North rallied back from an early deficit to earn a walk-off run over visiting North Olmsted on Saturday, 7-6.
The Eagle scored three runs in the top of the first inning and held a 6-5 advantage entering North’s final at-bat.
“They scored three runs in the first inning and I think they scored two of them without an out and had a guy on second base and third,” said North coach Joe Iveljic. “Devin Nix did a nice job of getting out of that jam in the first and then we kind of scratched our way back. It was good to see our resilience.”
A leadoff walk and three straight singles gave North Olmsted an early 3-0 lead. Nix then recorded three straight outs to limit the damage.
Nix went on to allow just one run over the next three innings to give the Rangers the opportunity to work their way back into the game.
Andrew Gunton hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the first and Chase Federer singled in the inning. Gunton scored on an error to cut North Olmsted’s lead to 3-1.
The Eagles scored a run on two hits in the third but the Rangers responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to pull to within 4-3.
Andy Haller singled to start the rally and Blane Schmidt and Trent Bucy hit back-to-back RBI doubles.
Bucy hit a two-out single in the fifth and scored on Owen Hopper’s RBI double to tie the game at 4-4. The Rangers took a 5-4 lead in the sixth when Nick Licursi drew a two-out walk, stole second, and scored on an error.
Gunton pitched a scoreless fifth inning and Ethan Zele shut out the Eagles in the sixth.
North Olmsted scored two runs off of Jacob Henderson in the top of the seventh, but that only set the stage for Kevin Gough’s walk-off single.
“Devin ended up pitching four really solid innings,” Iveljic said. “Andrew and Ethan both threw an inning and Jacob Patterson came in and had some control issues and walked the first two guys. He gave up the two runs to take the lead but he was able to get his stuff under control and got us out of the inning.”
Iveljic was confident the Rangers had the ability to pull out the win.
“It was kind of funny, we got in the dugout and I had a really good feeling that we were going to make it happen and we did,” he said.
Bucy hit a one-out double and Hopper doubled him home.
The Eagles opted to intentionally walk Gunton to get to Gough, who made them pay with his first-pitch single to end the game.
“It was a very amazing moment and it’s great for our team’s momentum going into (Sunday’s) game (against rival South),” Gough said. “The pitch was an inside curveball, which our team two days before our game set up our hitting machine on curveballs only and worked on hitting them, so it was a mechanic we have been working on. The team ran out onto the field and we were all celebrating around the first base area.”
Gough struck out in his only other at-bat in the sixth inning but he didn’t let that affect his opportunity in the seventh.
“I was thinking about staying calm, getting a solid swing, and just putting it into play,” he said.
Bucy finished the day 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and an RBI. Schmidt and Hopper both finished with two hits.
Despite his early struggles, Henderson picked up the win. He allowed the two runs on one hit and struck out one.
The Rangers will play South at Classic Park on Sunday.
“After the game, we talked about how baseball is kind of a game of momentum and limiting the big innings,” Iveljic said. “We talked about Devin limiting that first inning to those couple of runs and carrying that momentum over into the next game. The kids are very excited and very pumped up.”