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Wildcat walkoff win

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Lucas Jackson prepares to swing. PHOTOS BY Clay LilleyLucas Jackson prepares to swing. PHOTOS BY Clay Lilley

By Clay Lilley

The Onalaska Wildcats opened up district baseball play with a come-from-behind win against the Shepherd Pirates Tuesday night.

Thad Lilley got the start for the Wildcats and went six innings, allowing only one unearned run on four hits and four walks, while striking out 11 batters on 107 pitches.

“One thing I know about Thad, he is a competitor," Coach Cody Pinkert said. "He’s always gonna give us a chance to win big games. All these kids understand what our team’s identity is and they do a good job of playing their roles. This is a special group of boys.”

The Pirates took a 1-0 in the fifth inning on an RBI-single by first baseman David Somers. In the sixth inning, with runners on first and third, Lucas Jackson laid down a bunt that scored Wyatt Reyes from third to tie the game 1-1.

Pinkert brought in Patrick Roth to pitch the seventh inning. Things immediately got tense for the Wildcats to start the inning. With a runner on first, Shepherd hit a single to left field, but the runner from first was thrown out at third while trying to get into scoring position. On the next batter, Roth hung a curve ball to Pirate starting pitcher, Marshal Reeves, who hit a laser off the left-field fence that was a few feet from being a home run. Again, the Wildcats got the ball in quickly to gun down another runner at third base. Roth got the last out on a pop up to the second baseman to end the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh with two outs and an 0-2 count, Shepherd needed just one more strike to send the game to extra innings. However, Brody Hoover, wouldn’t give in, showing discipline as he fouled off pitches to work himself into a walk, putting the winning run on first.

Pinkert inserted a pinch runner, Ryder Humbird-Smith. With two outs, the game tied, and winning run on first, pinch hitter Conner Ruiz stepped up to the plate. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Humbird-Smith stole second base, putting him in scoring position. With a 3-1 count on Ruiz, he hit a liner to center field.  Pinkert waved Humbird-Smith around third. Hve stumbled while crossing the base, hit the ground and rolled a few times. Shepherd’s centerfielder scooped up Ruiz’s line drive on the second hop and overthrew his cutoff man. The ball traveled to the backstop, while Humbird-Smith got to his feet and crossed home plate, giving the Wildcats a dramatic 2-1 win over the Pirates.

The Wildcats are off to Weimar to play in the their invitational over the weekend. District play continues Tuesday in Trinity against the Tigers.

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