Story and Photos by Rusty Ellis
The York Institute Dragons saw their season come to an end in heartbreaking fashion in Friday’s 10-9 substate loss to Forrest.
The scoring was scarce early, but it was Nic Smith who got the Dragons on the board first with his opposite-field home run.
This was all Smith needed in his three innings on the mound, as he held the Rockets off the board and struck out four batters in three innings.
Caden Stover then took the mound in the fourth inning, and was sharp right away as he struck out the side to preserve the 1-0 lead. The Rockets finally broke through in the fifth however, as a safety squeeze play knotted the score at 1-all.
York answered right back on the strength of a Blaine York RBI single and a two-run double by Seth Helbig to take a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth. After Stover retired the side, York then put together a five-run top of the ninth, highlight by a Tanner Tallent two-run single, a York two-run double and a Helbig RBI single to push the lead to 9-1.
Stover took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, but failed to record an out and was removed after Forrest cut the lead down to 9-4.
Ethan Haley entered, and his first pitch was promptly sent over the left-field fence for a two-run homer that cut the led down to 9-6, still with no one out. The Dragons led 9-8 and had the Rockets down to their final strike, but Riley Durbin fouled off a few pitches before tying the game on a single to right field.
The Dragons escaped the inning and forced an extra eighth inning, but the Rockets took home the win in the bottom of the eighth with a Preston Gentry single up the middle to give Forrest a 10-9 victory and a berth in next week’s Spring Fling.
The Dragons wrap up this season with a 15-16 record, as Friday’s loss was the program’s first Substate appearance.