Luke Fraley didn't feel safe with a 4-2 lead.
That worrisome feeling didn't last long, as Perkins scored 15 runs in the top of the seventh inning to storm past Edison 19-2 in a Sandusky Bay Conference game Thursday night.
“We were kind of battling ourselves,” Fraley said of his team's mentality heading into the final inning. “We were thinking we need runs, we need that insurance. We haven't really done our best at hitting the ball how we can. We got together and said 'we need to get some hits together here.' And then it turns out we did what we needed to to close out the game.”
Sloppy infield errors doomed the Chargers (11-3, 3-2), who dropped their second conference game this week. They finished with eight errors in the game. The Pirates (12-3, 5-0), however, take a two-game lead in the conference with the win. Fraley picked up the win from the mound.
“We all feel very confident because we are two games ahead of everybody,” the senior said. “That was the big thing tonight that Coach (Ray) Neill challenged us to do. We all feel confident now. We are playing good baseball, but we have to keep our heads straight.”
It was the Chargers who got on board first with two runs in the second inning.
Tristen Ball and Clay Cooper both got on base and Chris Ketchum was hit by Perkins' starter Braun Miller to load the bases. Tyler Damante then smacked one to center field that scored two runs.
The Pirates were blanked through three innings, but got a base hit from Fraley to start the fourth. Kyle Lewis then belted out a triple to right field that scored Fraley. Connor Mapus grounded out, but managed to score Lewis in the process to knot things up.
“Kyle Lewis got a big hit for us,” Neill said. “We went into it thinking it's a 2-1 or 3-2 kind of game. I am real proud of our guys. We put some good at bats together.”
Fraley took the mound for Miller in the bottom of the fourth after Miller's thumb was hit by the ball while trying to bunt.
Fraley walked the first two and then gave up two hits, but the Pirates infield managed to keep the Chargers from scoring. Edison left two on base.
“I didn't have my best stuff and I didn't feel the best, but I knew what I had to do,” Fraley said. “Braun was having trouble with his thumb and I knew I had to come in and throw strikes. The mentality to start was to throw strikes, and as I am struggling to do that, figure out what's wrong. I looked down at one pitch and thank God I saw my cleat marks in the mound, because I saw that I was dragging my foot. I got my foot out farther and that helped.”
Fraley gave up just one hit in the next two innings, while striking out three.
“Luke came in and did as he has done all year, pitched really well for us,” Neill said.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Devin Dubbert was walked and managed to steal second and third base. Thane Walton brought Dubbert home with a big hit. Fraley almost smacked out a home run on the ensuing at-bat, but the ball took a bounce before hurdling over the fence and was ruled a double.
The Chargers went three-and-out and Mapus managed to score in the sixth inning to make it 4-2 after an errant throw by the Chargers.
Dubbert started the seventh inning with an outfield fly, but Walton, Fraley and Lewis all got on base. Mapus then knocked one to left center field, scoring Walton and Fraley. Dawson Nason was up next and while at bat, Mapus stole second and Lewis managed to score on the errant play, making it 7-2.
It only got worse for Edison, which gave up nine more hits, two walks and two hit batters, allowing a 15-run inning.
“It was one inning,” Edison coach Sean Hoover said. “We fell apart in the last inning. Our guys had battled hard and that was something we were trying to teach them, to be more mentally tough. They got their backs against the wall and then continued to tumble down the hill and didn't really put things together. We played six innings of baseball — and one bad half inning isn't going to throw any of that away.”
Edison started Adam Wolf on the mound and he pitched five innings, striking out five, giving up five hits and walking three. Wroblewski then took over.
“Adam was up in his pitch count and they had started to hit him some,” Hoover said. “He was around 95-96 pitches. It was just time. He's 16 and we're not going to go out and overextend anyone in a baseball game. We've got plenty of guys out here that can come out and get it done. Adam Wroblewski came in, and it's the third time he's thrown this week. He went in and did a nice job. If we made a couple of plays behind him, sacrifice ourselves more, maybe they don't get that run to go up 4-2.”
Fraley finished with three hits while Lewis, Damante and Tanner Trent each added two.
“The game of baseball is a funny thing. If you play everyday the game will give you something that maybe you haven't seen before,” Neill said of scoring 15 in the final inning. “We played very good defense tonight. It was a great effort against a top 10 Division III-ranked team. We've beaten some good teams this year and tonight is another one of them.
“We'll have fun with this on the way home, but we have one more conference game to get this week and then we can celebrate,” he added. “Our goal is always to win the week.”
Tristen Ball had two hits and Owen Moyer added two as well for the Chargers.
The Chargers host Huron today, while Perkins travels to Oak Harbor.
“It has been a long week but (today) is still a big game for us,” Fraley said of the Rockets. “Then it gets even harder when we have to face St Mary's Monday. That is another big game.”