Davenport’s arm, bat thwart remarkable Redmen comeback

Bellevue scores seven in top of seventh to tie the game, but Fliers advance

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Bellevue's Ben Smith celebrates after scoring a run during the district final game against Clyde at Heidelberg Thursday afternoon.

Clyde left fielder Tanner Davenport saved the game — and the postseason — for his team Thursday in the Division II district finals at Heidelberg.

First, he did it with his arm. Then with his bat. When he was done, the Fliers advanced to Saturday’s final with a 12-11 win over Bellevue.

It started in the top of the seventh inning. The Redmen had stunned the Fliers — and practically everyone in attendance — by rallying for seven runs off two pitchers to tie the game at 11.

Bryce Ray’s single — his second of the inning — scored Joe Wetten and knotted the game, and put runners on first and second with one out.

That brought up Justin Drennen, who laced a single to left. Bellevue coach Andy Dennings, who was manning third, noticed that the ball had bounced up on the arm of Davenport.

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Bellevue's Ben Smith celebrates after scoring a run during the district final game against Clyde at Heidelberg Thursday afternoon.

Seeing that, Dennings attempted to score the runner from second.

“If it doesn’t roll up the kid’s arm, I don’t send him,” Dennings said.

But Davenport was able to keep the ball in front of him.

“Once I bobbled it, I looked up and saw him going home,” Davenport said. “It was just instinct to throw it home.”

The ball went straight to catcher Nate Gittinger, who tagged pinch runner Garrett Vickery.

Out.

“We practice that before every game, so we’re getting pretty good at it,” Davenport said.

Bellevue still had two on, but Cody Snyder hit a deep fly to left that Davenport tracked down to end the inning.

“Hindsight, you go back, Cody hits a ball deep enough, (we) tag,” Dennings said. “But I’m gonna take my shot, and the kid made a good play.”

In the bottom of the seventh, Jared Colvin led off by grounding to short, but reached second on a throwing error.

That brought up Davenport, who had gone hitless in three at-bats. He was facing Mitchell Wells, who was the Redmen’s fourth pitcher.

“I contemplated bunting him,” Parks said. “For some reason, I didn’t.”

Davenport fell behind in the count 0-and-2, but a bunt wasn’t needed after a pitch got by the catcher and moved Colvin to third

“When I got down 0-2, I was just thinking, ‘put it in play, foul it off,'” Davenport said. “Hopefully get something in the air, hope to get a sacrifice fly and win the game there.”

He didn’t get the sac fly, but he did provide the game-winner.

Davenport lined a single to center, scoring Colvin.

“I finally squared one up, got it over the infield,” Davenport said.

The win went to Kelley, who went one inning of relief and allowed three hits. Wells, who faced only two hitters and allowed one hit, took the loss.

The Fliers (16-8) advance to play Lexington, which upended Kenton 4-3 in 11 innings in Thursday’s nightcap.

For six innings, it looked as if Clyde would cruise behind a solid start by Mikey Haynes.

After Auten’s RBI double in the second gave Bellevue a 1-0 lead, Clyde scored four in the third, and chased starting pitcher Snyder from the game. Webb had an RBI double, Frank Sewell tripled in a run, and Kelley drove in one more with a single.

Snyder left after 2 2/3 innings, having allowed all four runs. But because the inning started with an error, only one of those runs was earned. He allowed six hits, struck out two and didn’t walk a batter.

“He pitched fine,” Dennings said. “They hit some balls with eyes, hit a couple balls hard, and it’s one of those days where the bounces we needed to go our way didn’t.”

Bellevue (20-8) trimmed Clyde’s advantage to 4-2 after a run-scoring double by Ben Smith, but again, the Fliers responded, scoring three in the fourth on RBI singles from Webb and Sewell.

After Bellevue scored two runs in the sixth to make it 7-4, Clyde answered in the bottom of the inning with four runs. Matt Baker hit a two-run double, and the next batter, Sewell, clocked a ball over the center fielder’s head for an inside-the-park homer.

Sewell finished 3 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs. He was a double short of a cycle.

“Frank struggled really bad the first two, three weeks of the season, and he stayed with it, has been positive,” Parks said. “He came up big. I can’t express enough how big he was swinging the bat.”

Haynes was in line for the win. He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits. He struck out seven and walked two.

At one point in the sixth, leading 11-4, Clyde had two on with two out. A home run would have given the Fliers a run-rule win.

But Bellevue had other ideas.

Bellevue’s top of the seventh was remarkable. It sent 12 men to the plate. The first six singled, and the seventh was hit by a pitch. By the time the inning was over, the Redmen had hit nine singles and scored seven runs.

“We didn’t quit all day,” Dennings said. “The problem is, we never had an answer.”

For Bellevue, Auten finished with three hits and three RBIs. Wells also drove in three runs, and Smith had three hits and scored twice.

For Clyde, Webb and Parker Reese each had three hits and three runs.