SULPHUR — By the time the Division V title game reached the sixth inning, both Runnels and Northside Christian knew what needed to happen.
The game that helped open Monday’s action at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Baseball tournament had been tied at 1-1 since the second inning.
Somebody needed to get a timely hit. Matthew Richard’s bloop hit to short left field gave the Warriors exactly what they needed — a go-ahead scored run in the bottom of the sixth.
Reliever Keegan Foreman’s 11th strikeout in the top of the seventh put the finishing touch on Northside’s 2-1 victory over Runnels.
“We had a couple of chances,” Runnels coach Ben Young said. “Early on, we missed some opportunities to score runs. Their guy (Foreman) threw well. We could not do much against him. They deserved to win based on the way they played.”
Foreman, a left-hander, came on in relief with one out in the top of the second inning. He was a difference-maker in more ways than one for the second-seeded Warriors (19-9). In addition to handcuffing the fifth-seeded Raiders (15-15), Foreman also finished 2-for-4 at the plate and was selected as the Outstanding Player in the title game.
“We had a little bit of nerves out there,” Foreman said. “This is the highest (level) game you’ve got. But our one-hole hitter blooped a little hit over the third baseman and that was all we needed.”
The Raiders led 1-0 after the top of the first inning. NC starter Dustin Hernandez hit Raiders leadoff hitter Collin Bueche with the first pitch of the game. Bueche moved to second on a wild pitch and Grayson Gulley reached on an infield single that put runners on first and third.
Runnels pitcher Ricky Harrison helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly that scored Bueche. The Raiders had runners on second and third before Foreman came on in relief.
Foreman retired the next two batters to end what would be the last serious scoring threat for Runnels.
Jake Best’s single in the fourth inning was the only other hit for the Raiders. There were some near misses. A line drive off the bat of Bueche was snared by Northside shortstop Lance Martin in the fifth. A Raiders baserunner also was thrown out trying to steal in the fifth.
“(Foreman) located his pitches well and came inside on us,” Bueche said. “He had a weird arm angle that threw us off the first time we faced him. We fought hard. The score said we had two hits and they had seven. We hit balls at people, more of theirs fell.”
Ultimately, Foreman retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.
Young noted how far the Raiders have come, just two years removed from a one-win season.
“This group has come a long way,” Young said. “Six of them were with us two years ago. Runnels has always been successful in baseball. They helped bring that back.”