Like a pair of prime prize fighters matching blow to blow, Salina and the Rogers County Rangers slugged it out for 10 rounds ... uh, make that innings ... Tuesday night at Claremore's Legion Field.
The matchup didn't end until two outs in the bottom of the 10th as Matt Sparks singled home John Chaisson for a 7-6 Ranger American Legion baseball victory.
The Rangers needed two runs in the 10th to cap the decision and lift their season record to 10-5. Pinch hitter Justin Edwards started things rolling as he led off with a sharp single to center.
The next two batters struck out and the home team, down 6-5, was on the ropes.
This just made it more exciting.
Suffering from a sore back, Chaisson dumped a soft fly in front of the Salina left fielder to let Edwards trot home with the tying run. Also ailing, with a sore right thumb, Edwards had reached third after two stolen bases.
Sparks' winning hit was down the right field line and Chaisson scored from second.
Kyle Stafford, the Rangers' fourth pitcher in the game, was credited with the victory, his first of the season. He entered with one out in the top of the 10th.
A double by Jordan Nunley had just allowed Salina to take the ead and he was standing at second as Stafford took the mound. The first man Stafford faced was Brad Daugherty.
Up to that point, Daugherty had had a pretty good night. He had a home run, triple, single, walk, and had reached base on an error. A third baseman, he also had accounted for the first six Ranger outs. He threw out five at first base and tagged out the other runner.
Coach Todd Bingham elected to put Daugherty on base a sixth time. Stafford issued an intentional walk, then struck out the next batter. The inning ended on a high fly ball to right fielder Jeff Simpson.
Salina was a late replacement for the Rangers. A Kansas team originally scheduled to be in Claremore Tuesday night has reportedly ended its season early due to a lack of players.
Formed from the surrounding areas, the Salina club came ready to play Tuesday night.
During various stages in the game, the visitors led by scores of 1-0, 2-0, 5-3 and 6-5.
The Rangers kept clawing back. A two-run home run by Blake Kelley in the third tied the score at 2-2. In the fifth, the home team took its first lead, 3-2, on a Sparks double to score Chaisson. This was the same combo that would return in the 10th.
After going down by two in the seventh, the Rangers came back for a third tie with single runs in the seven and eighth.
Following a series of rainouts, the Rangers returned to action Monday night by capturing a 7-5 win at Joplin.
Making his first appearance with the Rangers was Owasso High School All-State pitcher Chris Armstrong. He picked up the win while Nathan Gilsleider came in for the save.
RANGERS 7, SALINA 6
Salina 011 001 200 1 — 6 11 1
Rangers 002 010 110 2 — 7 15 1
Maddoux, Philippi (7), Cochran (8) and Wisdom. York, Conger (5), Herron (7), Stafford (10) and Z.Williams. W — Stafford (1-0). L — Cochran. HR — Salina, Daugherty; Rangers, Kelley.