HAMILTON -- Rudyard Kipling stated in his poem “If,” that “if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs then you’ll be a man, my son.”
Exercising editorial license, the same can be applied to the Hardaway baseball team in its contest against Harris County on Friday: If it could keep its head in a back-and-forth, questionably-officiated affair, then it could pull out a much-needed region victory.
The Hawks did just that, scoring six runs in a wild seventh inning to claim an 11-8 victory in a game that more closely resembled a tennis match than a baseball game.
There were a combined eight errors, four for each team, and pitchers walked 16 batters between the two. There were wild pitches, passed balls, an inconsistent strike zone and more than a handful of arguments by both head coaches.
Somehow, the Hawks managed to put that aside and scrape and claw for the win.
“I tell our guys to control the things we can control,” Hardaway coach Chris Gilstrap said after the game. “Let me yell and argue when I need to, and they just focus on winning the ballgame.”
It looked briefly like the game would go the opposite direction. Harris County took a 6-5 lead with a three-run fifth inning, responding to the three runs Hardaway had put up in the top half of the frame. It added two more runs in the sixth to extend its lead to 8-5 with Hardaway’s final at-bat to come.
In the seventh, Hardaway’s first four batters — Tre’Von Dorsey, Marcell Byrd, Tony Locey and Eric Manibusan — all walked, bringing home the first run of the inning. The final ball called on Manibusan’s at-bat came with a full count and was only slightly off the plate, if at all, eliciting rounds of loud complaints from the Tigers faithful.
Marcus Small came next, grounding into a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning, but driving in the second run. Tyrell Pritchett walked to load the bases again, and Sam Anthony roped a 2-RBI single to give Hardaway a 9-8 lead. Jalin Thomas added a run on a sacrifice fly, and Blake Rupp reached on an error that scored Anthony for the team’s sixth and final run of the inning.
Gilstrap said he didn’t tell his team anything heading into the final frame, knowing that his players have been through that kind of situation before.
“Nothing,” he said. “I don’t have to tell them. They’ve been here before. They know that when we score, we usually score in bunches. Hitting is contagious for us.”
Tre’Von Dorsey went the distance to get the win in the game, despite allowing eight runs, four earned, on nine hits, walking four and throwing 135 pitches. He did strike out eight, providing a gutsy performance without his best stuff.
“He really came through for us late,” Gilstrap said. “Not everything was going our way and the defense made some mistakes, but he really pushed through it.”
The win avenges a loss against Harris County on Thursday in which the Hawks mustered just a single hit. After slipping behind the Tigers in the region, Hardaway moved back ahead by a single game in the win column. It is 5-3, while Harris County is 4-3.
“We know in this region that nothing is going to come easy,” Gilstrap said. “I told them before the game we were like a caged animal with our backs against the wall. We had to fight our way out. Hopefully, that’s what this team needs to get back on track.”
Both teams will play again on Tuesday. Hardaway hosts Columbus, while Harris County hosts LaGrange.
Friday at Harris County
Hardaway 100 130 6—11 10 4
Harris County 100 232 0—8 9 4
WP—Tre’Von Dorsey. LP—Dakota Whaley. Leading hitters—Hardaway, Sam Anthony 2-4, 2 RBIs, 2 Rs, Jalin Thomas 1-2, 2B, RBI, 2 Rs, Blake Rupp 1-5, 3 RBIs, Tre’Von Dorsey 2-4, 2 Rs, Tony Locey 1-3, 2B, Marcell Byrd 1-2, 2B, R, Tyrell Pritchett 2-2, 3B, 2 Rs; Harris County, Kurt Ornowski 2-3, 3 Rs, Hunter Hartshorne 2-3, RBI, Casey Cobb 1-3, 2B, RBI, Tyler Maley 1-4, RBI, R, Jacob Rovig 2-4, 3B, RBI, R. Records—Hardaway, 11-4, 5-3; Harris County, 9-5, 4-3. Next—Hardaway, Tuesday vs. Columbus at home; Harris County, Tuesday vs. LaGrange at home.