Neither Creekview nor Pope pitched well — there were a combined 16 walks and eight wild pitches in the game — but it was the Greyhounds who delivered the clutch play needed to help secure an 8-7 victory.
For Pope (14-6, 13-2), the win increased its Region 7AAAAA lead to two games over Riverwood (13-5, 10-3) and 2½ over Creekview (11-8, 10-4).
“That was not the prettiest of games, but it’s one of those you have to grind through a little bit, and it’s nice to come out on top,” Pope coach Jeff Rowland said. “It’s nice to get separation. And that was what the whole day was about — trying to get some separation at the top.”
Pope has Nathaniel Lowe to thank for making that clutch play, as he bailed himself out after throwing a wild pitch with runners on first and third with one out in the seventh.
After Lowe’s pitch got away from catcher Wes Smith, he made it to the plate in time to catch the toss from Smith, and he tagged out Creekview courtesy runner Zach Murdoch, who was trying to score.
With the count 3-2 between Lowe and Creekview batter Kyle Wilkie after the wild pitch, the Greyhounds went from having runners on first and third with one out to being one strike away from winning it.
Lowe ended up losing Wilkie to a walk, but he induced a groundout from Max Holton, who was 2-for-2 going into the seventh, but he ended up getting the save on the next pitch when he got Holton to hit a grounder.
“I thought (Murdoch) had a pretty decent jump, and it was a close play at the plate,” Creekview coach Mike Nayman said. “They want the out call and we want the safe call, and it is what it is.”
Both teams traded leads throughout the game, but it Creekview was in front 7-6 going into the bottom of the sixth. The Grizzlies took advantage of Pope miscues in the top half of the sixth when Wilkie and Holton came home on a throwing error, and Steven Whitaker sprinted home on a wild pitch.
In the bottom half of the sixth, Pope tied it when pinch-hitter Logan Taylor drew a bases-loaded walk to score Mason Shiflett, and Patrick Wiseman accounted for the game-winning run when he scored on a wild pitch.
“I don’t know who had more big plays, but they had enough plays to get one more run, and that wound up being the difference,” Creekview coach Mike Nayman said. “What right play did you come up with to give you the winning combination?”
Pope jumped ahead first when Lowe hit a first-inning double and scored on a wild pitch. Midway through the fourth inning, the Grizzlies took a 2-1 lead when Ryan Zentko scored on another wild pitch.
The Greyhounds took the lead back in the bottom of the fourth when Jared Parker hit a two-run triple that went over Whitaker’s head in center field. Creekview leapfrogged Pope in the top of the fifth when Nick Williams and Zentko accounted for RBIs.
Pope then went ahead 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth after Stephen Skruck hit a three-run home run.
“When Stephen struck that home run, that was huge,” Rowland said. “We were down, and that put us back in the game and gave us some momentum. Our guys have been hitting all year.”