Bald Eagle Area’s Trey Butterworth was searching for the right words to describe his team’s comeback victory.
He said he couldn’t find them, at first.
But then, he started talking about the disbelief in the visitor’s dugout.
The Eagles scored five runs in the seventh inning to erase a four-run deficit en route to an 8-7 win over Philipsburg-Osceola on Tuesday. They recorded three consecutive hits to cut the deficit to two runs. They drew back-to-back, bases-loaded, two-out walks to score the tying and game-winning runs.
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They stunned the Mounties.
And they stunned themselves.
“We still can’t believe it — that we came back like that,” Butterworth said. “But it just felt like the world was lifted off our chest.”
The Eagles (7-4) put that pressure on themselves going into the game, knowing all about the Mounties’ 9-2 record and remembering their 5-0 loss to P-O earlier this season. They looked at Tuesday’s matchup as a big game and they put together a memorable rally to come out on top this time.
BEA’s Brandon Barnyak allowed one run and two hits in three innings of relief to earn the win, extending the team’s winning streak to four games.
“This is going to propel us a little more, but we have to keep it in perspective,” BEA coach Jim Gardner said.
Philipsburg-Osceola (9-3) established itself as one of the top teams in the Mountain League behind its dominant pitching staff.
Gage Coudriet had allowed three runs (one earned) in 19 innings in his first three starts, including a complete-game shutout in the Mounties’ win over BEA in the first matchup between the teams. The right-hander took the mound Tuesday and went into the seventh inning looking to finish off his fourth complete game with a four-run cushion, largely built when P-O scored a combined five runs and seven hits in the third and fourth innings.
Coudriet got a groundout to start the seventh before Hunter Eminhizer reached base on an error to start the rally. Barnyak then lined a single to center field, and Ryan Guenot followed with another single to center.
An error allowed a run to score, cutting Philipsburg-Osceola’s lead to 7-4. Mounties coach Doug Sankey went to left-hander Isaac Knepp, who had limited opponents to eight runs (five earned) in 23 innings.
But with runners on second and third and one out, Knepp gave up a two-run double to Butterworth.
“I just wanted to keep the bat rolling,” Butterworth said.
After getting a strikeout, Knepp intentionally walked Noah Chambers, who was 3 for 3 with a solo home run. BEA’s Caleb Bell sent a chopper past the mound for an infield single to load the bases.
A.J. Onder was down to the Eagles’ final strike after fouling off a 2-1 pitch. He nearly chased a pitch in the dirt, but held off to work a full count.
Knepp missed low to bring in the tying run.
Ty Walker, who led off the inning with the groundout, stepped to the plate and drew another walk.
Chambers trotted home to give the Eagles an 8-7 lead.
“It’s not easy, especially when he’s a starting pitcher,” Sankey said of Knepp. “It’s tough to play first base and then come in.”
Knepp allowed two runs in 1/3 of an inning to take the loss. Coudriet allowed six runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. Cam Domblisky struck out the only batter he faced to end the inning.
Sankey felt his team left the door open to a comeback when the lineup went quiet in the fifth. Barnyak struck out the side in the fifth and struck out the first five batters he faced. The Mounties scored one run in the sixth to push their lead to 7-3, but they left the bases loaded.
“We have a lot of young kids that just don’t understand that just because you’re up 6-2 doesn’t mean anything against Bald Eagle, a really good team,” Sankey said.
Barnyak retired the Mounties in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Chambers fielded a ground ball and stepped on first base for the final out, setting off a celebration as the Eagles players started jumping around and hugging on the field after their improbable comeback.
Said Butterworth: “This by far is the biggest win of our season so far.”