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LYONS — The most exciting baseball games always come down to the final inning, and Class 2A No. 9 Dawson at Lyons proved to be quite the thriller on Thursday afternoon.
Even the final out had the spectators jumping out of their seats.
Down 6-5 in the top of the seventh inning, Dawson had nothing to lose. Lyons secured the second out at first base after a dropped third strike, then threw it to third. Third baseman Michael Ping fumbled the ball, giving Bryce Markus the opportunity to dash for home.
Able to recover from the slight mishap, the Lions managed to secure that final out as catcher Zach Boggess blocked Markus’ path and tagged him. Game over.
“I’m still shaking,” Lyons coach Kale Olson said. “If I’m being honest, I was anxious the whole game. We haven’t had a game this season where it’s been close like that, back and forth. Either it’s we’re blowing a team out or they’re kind of blowing us out, so it’s been the first game where we’ve been so evenly matched.”
Just the inning before, Ping played hero when he nailed a hard line drive past third base to bring Adam Brookes home and score the go-ahead run. That lone RBI of the sixth frame broke a three-inning stalemate, as each team stepped up to the plate — literally and figuratively — each time the other gained some sort of advantage.
“After the strike, my eyes were just centered on the ball,” Ping said. “I saw it come and I was like, ‘If I don’t hit this, we don’t win.’”
That pivotal moment lifted the Lions to victory and added to the momentum that the now 7-3 squad had spent the last few games building. The Mustangs, on the other hand, fell to 4-3 through an incredibly tough schedule that has already seen them face the No. 1 and No. 4 teams in 2A with Limon and Highland.
Dawson junior Ashtin Gilio kicked things off for the Mustangs and upped the ante from his very first at-bat when he launched a two-run bomb over the centerfield wall in the top of the first inning. He manipulated the air around him to get the job done, and the Lions learned their lesson after that. They walked him in each of his next three plate appearances, two of which were intentional.
“I know I got a man on third base, I got one out, I think, at that point,” Gilio explained. “I’m just trying to get the ball in the air in the outfield. I happened to have some wind behind me and get that ball out of the field.”
The Lions immediately responded in the bottom of the inning thanks to an error and subsequent RBI base hit, and that score held through the middle of the third frame. Lyons batted in three runs in the bottom of the third, including a Little League home run from Boggess after his high-hit fly ball fell just short of the wall in center.
The Mustangs fell behind 5-2 heading into the fourth, but that wasn’t a problem.
Cayden Fisher and Declan Noonan drove in three runs on a pair of base hits to even things out at 5-5 again, only to see the defenses for both squads consistently shut down their opponent. That is, at least, until that final steal attempt of the game.
Lyons will now look to ride this current wave of victory into its next contest against Dayspring Christian on Saturday as Dawson will try to shake off the loss against the same DCS team on Tuesday. The Mustangs and Lions should both hold their heads high after such a spine-tingling performance.
“It’s just the best feeling ever,” Dawson coach Troy Siegler said. “It takes me back to my playing days, a close game like this at the end. This is what you live for. The sun’s out, beautiful Colorado weather. We get to play close games and we’re getting better every day. You can’t ask for much more.”