NORTHEAST GLENDALE — In retrospect, it was one of the biggest plays of the game, but there wasn’t much fanfare in the Flintridge Prep baseball team’s dugout following the final out recorded in the top of a disastrous sixth inning Saturday night.
The popup to first base induced by Rebels reliever Ian Lee-Chang with the bases loaded was significant in that it kept the game going — another Oakwood run would have given the Gorillas a 10-run lead and put the mercy rule into effect, ending the game on the spot.
It seemed a whole lot more significant when Lee-Chang stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded, no outs and the winning run on first base.
Lee-Chang ripped an extra-base hit into right field on Oakwood reliever Jon Ehrich’s first pitch, scoring Mark Chodas, Nick Ostiller and Conor Dubin to complete an improbable 10-run comeback for an 11-10 nonleague win at the Glendale Sports Complex.
“It felt good,” Lee-Chang said of the game-winning hit. “I was just saying [to myself], ‘Don’t get out.’
“At first we were kind of down, but as it went on, we knew that we could do something with [the nine-run deficit].”
Following a six-run bottom of the sixth that saw RBI hits from Chodas, Ostiller and Kyle McDonald and a scoreless top of the seventh pitched by Lee-Chang, the Rebels faced a 10-7 deficit going into the bottom of the seventh.
Third baseman Will Peterman smacked a leadoff double into deep center field and was knocked in by Chodas. Ostiller walked and Dubin singled to shallow left field to load the bases and set the stage for Lee-Chang’s walk off.
“As we started getting hits and scoring more runs, the momentum definitely took hold,” said Chodas, a senior shortstop, who went four for five with two RBIs and two runs scored. “In the top of the seventh inning we knew as long as we kept [within] three runs or so we had a shot to win.”
The top of the sixth was deflating for Prep, to say the least. Following three runs allowed in a shaky first inning, the Rebels had held Oakwood to just one more run over the next four frames.
They had just scored their first run in the bottom of the fifth, on a sacrifice fly by junior Aaron Fried, to pull back within three.
But, a throwing error that led to Oakwood’s first run of the sixth inning opened a floodgate, as the Gorillas went on to score five more runs in the inning, all coming with two outs.
The Rebels went to work chipping away at the lead with a walk, a hit batter and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Connor McCann to start the bottom of the sixth, before three consecutive base hits kicked the rally into high gear.
“It was a fantastic comeback,” Prep Coach Robert “Buzz” Cook said. “It was nice to see the fact that we didn’t give up.”
“We’re down 10-1 with two innings left to go and it would be easy to just mail in the rest of the game. They just went up there and started swinging the bats and making something happen.”
Prep collected 13 hits in the game, with Ostiller (three for four with an RBI and two runs scored) and Peterman (three for three with three runs scored) both notching multi-hit games.
Ben Slyngstad started the game for Prep and allowed one earned run on three hits over five innings.
The win was the second installment of a doubleheader with the Gorillas (1-1). Prep (1-1) dropped the earlier game, which was the season opener for both teams, 12-6.
GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at email@example.com.