By Ray Conner
When you get down 15-0 after three innings, most times, for a team, it’s a short game.
This was not the case when the varsity Broncs baseball squad made the trip to Bishop this past Friday. This team, despite the huge deficit, came all the way back to win 16-15 and give themselves a big boost for the rest of the High Desert League season.
The Broncos jumped from the gate and scored six in the bottom of the first. They added two in the second and seven more in the third.
With the score 15-0 after three, it was now the Broncs’ turn to bat. They scored once, but with stellar relief, Bishop went quietly in the fourth inning.
In the fifth, Kern Valley sent 10 batters to the plate and came away with five runs to cut the deficit to 15-6. They continued to eat into the lead as they scored three in the sixth off a milestone home run from Zach Bushling. When the ball found the home run mark, Bushling had broken the school record for RBIs with 135. The three-run bomb gave him a total of 137 for his varsity career.
With the score sitting at 15-9 after Bishop failed to score in the bottom of the sixth, the Broncs got even in the seventh inning. They would score four runs with two outs to give them a chance to win.
In the seventh, 11 Broncs came to bat in the inning. Cody Sandoval got the party started as he singled. He went to second on a wild pitch. Jacob McCullough and Tanner Tito were issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. One out later, Donald Beaton singled in a pair of runs. to cut the gap to 15-11. Another out and Kern Valley was down to their last one. Bushling was given the intentional pass to once again load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate.
Damon Sage, on the first pitch he saw, singled in two more to make it 15-13 and the tying run on base. Joe Brassell reached on an error to load the bases and keep the inning alive. Sandoval stepped in for the second time in the seventh and singled in two runs to tie the game at 15-15.
The next batter grounded out to end the inning, but the game stood even as Bishop came to bat.
A one-out double put the winning run on second for Bishop that brought a change of pitching. Bushling came in to record the strike em out, throw em out double play.
With regulation in the books it was time for extra innings.
The Broncs wasted little time in going ahead in the game. With one out, Nick Thomas singled. Beaton was hit by the pitch, and Stephen D’Amico reached on an error to load the bases. Up came Bushling, and he worked out a walk to push the go-ahead run home and give the Broncs their first lead of the game. The next two batters made out to end the inning with the score sitting at 16-15.
Bushling got the first two outs quickly before surrendering a base hit. With the tying run at first, he induced the game-ending ground ball to complete the comeback and give the Broncs a much needed league win.
Broncs hitting: Bushling 2 (HR), Sandoval 2, Sage 1, Brassell 1, McCullough 1, Tito 1, Thomas 1, Beaton 1.
RBIs: Bushling 4 (career total stands at 138), Sage 3, Sandoval 3, McCullough 2, Beaton 2, Brassell 1, D’ Amico 1.
Kern Valley pitching:
McCullough-3 IP, 15 H, 15 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
Sage-3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K.
Bushling (W) [2-0]-1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K.
Head coach Mike Genthner said, “ Wow! I’ve never been involved in a game quite like this. To be down 15-0 and come back to win at Bishop was incredible. Obviously, it was a complete team effort. I can’t say enough about Sage’s relief effort, shutting Bishop out for three and one-third innings, while we are scoring 15 runs to tie the game. Then Bushling comes in with the winning run on second in the seventh and does the same thing.”
Earlier in the week Kern Valley took care of Cal City 10-5. A four-run fifth gave the Broncs more than enough runs as they beat the Ravens.
Kern Valley took advantage of the Ravens’ lack of defense and pitchers struggling to collect the victory. Cal City committed six errors and issued 10 free passes.
The Broncs started their scoring in the first with a pair of runs. They added two more in the second. The Ravens scored three runs over two innings to keep them in the game. Kern Valley exploded for the four runs to make it 8-3 and cruised to the win adding two more runs.
Cal City scored once in the sixth and once in the seventh to make it final.
Broncs hitting: Bushling 2 (2B), Sage 2, Sandoval 2, Brassell 1.
RBIs: Sage 2, Brassell 1, Bushling 1, Sandoval 1, Tito 1, D’ Amico 1.
Kern Valley pitching:
Brassell (W) [4-3]-4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 6 K.
Bushling-2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K.
McCullough-1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.
Genthner said, “This was a much needed win to stay in contention for a playoff spot. Bushling, Sage and Sandoval combined for six-of the-seven hits and we took advantage of 10 walks and six Cal City errors. Brassell scattered three hits in picking up his fourth win and Bushling gave us solid relief pitching.”
Kern Valley 7-9, 3-3 HDL, were at home Tuesday against Desert. On Friday they travel to Frazier Mountain.