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Perryville handles Oak Ridge 8-2 in wacky affair
OAK RIDGE, Mo. -- It's safe to say the Perryville baseball team's previous six victories had little resemblance to its seventh victory of the season Friday.
Playing in a full-moon phase and strong winds from an approaching weather front, the Pirates took a detour through the Twilight Zone in an 8-2 victory over Oak Ridge.
The detour included routine fly balls and pop flies eluding players for hits, multiple runs scoring on a suicide-squeeze bunt and a four-out inning that was rectified with a two-out inning.
Most of the strange occurrences took place during a three-run third that helped the Pirates take control of the game.
Perryville took a 3-1 lead into the top of the third, which started routine enough as the leadoff batter flew out to left. The Pirates then added a run with back-to-back doubles down the third-base line for a 4-1 lead. Andrew Martin's fly ball to center then was held up by the wind and fell in front of the center fielder as Mitchel Lukefahr advanced to third ahead of the throw. Martin took second on the play, bringing starting pitcher Paul Ferguson to the plate.
Perryville executed a suicide squeeze as Ferguson bunted the ball to freshman pitcher Lance Rohde, who threw out his counterpart at first. Lukefahr scored easily on the play, and Martin never stopped and scored from second as he beat the throw from a surprised Blue Jays first baseman.
"I knew I was coming home the whole time," Martin said. "It's a play we work on, and it's worked for us a few times."
The two runs extended Perryville's lead to 6-1.
"We've done it twice and it's worked twice," said Perryville coach Don O'Keefe of two runners scoring on the bunt.
The play merely was an hors d'oeuvre for the bizarre.
With two outs, the next two Perryville batters singled. The runners were stranded at first and second when Zack Wolk grounded out to third -- or were they?
With three outs in the book, leadoff batter Dustin Thompson came to the plate, which brought whispers from Perryville players and confusion among fans.
Thompson flew out to center for the fourth and final out of the inning.
"Everybody knew it in our dugout, but nobody was saying anything," Martin said with a laugh.
Most everybody was aware. Ferguson said he wasn't in on the big secret.
"No, but after I heard, it was kind of funny to get four outs," Ferguson said.
Oak Ridge coach Jason Niswonger was among the baffled.
"I thought it was three, and my third baseman thought it was three and my bookkeeper said it was three, but they just kept going," Niswonger said. "Half the time I don't remember, but we got it right, though."
O'Keefe and Niswonger met with the three-man umpiring crew after the inning and it was agreed the Pirates only would get two outs in the fourth inning.
"I've never seen four outs," O'Keefe said. "I just thought it was an awful thing, and to do that seemed right. That would of been bad of me to teach my kids a certain way, and then not do that."
Perryville led 6-1 at the time of the gaffe, but a majority of the game still was ahead when O'Keefe offered to give up an out.
"That was a class act," Niswonger said of O'Keefe's gesture.
Ferguson did his part to support his coach's sportsmanship with stellar pitching into the seventh inning. Ferguson allowed just four hits before walking two batters in the seventh inning with one out.
Ethan Reiss relieved Ferguson and coaxed the only batter he faced to ground into a game-ending double play.
The victory was the sixth in the last eight games for Perryville, which evened its record at 7-7 after a 1-5 start.
"We're playing a lot better now," Ferguson said. "We were struggling a little bit at the beginning of the season. We just weren't hitting as much, and when the pitching started coming around, everything started coming around."
Ferguson struck out four and walked four. One of the four hits he surrendered was a solo home run by Brett Thomas in the third inning.
Perryville banged out 14 hits, including 10 over the first three innings.
Martin and Jake Dobbelare both went 3 for 4, while Ross Moldenhauer, Reiss and Lukefahr all had two hits.
It was the third game in three days for Oak Ridge, which fell to 8-8.
"Any time a Class 1 school plays three games in three days, the third day is probably going to be rough pitching-wise and everything else," Niswonger said.
The Blue Jays started a freshman on the mound, as Rohde obtained the four outs in the third to go 3 1/3 innings. He gave way to senior Garret Light, who made his season debut as he returned from knee surgery. Light allowed four hits in 3 2/3 innings, and his knee looked healthy as he beat out a bunt in the sixth inning.
"For us to play .500 ball without him is great," Niswonger said. "He's been a staple of the program for three years. This is his fourth year. We'll be all right going forward."
WP -- Paul Ferguson, 3-1. LP -- Lance Rohde. HR -- Brett Thomas (OR). 2B -- Ethan Reiss 2 (P), Jake Dobbelare (P), Mitchel Lukefahr (P). Multiple hits -- Perryville: Ross Moldenhauer 2-4, Reiss 2-3, Lukefahr 2-4, Andrew Martin 3-4, Dobbelare 3-4. Records -- Perryville 7-7, Oak Ridge 8-8.