PENDLETON — It’s never over until the last out, even if it appears the last out is all but a formality.
In the bottom of the seventh, down one run, with two outs and no one on base Pendleton Heights’ Hailee Brunnemer hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball to right field.
Down six runs at one time, it appeared the host Arabians were going to fall one run short of a comeback against Hamilton Southeastern.
Hold on before you add one to the Arabians’ loss column.
The fly ball was dropped, Brunnemer was safe at first and the Arabian rally had new life.
Caroline DeRolf followed with a single, Kieli Ryan drew a walk – on an illegal pitch – and, with the bases loaded, Khloee Gregory hit a game-winning double off the left-field fence.
Brunnemer scored the tying run and Gloria Richardson, pinch-running for DeRolf, scored the game-winner in Pendleton Heights 7-6 victory against the Royals Friday at Legends Field.
“We just battled. We got down kept fightin’, kept fightin’, and we got a break,” Pendleton Heights head coach Rob Davis said. “Good teams make other team pay (when they get) a break. They had the third out, game’s over. They should have caught the ball, they didn’t and good teams make you pay for it.
“We got a break, got lucky. To walk out of here with a win, like I told them, they were beaten and they kept fighting. That’s what good teams do.”
“My goal was to at least hit one in so we would be at least tied,” Gregory said. “I ended up hitting it out to the fence and two runs scored. I’m just proud of my team. We fought the whole game and we came back and won it.”
Hamilton Southeastern scored three runs in each of the first two innings and led 6-0 before the Arabians got their first hit, and runs, in the bottom of the second. After Gregory walked, Bo Shelton hit a two-run home run to left field.
In the fourth, Gregory walked, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a pinch-hit double by Sydney Clark.
The Arabians scored two more in the sixth inning. DeRolf singled and courtesy runner Richardson scored ahead of a Ryan double. With two outs, Ryan scored on Clark’s second double of the game.
“She came in and changed the game,” Davis said of Clark’s hitting off the bench. “I expect anyone on our team in that situation to come in. She executed. Made me look good.”
The Royals left 13 runners on base.
Hamilton Southeastern Payton Fox hit a three-run first-inning home run. In the second it looked like she was going to add a grand slam to her impressive night at the plate, but Brunnemer made a leaping catch in center field to hold the well-hit ball to just a sacrifice fly.
In the fifth inning, the Royals loaded the bases again, but with one out, third baseman Brynn Libler caught a hard-hit line drive off the bat of Jenna Chase, keeping any runners from advancing. The next ball was also hit sharply to Libler, this time on the ground. She fielded it cleanly and tagged her base to end the inning.
In the sixth, the Royals had runners at first and second with one out. Pinch-hitter Alex Kiemeyer flied out to Brunnemer. Then, Emma Vance hit a liner to center that was sinking fast. Brunnemer dove for it and made the catch for the final out.
“Hailee saved the game with that diving catch,” Davis said. “When you’re 6-2 you can cover a lot of field when you reach out.”
Defensively, we’ve been really tough (all season),” Gregory said. “We’re usually tough with the bats, but we kept popping things up. Once we started hitting it on the ground we got going. Our dugout stayed up (the whole game), cheering. We got real excited because we were getting closer. I think all of that energy brought us back.”
Hamilton Southeastern had 13 hits to Pendleton Heights eight. Five of the Arabians hits came in the last two innings. The Arabians are 14-3 on the season and have won three in a row.
“This was just one of those games.” Davis added. “(It’s) hard to explain when something like that happens.
“I’m proud of this group. I’ve been proud of them all season.”