Alma capped the 5A-West season on Friday with a bizarre rally.
Alma scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a balk to beat Shiloh Christian, 8-7, and complete a doubleheader sweep.
Alma (13-13, 9-5) earned the third seed in next week’s 5A State Tournament at Nettleton with the help of Vilonia’s sweep of Greenbrier, which finished tied for third place with Alma. The teams split Monday, but Alma’s 3-0 win in the first game was better than Greenbrier’s 3-2 win the nightcap. The Airedales will play Pulaski Academy at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the state tournament.
After Alma won the first game of the doubleheader, 4-0, Shiloh Christian had to win the nightcap by at least five runs to possibly earn a state tournament berth.
Shiloh Christian (9-12, 7-7) had only a 6-2 lead heading into the home half of the seventh inning. Needing a five-run win, the Saints had to let Alma force extra innings. So that’s exactly what Shiloh did.
"That was a circus, but I know what he was doing," Alma head coach Kevin Edwards said. "We won the first game by four, and they had to win the second one by five. When it was 6-2 going into the bottom of the seventh, I was wondering what he was going to do. They had to let us tie the game. Their only chance of going to state was to beat us by five."
Cade Spencer’s one-out double scored pinch runner Colton Battles. Taking third on Spencer’s double was pinch-runner Will Montgomery.
Shiloh Christian pitcher Jake Riendl threw two wild pitches that allowed Montgomery and Spencer to score which narrowed the Saint’s lead to 6-5. Alex Burris was walked intentionally, was balked to second and took third on another wild pitch.
"It was the craziest game that I’ve ever been a part of," Shiloh Christian head coach Jimmy Harris said. "It was coming down to a three-way tie. We knew we needed to get five runs. Four might have got us in (the state tournament) over Greenbrier because they got swept by Vilonia. Four might have tied us and then it would have gone to a coin toss. When Alma scored to cut it to three, that’s what we had to do."
Then, the game got even crazier.
Reindl intentionally balked again, which should have sent Burris home with the tying run. But Edwards yelled at Nate Whitson to swing at the phantom pitch for a strike. Reindl tried to balk again, but again Whitson took a cut — which negated the balk. Reindl then changed strategy and threw a pick-off throw to third over the fence and out of play, which forced Burris home and the game into extra innings.
"We weren’t trying to embarrass anybody," Harris said. "I apologize to Alma and coach Edwards. He understood. We were trying to help our kids win. That was the only thing we could do."
After a scoreless eighth inning, Shiloh Christian scored a run in the top of the ninth on a sacrifice foul pop out by Ryne McDonald that was far enough to score Kord Offenbacker, who had singled.
In the bottom of the ninth, Montgomery reached on a fielder’s choice and took second on Spencer’s base hit. Adam Wilbanks reached on a throwing error, which allowed Montgomery to score from second with the tying run. Spencer took third and Wilbanks ended up at second on the play. Burris was walked intentionally again, and on the next attempted pitch, Shiloh Christian balked home Spencer for the win.
That balk was accidental.
Alma 4, Shiloh Christian 0 (Game 1)
Collin Ogilvie got more than enough support early from his teammates, and the senior yielded four singles and struck out nine in the complete-game shutout.
"That was humongous winning that first game," Edwards said. "He’s done that all year. We battled."
Ogilvie, who finished 6-1 in 5A-West starts with four shutouts, threw 61 of his 93 pitches for strikes and allowed just one Saint to reach second base when Shiloh Christian threatened mildly, in the second inning. Austin Connolly blooped a single to right with two outs, and Cooper Whaley followed with a single through the hole between the shortstop and third.
Ogilvie retired the next batter on a fly ball.
ALMA 4, SHILOH CHRISTIAN 0
Shiloh Christian 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
Alma 013 000 x — 4 7 0
Gray and McDonald; Ogilvie and Burris. W – Ogilvie, 6-5. L – Gray. HRs – None.
ALMA 8, SHILOH CHRISTIAN 7 (9)
Shiloh Christian 020 013 001 — 7 8 4
Alma 101 000 402 — 8 9 4
Reindl, Bandy (8) and McDonald; Farris, Burris (6) and Brown. W – Burris, 3-0. L – Bandy. HRs – None.