BOWLING GREEN — The Chicago Cubs credited a stirring speech delivered during a rain delay as fueling their game-winning rally in Game 7 of last year’s World Series and ending 108 years of futility.
There’s no Jason Heyward on Lake High’s roster, but the Flyers were a different team after the second of two rain delays in Thursday’s Division III baseball district semifinal at Carter Park. And, according to pitcher Jordan Bekier, the assist goes to motivational talks.
Lake scored two runs after the delay — one to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth, then the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth — to defeat Ottawa Hills 3-2.
“The team got together and started having fun and bonding,” said Bekier, describing the scene inside the dugout during a 30-minute delay because of thunderstorms.
“It’s rough for the whole team because you get tight. Once you get back out there, you have to get loose, and I think we did that very well. I came out, and that’s when I found my stuff and started pitching.”
He faced seven batters after the delay, striking out four and allowing one hit.
Bekier threw a complete game, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits, with 10 strikeouts.
“He certainly dominated us the last seven outs after the lightning delay,” Ottawa Hills coach Chris Hardman said. “We didn’t even take many good swings in the last couple innings. That was a little disappointing.
“I thought we took some great swings through the first rain delay, hit the ball right at some people. We were able to get a couple of runs, and I hoped that would be enough to win. But then baseball jumps in your face.”
At the plate, Bekier was 2 for 2 with the game-tying RBI.
“He was pressing a little too much in the first few innings,” Lake coach Greg Wilker said. “When he got that base hit, I told him, ‘Smile a little bit and have fun.’ ”
The game took 3 hours, 39 minutes and was played in sunshine, wind, and a brief torrential downpour. At first pitch, it was 87 degrees with 22-mph winds. An hour later, it was 64 thanks to a passing rain shower, and when the game ended the temperature was 77.
The second Division III semifinal — Eastwood and Rossford are tied at 1 in the bottom of the second inning — will resume at 3:30 p.m. today after thunderstorms forced its postponement. Lake plays the winner at 1 p.m. Saturday at Carter Park.
Ottawa Hills scored in the first inning after leadoff batter Jack Bassett singled and was driven home by Jack East. The Green Bears had only three hits during the final six innings and did not have a runner reach second base.
Still, they managed to score a run in the fifth after a throwing error and RBI single by Dominic Adduci.
“Good teams are going to capitalize if you give them a fourth out,” Wilker said.
Ottawa Hills found that statement to be true at the most inopportune moment.
The Flyers scored one run in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, with their third run proving to be the difference. Dylan O’Quinn’s jersey sleeve was grazed by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the sixth. He scored after a throwing error on a routine groundball to short that missed wide at first base, allowing O’Quinn to casually jog across home plate.
“That was a tough break for them, but good for us,” Bekier said. “Really nice break for us.”
Ottawa Hills pitcher Tyler Gargas allowed five hits and three runs in five-plus innings.
“We have a number of seniors, so we expect to battle,” Wilker said. “Ottawa Hills is a good team, Coach Hardman is a heck of a coach, obviously. They had great at-bats, they were very tough outs at the plate. It was a fun game to coach in. Both teams took advantage of an error. But it was a well-played game, and both pitchers battled.”
O’Quinn scored two of Lake’s three runs, and Bassett scored both Ottawa Hills runs.
“This was a tournament game, but I look at every game as a chance to play the game correctly and play it successfully,” Hardman said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted today, but we won’t second-guess the game. We needed another hit at the right time, we needed to make a defensive play.
“Our kids played hard. I’m proud of the way they handled themselves. It’s important that we keep our chins up. We have two league games next week, and we are in first place. There are still goals ahead of us.”