The Cubs, a Triad Adult Baseball League team consisting of many Stokes County players, were in action again on Sunday evening, April 22, at Ted Leonard Recreation Center in Greensboro. Down by four runs in their final at-bat, they looked ready to be handed their first loss of the season by the Athletics. But in one of the most incredible comebacks ever in that league, the Cubbies ended up winning 7-6 in extra innings.
The first three innings were a pitchers’ duel with neither team scoring. Ryan Smith of Walnut Cove was on the mound for the Cubs and had allowed no hits. The A’s pitcher was one that had given the Cubs trouble for years, defeating them two years ago in the TABL championship game.
But in the top of the fourth, the A’s began a slow but steady scoring run when a Cubs’ error and two hits put them up 1-0. The score inched up to 2-0 in the fifth after two walks and another hit. The A’s went up 4-0 in the sixth after another Cubs’ error and a hit-by-pitch put two men on base, who later scored on two singles.
After a silent seventh inning, the A’s added one additional run to their total in the eighth after two more Cubs’ errors. Still, the Cubs were scoreless, having only managed two infield hits—one from Elijah Evans of Walnut Cove and another by Slater Jones.
As the bottom of the eighth and final inning rolled around, the prospects of a Cubs’ win did not look promising.
Then suddenly the tide turned. The A’s, who had only committed one error all evening, allowed the first Cubs’ batter to reach base on an error. The A’s pitcher, who had given up only two hits all night, gave up two more back-to-back—loading the bases.
With a pitching change came a base on balls to Smith, walking in the first run to end the shut-out. The next Cubs batter struck out, bringing Drew Bowman to the plate. On a full count, Bowman hit a grounder back to the pitcher, making a force-out at the plate seem a surety.
But the runner reached home first, and it was then that the chaos began. With Cubs’ runners still advancing, the A’s pitcher threw the ball over the second baseman’s head into centerfield. The centerfielder then threw the ball away again, followed by more throwing errors by the A’s.
All the while, Cubs’ runners were crossing the plate, including Bowman whose simple grounder back to the pitcher cleared the bases and brought him home as well. In less than a minute and in unbelievable fashion, the Cubs had tied the game 5-5.
It was on to extra innings.
Neither team scored in the ninth, and since the game’s time limit had run out by the 10th, the extra-innings “speed-up” rule was put into effect—the last two batted outs placed on first and second base, and each batter given a 1-1 count with no outs.
Controversy erupted in the top of the inning when the A’s scored on an uncaught pop-up that should have been the infield fly rule. The umpire’s explanation was that the Cubs’ player’s feet were not set to make the catch. The A’s were now up 6-5.
It was do-or-die for the Cubs in the bottom of the 10th as the previous inning’s last two batted outs—Tanner Lomax of King and Jacob Williams of Pine Hall—were put on first and second, per the speed-up rule. At the plate was Keelan Marshall of King whose dramatic grand slam in the previous weekend’s game was a huge factor in the Cubs’ win. This time, the difference-maker was Marshall’s sacrifice bunt to advance the runners.
With one out and runners at second and third now, the A’s elected to intentionally walk Evans to load the bases for the easier force option. Next up was Mason Dutton of King. With a 2-2 count, Dutton smashed a single that was enough to score both Lomax and Williams to end the game—Cubs on top 7-6.
For the Cubs on the mound, Smith went 4 1/3 innings, giving up three hits, striking out six and walking only two. In relief was Dutton who pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing only two hits and striking out 12 while only giving up two walks.
The Cubs are now 3-0 and still at the top of the TABL standings. They are back in action at Leonard Field on Sun., April 29, taking on the Monarchs at 1 p.m. TABL games are open to the public at no charge.