Up until the last week of the regular season, the Bishop Ludden baseball team was still unsure about whether it would make the Section III Class A playoffs.
But in the most exciting, exhausting way possible, the Gaelic Knights would get there, going to Homer Tuesday and requiring 12 long, tough innings to knock off the Trojans 4-3.
Not only did Ludden secure its own post-season ticket, it denied Homer any chance at winning the OHSL Freedom National division regular-season title, which Cortland claimed outright that same day with a 3-1 win over Jamesville-DeWitt.
Zack Walser started for the Gaelic Knights. After an exchange of runs in the third, Ludden took a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth, only to have Homer counter with Peyton Boice’s two-run single to pull back even, 3-3, in the bottom of that frame.
In the sixth, Cory Poplawski relieved Walser. As it turned out, Poplawski’s “relief” stint would amount to a start all his own, as he kept on going well past regulation.
Through the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th innings, it stayed 3-3, Poplawski doing his part as Homer starter Jake Casey lasted nine innings before Boice took over in the 10th.
Finally, in the top of the 12th, Ludden’s Kyle Hawk got a one-out single. On a hit-and-run play, Jared Taylor singled, and Hawk stunned Homer by not stopping at third base and taking off for home, beating the throw for the long-awaited tie-breaking run.
Now Poplawski had a lead to protect, and he did so, retiring the Trojans in the bottom of the 12th as he only allowed three hits and piled up 12 strikeouts.
Just one day earlier, Ludden fell, 9-2, to “Holy War” rival Christian Brothers Academy last Monday afternoon, the second time it lost to the Brothers in a five-day span, counting a 13-0 defeat on May 9.