Through two tense games and 13 innings, Bishop Grimes baseball pitcher Chris Schad had done a remarkable job keeping the pesky Pulaski Blue Devils off the board, pushing his undefeated, state Class C no. 2-ranked Cobras side to brink of a regular-season sweep.
But it was that 14th inning, and what took place in it, that would keep Grimes from total regular-season satisfaction, Pulaski rallying with a combination of timely hits and daring strategy to pull out last Wednesday’s rematch with the Cobras by a score of 2-1.
There was nothing unusual about Schad returning to the mound again, since four days had passed since he had efficiently beaten Pulaski 1-0 in a classic pitchers’ duel with Blue Devils ace Cody Mosher.
So on normal rest, Schad would face down the Blue Devils again – but Grimes didn’t have to worry about Mosher, as Tom Taplin got the pitching nod instead.
Neither side budged until the top of the third. Joe Arrigo doubled, and when Schad delivered a single, Arrigo raced home, giving Grimes a 1-0 lead. Taplin allowed nothing more, though, and with a complete-game, five-hit effort that involved eight strikeouts, he gave Pulaski a chance to win.
The Blue Devils had come back the day before, scoring twice in the seventh inning and three times in the eighth to rally past Hannibal 5-2, so a one-run deficit wasn’t going to faze them, even as Schad moved closer and closer to a second straight complete-game shutout.
Entering the bottom of the seventh, Schad had allowed just two hits and picked up nine strikeouts, but in that inning, he started to tire, only recording one but seeing Pulaski notch three singles (one of them by Taplin) and load the bases, just as it had done in the fourth inning of their first meeting.