The Badlands Big Sticks pulled out a 9-8 victory over the Mining City Tommyknockers in 10 innings Saturday night at 3 Legends Stadium. (Boxscore)
Carson Lundmark hit a sacrifice fly to score automatic runner Anthony Garrett with the winning run in the top of the 10th inning. The Knockers’ automatic runner was left stranded at third in the bottom of the frame as Lundmark fanned David Melfi and Jake Mastillo to end the game.
With the win, the Sticks pull into a tie with the Tommyknockers for second place in the Lewis Division. With the first-half champion Souris Valley (18-9) holding a three-game lead over the Mining City and Badlands (15-12), the team that finishes second will make the playoffs.
The Tommyknockers and Big Sticks will play the rubber match of the three-game series at 5:35 p.m. Sunday on Miners Field. Each team will then have just five games left in the regular season.
Saturday’s loss is one the Tommyknockers feel they let slip away.
With the home team up 8-7 and with lights-out closer Dylan Wilhelm on the bump, Derek Gellos scored on what can only be described as a Little League home run.
Gellos reached on an error, took third a throwing error and then scored on another throwing error to tie the game. (Note: the number of errors for the Tommyknockers in the boxscore is incorrect)
That spoiled what looked like a sure win for the Knockers, who battled back from a 5-0 hole to take a 7-5 lead with a six-run sixth.
Eric Martinez homered, while Travis Ray Jr. hit a double and two singles to lead the Big Sticks. Gellos hit a double and a single.
Seth Lucero doubled, and Miles Hartsfield and Nick Hansen each hit two singles for the Butte team. Slick-fielding shortstop Judah Wilbur and Mastillo each hit a single.
Butte native Liam Sommer pitched three strong innings of relief for the Tommyknockers. Connor Phelan threw two shutout innings before the ball was handed over to Wilhelm for what looked like a win.
The game featured a delay of more than 20 minutes in the bottom of the ninth inning because the Big Sticks protested the Tommyknockers use of a player they said was ineligible. The umpires left the field to call the league office, and the protest was denied.