HUMBOLDT — Allen Community College’s baseball team has taken its Road Warrior mentality to the next level.
The Red Devils, who likely won’t get to play their first true home game until late March, completed a four-game sweep over Ellsworth in walk-off fashion Sunday.
Allen rallied from a six-run deficit, scoring seven runs combined in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, including the walk-off winner on a passed ball to win, 7-6.
The win caps a 4-0 weekend for ACC, which won earlier Sunday, 7-1. On Saturday, the Red Devils rolled to wins of 10-1 and 5-4.
Weather delays have stalled installation of a new turf infield at the ACC baseball diamond. In the interim, Allen is playing its “home” games at the Humboldt Sports Complex.
The victories put ACC at 8-2 on the season as they travel today to Ottawa to take on the Ottawa University junior varsity.
“The biggest thing for us is we got to play a lot of people,” Red Devil head coach Clint Stoy said. “You’ve got a chance to play 35-40 guys in a weekend and still win four games. Kids come to Iola to play ball and get an education.”
They also got to learn a bit about keeping their poise and staying focused after a slow start in Sunday’s finale.
A pair of fielding miscues led to four unearned runs combined in the first and second innings as Ellsworth jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead.
“The first two innings really weren’t very good, but after that we got back to doing what we’d been doing the whole series,” Stoy said, namely with dominant pitching and timely hitting.
Lukas Rich got things going with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth, followed by Lucas McCain’s two-run blast to slice the deficit to 6-4.
But the Red Devils left the bases loaded in the inning, then did so again in the bottom of the sixth after Alec Roberts scored on a passed ball to make it 6-5.
Allen’s winning rally in the bottom of the seventh (and final) inning came without getting the ball out of the infield. Josh Prinner legged out an infield single, and Jonah Weisner’s perfectly placed sacrifice bunt attempt wound up becoming a single when he easily beat the throw to first base. Then, a wild pitch moved both the runners to second and third.
Roberts grounded the next pitch to the Ellsworth second baseman, who threw home, but not in time before Prinner slid beneath the catcher’s tag to tie the score at 6-6.
The Panthers loaded the bases with an intentional walk, a strategy that paid off, but only briefly, when Ellsworth earned a force at home off Rich’s ground ball.
But it only delayed the inevitable.
A passed ball on the next pitch allowed Roberts to score easily for the game-winner.
“When you’re down 6-0 for five innings, it shows a little bit of character in your club and what they can do,” Stoy said. “Coach (Dan) Christmann kept emphasizing to them to keep playing, keep playing. That’s exactly what they did. We caught a couple of breaks and then just kept plugging away and kept playing our style of baseball.”
Levi Bennett got the win with two perfect innings of relief, striking out two. He followed Alex Dilley’s successful stint out of the pen. Dilley struck out five in his two perfect innings on the mound.
Of note, Allen pitchers struck out a combined 51 Ellsworth batters over the four-game set. Conversely, Red Devil hitters went yard a combined nine times.
Allen 7, Ellsworth 1
Luke Stone scattered four hits over five innings with nine strikeouts to pick up the win. Connor Clark also had two innings of relief with five more Ks.
Kurt Colubski homered and Khyle Radcliffe smacked a two-run double as part of a four-run second inning. Roberts also had an RBI double in the frame. Prinner hit an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth. He later stole third and scored on a throwing error.
Allen 10, Ellsworth 1
Jacob Davenport was the pitching star. He walked the first batter he saw, gave up an RBI double two batters later, and then nothing after that. He struck out seven in his five innings of one-hit ball.
Allen’s batters were much more productive. Weisner tied the score with a leadoff blast in the bottom of the first. McCain’s single plated two more, and Golubski’s blast put ACC on top, 5-1, before the end of the frame.
Rich homered in the second to make it 6-1, before Colton Patterson and Radcliffe blasted two-run shots in a four-run sixth.
Allen 5, Ellsworth 4
Paxton Bryan came on in relief for ACC in the top of the seventh with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. He proceeded to induce a grounder to seal the dramatic victory.
Levi Bennett homered in the first and McCain’s RBI double in the third gave ACC a 2-0 lead before Ellsworth tied in the top of the fourth. Prinner’s solo home run opened the third to push the Red Devils back on top, 3-2. Bennett scored on a stolen base in the fourth for a 4-2 margin.
Ellsworth closed the gap to 4-3 before McCain scored on an errant pickoff throw in the fifth.