The Tornadoes led 8-1 at the start of the third inning in the second game of their doubleheader with Lemoyne-Owen College, but somehow the Magicians managed to conjure up some late game—for lack of a better word, magic—to come back and win the game 13-12.
Starting pitcher Luis Benitez struggled with control issues, finishing with a total of seven walks allowing a total of four runs in only 2 2/3 innings of work.
TC head coach Will Ramos expressed considerable disappointment with Benitez.
“Luis Benitez is a guy that we really have big expectations for, a guy that’s been drafted before,” Ramos said. “This year, he didn’t show anything—no passion, no command on his fastball, no command on anything. It’s kind of a waste of time. We tried to get him going before the tournament, but that’s what we tried to do today and it backfired.”
While Ryne Drummonds and Matt Holland were serviceable in relief work, Gabriel Viso struggled mightily. Viso allowed seven runs in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Drummonds worked the team out of a jam in the third inning and finished the game with 1 1/3 innings of work while allowing one hit, no runs, and notching a strikeout.
“We just tried to shut the door with Ryne Drummonds,” Ramos said. “He gave us a good outing, but Ryne Drummond’s been throwing nonstop. Without Drummonds and Pool, maybe we don’t have 10 wins this year.”
Holland pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and striking out a batter. Viso was officially charged with the loss.
“Pitching is what gives you wins or losses,” Ramos said. “We got a loss because of the pitching. The pitching is not there. It’s very disappointing and we’ll see at the end of the year at the tournament. Hopefully, we can get it together by then.”
With TC leading 10-9 in the top of the sixth inning, shortstop Nick Foster made a costly error. Viso got the leadoff batter to flyout to Foster. Robert Sheard hit a grounder to the shortstop, but Foster couldn’t field it cleanly. Sheard went on to steal second base and came around to score, along with Cameron Essex, on a single to left field. That gave Lemoyne-Owen an 11-10 lead. With a runner on, Christopher Smith hit a double to left field to score two more runs and give the Magicians a 13-10 lead.
TC fought to make things interesting. Kody Ethridge hit a double off the left field wall in the bottom of the sixth inning to score two runs to cut the lead to 13-12.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tornadoes had two runners in scoring position with no outs, but were unable to cash in and produce runs. Georgie Santiago popped out to the third baseman in foul territory. Kameron Mizzell was intentionally walked to load the bases, but Chris Castillo struck out and Ethridge popped out to first base to end the game.
“There were two on and no out, but it was a little too much for the hitters,” Ramos said. “Georgie and all three hitters have been hitting the ball good, but at the end of the day, sometimes they just get tired and it showed today.”
The Tornadoes did manage to win the first game of the doubleheader, although it wound up being much closer than a spectator leaving after the third inning might have expected.
At the conclusion of the third inning, the Tornadoes led 12-0, but Lemoyne-Owen came back to close the gap to 14-10.
Chase Benfield went the distance, pitching seven innings while allowing ten runs, nine of them earned, and striking out four batters. Benfield, not part of the team’s regular rotation, had a shutout through four innings.
“In the first game, Chase gave us a good outing on the mound,” Ramos said. “We hit the ball very well, even though at the end it got very close and we couldn’t shut the door. Pitching was a little bit better just because I’ve got a positional player throwing on the mound. Right now, in the bullpen we don’t have people that want to step up and close the season. It’s very disappointing. We’re one of the top five or top three teams in batting, but the pitching cannot take advantage of the situation and we’re walking too many guys and making errors when we don’t need to.”
Among the standout performers at the plate, Dion Duncan went three for four with three runs scored and two RBIs. Santiago went one for two with three RBIs. In the second game, Duncan went four for five in the second game with two runs scored. Mizzell went three for four in the second game with a home run, five RBIs and two runs scored.
Ramos said a potential game with Concordia College-Selma will likely be the team’s final home game of the season, but that the doubleheader with Lemoyne-Owen was technically the final home game on the schedule.
“We appreciate all the fans,” Ramos said. “As a coach, I apologize for all the losses at home. This is the first year we dropped a lot of games at home. Most of the time, we’re very strong at home. It’s disappointing, but at the same time, I want to say thank you to all the fans.”