As the MIAA C Conference baseball final between Concordia Prep and Key crept into its fourth hour Sunday afternoon, fatigue likely began to settle in.
So when Patrick Simons’ line drive rolled toward the rightfield fence at Joe Cannon Stadium, he summoned a second wind. And, in turn, provide new life to Concordia’s championship hopes.
Simons made his way home on his leadoff at-bat in the top of the 12th inning as the Saints broke out with eight runs to defeat Key School, 11-4.
In the 11th and final game of the double elimination tournament, top-seed Key and fifth-seed Concordia Prep will reconvene Monday at 3 p.m. at Joe Cannon to decide the MIAA C championship.
The Saints (15-6 overall) are in play for a second title in three seasons, thanks to Simons’ mad dash after his hard line drive got the past right fielder. The senior slid into third base as the throw skipped past the third basemen.
He picked himself up and dashed home - diving across the plate with the go-ahead run.
“I was so tired after that,” Simons said of his run-scoring play. “I didn’t think I was going to get that far. Once it went over the third baseman, I didn’t even see that ball I just knew I was going to go.”
It was Simons who crossed the home plate with the tying run in the top of seventh. He’s the veteran of a Concordia roster that found ways to extend its season Sunday afternoon.
“Sometimes being young and dumb is the way to be,” Saints coach Peter Couser joked. “We have eight freshman. We had five of them out there today. Can’t say enough about the resiliency. Big hits all the way through the lineup today.”
The Saints added insurance after Simons’ score. Caleb Couser, who pitched eight innings before giving way to Simons in relief, followed with a single and stolen base. He scored on an RBI single from freshman Jordan Mentzell.
After a couple more hits and a plunked batter, the Saints were up 6-3 with the bases loaded with just one out. Sophomore Wes Osenburg added two more runs with a single to make it 8-3 and the Saints were on their way.
“I was very proud of us,” Simons said. “We lost earlier to them this season and then we went down early in the game, and we just kept bats alive and kept swinging.”
After scoring 19 runs in its first two games to advance to the finals, Key (19-4), the defending C champs, struggled getting big hits Sunday. The Obezags went ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, but were unable produce more runs with the bases loaded.
“We left way too many runners on base,” Key coach Gary Gallant said. “We gave them way too many opportunities to be in this game to the point where they eventually took it from us. All you can do in baseball is let that go and fade into the background. Hopefully come back tomorrow with a fresh start.”
With a chance to clinch Sunday, Key used its two top pitchers in Armand Ortiz and Will Downton, who pitched six innings.
“I need to figure that out,” Gallant said when asked about Monday’s pitching plan. “We have been fortunate to develop a couple of pitchers. We had a ninth grader on the mound there [Wyatt Dowton] at the end. I am not afraid to throw Wyatt again. We have enough to get through.”
Meanwhile, Peter Couser feels Concordia, which has worked its way into a decisive final game out of the loser bracket, may have a slight pitching advantage. Simons was able to finish the game effectively Sunday after starter Caleb Couser went the first eight innings.
“We’re great,” Peter Couser said. “We’ve got two guys [scheduled] tomorrow and the guy that finished [Simons] could probably give me another inning if he needs to. First of all, we said we wanted to be here. We had to win on Sunday so we can hoist the trophy on Monday. So, we will be ready.”
MIAA C CONFERENCE FINALS
at Joe Cannon Stadium
CONCORDIA PREP 11, KEY SCHOOL 4, 12 innings
Concordia Prep 110 000 100 008 – 11 13 2
Key School 200 001 000 001 – 4 10 4
\Concordia Prep: Caleb Couser, Patrik Simons (9); Key: Armand Ortiz, Will Dowton (5), Sean Boomer (12)
2B: Concordia Prep – Jonathan Couser; Key – Lachlan Armstrong
3B: Key – Armand Ortiz