There's something to be said about the resilience of the Crowder baseball team this season.
Right now, they're spelling it all out.
A team built for the postseason, the Roughriders put their MO on display Thursday when they battled back for the second day in a row and won — this time besting St. Louis Community College 5-4 Thursday in a thriller. The pitching was good, the defense was better and the offense picked up quickly when someone faltered.
The top-seeded Roughriders, the No. 6 team in the nation, take on Maple Woods, the three seed, today at 4 p.m. with the winner advancing to the Region 16 championship on Saturday. Maple Woods defeated Jefferson College 8-4 on Friday.
In a game full of pick-me-ups, perhaps none were bigger than the one Chris Scroggins provided for, well, himself.
With the Roughriders leading 4-2 in the seventh inning, Scroggins was caught leaning and picked off at first base by Archers pitcher Mike Ehrhard. At the time, that out loomed large as both Tony Sandifer and Matt Burgess followed with two-out singles, but Sandifer was stranded at third base. So instead of a run scoring on the Burgess hit, the Roughriders came away with nothing.
Scroggins erased the mistake, however, when he picked himself, and the team up in a big way in the bottom of the ninth by delivering what turned out to be the hit of the night for the Roughriders. Ryan Lazo led off the inning with a single to right, but was erased when Cody Althouse lined into a double play. But with two outs, Scroggins stepped up and rammed a solo homer to left to give the Roughriders a 5-3 cushion.
That run loomed large when the Archers rallied with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
"That was enormous," Crowder coach Travis Lallemand said of the home run.
After Preston Tarkington wriggled out of a jam in the eighth, Andrew Schwaab came on to close it out in the ninth and recorded two quick outs before running into trouble. A single by Larry Schimsa gave the Archers new life. Ehrhard then reached on an error — Crowder's only one of the game — before Matt Weiss laced a double to left to score Schimsa, making it 5-4.
But with the tying run at third and the winning run at second, Schwaab stepped up and struck out Alec Witt swinging to end it.
"What was impressive is we had two-out hits that made up for the free outs we gave up, either hitting into double plays or making mistakes," Lallemand said. "I think we scored four runs with two outs today. Our two out hitting was tremendous. I could go through every guy in the lineup and every guy on the mound that contributed for us today."
Page 2 of 2 - Woodcock's line certainly wasn't his best of the season — he walked four and struck out three — but he was still very good. His only major blunder came in the third inning when he served up a two-run homer to Ehrhard to make it 2-1 Archers. He seemed to run out of gas in the eighth when he walked a batter after a strikeout and served up a double to put the tying run at second.
He was lifted at that moment for Tarkington, who came on with one out and the tying run at second. The righty quickly coaxed a grounder to second with the bases loaded for one out before striking out Alex Stoll looking on three pitches to keep their 4-3 lead intact.
"We played these types of games all year and it's paid off in a big way," Lallemand said of his team. "They're never rattled. Win or lose we've been that way since really after the first couple of games. We've been pretty steady and put ourselves in chances to win games."
After Ehrhard's homer in the third, the Roughriders quickly picked up their pitcher with three runs of their own in the top of the fourth. Burgess walked with one out and Ty White doubled to the gap in right to spark the rally. After an out, Lucas Feddersen lined a single to left to plate both runners and give the Roughriders a 3-2 lead. Feddersen quickly stole second and Sam May sent an RBI single up the middle to make it 4-2.
Crowder (45-11) plated its first run in the second to take a 1-0 lead. After Burgess was cut down at the plate on a fielder's choice by C.J. Webster, the catcher himself came around and scored with two outs when Feddersen, who was caught stealing, stayed in a rundown long enough for him to score.
The Archers didn't help themselves any, either. They committed five errors in the game.
Woodcock ended up going 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Tarkington threw 2/3 of an inning and struck out one while Schwaab allowed an unearned run on two hits with a strikeout.
Scroggins, Lazo and Burgess each finished with two hits in the game, while Sandifer, White, Webster, Feddersen and May had one apiece. Feddersen drove in two runs, while May and Scroggins had an RBI.
Ehrhard carried his team on both sides of the ball as he went 8 2/3 innings on the mound where he allowed five runs (four earned) on 11 hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He also went 2 for 5 at the plate with the homer and two RBIs.
"They pitched out of some jams and we helped them out a little bit, but it all evened out," Lallemand said.