It took a full day of baseball Monday for the Whitewater Wildcats and Houston County Bears to achieve a doubleheader split in the AAAAA state championship series, and the two teams return to the field Tuesday for a deciding third game.
Game 1 could not have ended in more dramatic fashion, as the Wildcats’ Taylor Turner hit a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh for an 8-6 win.
Turner scored the team’s first run back in the second inning after drawing a walk, but the Wildcats were held scoreless until the sixth, when they came up with four runs to tie the score at 5. Tyler Doanes singled and Brandon Bell walked, both of them scoring on a double by Nick Fuerstenau. After a walk to Turner, Evan Mask hit a two-run single to make it a tie game.
The Bears got a run in the top of the seventh, but Doanes led off the Whitewater half of the inning with a walk and Fuerstenau was hit by a pitch. That set up Turner’s game-winner that came with one out.
Christian Aragon, who came on in relief in the sixth, got the win.
It was the Wildcats’ turn to jump out to an early lead in the second game as the visitors on the scoreboard. Jacob Wilkinson led off the game with a walk and, after moving to second on Doanes’ sacrifice bunt, scored on Fuerstenau’s single.
Whitewater exploded for five runs in the second, starting a double by Mask and a walk to Jabari Richards. After Justin Trammell’s single, Wilkinson drove in a run with a hit and Doanes doubled to score two. Turner’s two-run single made the score 6-0.
That lasted until the bottom of the third, when Houston County scored five of its own. The big blow was a three-run homer by Andy Moore with one out. A solo shot in the fourth by the Bears’ Blake Jackson tied the game, and it stayed that way until extra innings.
Caleb Norton put the Wildcats ahead in the top of the ninth when he tripled over the right fielder’s head and scored on an errant cutoff throw. But the wheels came off in the bottom of the ninth as four straight walks and a single gave Houston County a 7-6 win.