The Avalon School built off their momentum from their win against Covenant Life on Saturday with the biggest win of the season so far, a comeback win against Gilman High School, a team ranked sixth in the state. Avalon came back from a 6-2 deficit in the fourth inning to score seven runs in the fifth, and hang on in the final two innings to win 9-8. Billy Lennox once again led the team with three hits, and Ian Foland knocked in a team- high three runs.
Avalon struck early in the first, when Billy Lennox hit a single, then stole second. Anthony Durbin scored the first run after an error and a fielders’ choice. The inning ended with Tommy Sanchez on third and Niko Sanchez on first when Pearce Howard popped out. Gilman was able to strike back quickly, however, as Blair walked, then stole second, and Grace reached base after a dropped third strike. Sheets then hit a single, tying the game and advancing Grace to third. Tilley then hit another single, which gave Gilman the lead. Pitcher Niko Sanchez was able to finish the inning without any more trouble, causing two groundouts and a strike out.
The second inning was uneventful for both teams, as batters for both squads popped out, and the only one to touch base was Aspen Feldman on a walk. The third inning was almost a successful one for Avalon, but they could not capitalize on having Tommy and Niko Sanchez on base with two outs, as Pearce Howard grounded out to the first baseman.
Gilman, on the other hand, was able to capitalize on their third inning. After Grace reached base due to a walk, Sheets smacked the second ball he saw for a home run, scoring two and making the score 4-1. Tilley then reached base on a single and stole his way to third, and Slodzinski scored him with a single. Smeton then scored Slodzinski, who made his way to third, with a ground out to second, making the score 6-1. Avalon was able to prevent further damage, with another man on third, when Mark Searles tracked down a Wey fly ball to end the inning.
Avalon was able to add one run to their score in the fourth, but once again missed the chance to do more. Mark Searles hit a single, and then got to second on an error. He got to third after Dan Searles grounded out, and scored on Aspen Feldman’s sacrifice fly. Billy Lennox and Anthony Durbin both reached base, and Ian Foland walked to load the bases, but Tommy Sanchez’s attempt to lessen the deficit was shut down with a great catch by Tilley at shortstop, and Avalon trailed 6-2.
Niko Sanchez was able to dispose of the Gilman side without too much trouble in the fourth, making Blair and Grace ground out and pop out in the first two pitches. He then forced Tilley to ground out, preventing Sheets from advancing further than second and increasing the lead from 6-2.
Avalon finally made the most of their chances in the fifth, exploding for seven runs. Niko walked, and Pearce bunted and got to base safely. They then advanced to second and third, and Mark scored Niko. Dan then scored Pearce, making the game 6-4. Aspen then walked, and Gilman replaced pitcher Schelberg with Blair. Billy Lennox then loaded the bases, and Anthony Durbin walked to make the game 6-5. Ian then brought Aspen, Billy, and Anthony home with a triple, taking the first lead of the game at 8-6. Tommy Sanchez then scored Ian before another pitching substitution was made, and new Pitcher John Locke made Niko fly out to end the inning 9-6.
Niko then shut down the Gilman side, using nine pitches to dispose of the three batters. Avalon was unable to add to their lead in the sixth, as Mark was caught stealing and Dan and Aspen struck out. Gilman then tried to make their way back into the game, as King advanced to third before being scored by Grace. Niko then intentionally walked Sheets, and Tilley flew out on the next pitch.
In Avalon’s final chance to add insurance runs, Billy Lennox hit a double and advanced to third, with Tommy Sanchez on first, with two outs, but to no avail, and Avalon had to defend a 9-7 lead. And that they did, despite Slodzinski scoring, and Wey being on third with King on first, Blair struck out to end the comeback upset. Avalon will take on archrival Heights next week, in a rematch of a conference 4-3 extra innings loss.