DIXON – All but one out in the night's first game of a doubleheader may have sealed Dixon's fate with a loss at the hands of Plato.
The Dixon Bulldogs baseball squad battled a tough Plato team down to the wire Thursday, but only to stun the Plato team with a stellar walk-off hit.
But Plato contested late by scoring a game-tying run in a three-run seventh to tie the game, 7-7.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game going in," Dixon coach Alex Shelton said of the contest with Plato. "It's always a game you have to battle into the seventh inning], sometimes longer."
The Bulldogs' pitcher, Hunter McCoy, allowed two infield singles before hitting a Plato batter to load the bases with no outs in the inning.
Down 7-4, Plato nailed a fielder's choice for an RBI that moved them closer to the opponent. Moments later, a single to centerfield scored two runs to tie the contest, 7-7.
"Hunter had been pitching a good game," Shelton explained. "Our plan was to get those bottom two hitters out and we didn't come out really sharp that inning, but I'm still proud of Hunter; he did a good job all game long."
McCoy eventually buckled down and earned a fly out and ground out to end the inning.
With just three outs remaining, the Bulldogs' offense faced extra innings if it couldn't net a run.
Shelton prodded his team to "battle as long as it takes" between innings, instilling a fire In his team – one that burned until the the game was decided.
McCoy led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk to help his own cause. A sacrifice bunt then moved McCoy to scoring position before another Dixon batter hit a hard infield single to the Plato shortstop to get McCoy to third.
"I proud of how the bottom of the seventh started," Shelton said, before elaborating the final outcome.
With runners at the corners, Plato elected to load the bases, which brought Joe Hardwick to the plate with two outs and a tie ballgame.
Working the count to 3-2, Hardwick fouled off several Plato pitches, staying alive long enough to get the perfect pitch.
The crowd sat anxiously, waiting for Hardwick to shine before the student-athlete smoked a moonshot that dropped behind the left fielder, clanking off the top of the outfield wall to win the game – a near walk-off grand slam.
"That was a big at-bat and a great way to win the ballgame," Shelton said after the first contest. "Overall it was a big win for us tonight and we will try to ride this momentum.."
Page 2 of 2 - McCoy pitched a complete game, allowing four earned runs and seven hits, while striking out six and walking one.
To rally his offense, Dixon catcher Solomon Weider led the offensive charge with a single, triple and three RBIs in a 2-for-3 night at the plate.
Hardwick finished 2-for-5 with two singles, including the game-winning RBI.
Andrew Meier also recorded a multi-hit game for Dixon, finishing 2-for-3 with a single, double and two walks.
The night's second contest against Newburg finished early as the Bulldogs netted six runs in each the second and third innings. A run in the first made the final score 13-1 in Dixon's favor.
The Bulldogs, now 11-3 (4-0), played Crocker on Wednesday before playing again Saturday.