Summer league baseball has been back for a few weeks now.
But Tuesday night at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex, the scoreboard looked more like a football game.
"It felt like football, because they kicked the extra point to win it there," Helias coach Chris Ebright said after Southern Boone walked off with a 15-14 win in seven innings in the nightcap.
The afternoon started tamely enough, with the Eagles squeezing out a 3-1 win in the first game in five innings due to time limits. The two teams combined for seven hits — just two by the Crusaders' second varsity squad — and five walks apiece.
The second game started in similar fashion. Helias took over as the visiting team and trailed 2-1 going into the third inning. Southern Boone plated three runs on two hits and three walks to take a 5-1 lead and looked to be comfortably in control.
Summer league is all about gaining experience up and down the roster, though, so starters frequently leave in the third or fourth innings. The Crusaders threatened in the top of the fourth, and then tied the game in the top of the fifth. Nick Heislen led off with a double to left-center, Branden Scheulen followed with an RBI single, as did Kaden Hampson and Billy Underwood.
In a recurring theme of the second game, the Eagles answered in the bottom half, re-taking a 6-5 lead thanks to a single and a few wild pitches.
As the game edged closer toward its two-hour time limit, Helias batted around in the top of the sixth. Two leadoff walks started the way, a wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position and Ryan Klahr hit a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game again. Heislen was hit by pitch and Scheulen walked to re-load the bases, and Nick Jeffries' batting helmet was a few gold paint flakes lighter thanks to an errant pitch that also gave the Crusaders their first lead of the game, 7-6.
Hampson and Sam Schell each knocked RBI singles too, and when the dust settled on the half-inning, Helias had an 11-6 lead.
The Eagles answered.
"I can tell you, the fight in our guys, it's incredible," Ebright said. "It's awesome, it's an awesome group of kids. They didn't give up. Southern Boone is a really good baseball team, good athletes, they're coached well. For our young guys to come out here and compete against what coach (Brian Ash) said was going to be their starting varsity team, I mean, that's great."
Tied at 11 after six innings, the usual cap for summer league games, the two teams decided to go to extras. Sam Hentges hit a leadoff double and Klahr brought him home with a single, and then a pair of errors gave the Crusaders a 14-11 lead, but a two-out, bases-loaded double to the fence provided the walkoff win for Southern Boone.
"That's a good hitting team, and they took advantage of our mistakes," Ebright said. "Too many walks. But a lot of positives on the offensive side."