ELIDA, Ohio -- Lake's baseball season unraveled in what seemed like an instant on Thursday evening against Bloom-Carroll in a Division III regional semifinal.
The Flyers, who held a two-run lead over the Bulldogs after four innings, experienced their worst inning of the season during the top half of the fifth.
Bloom-Carroll rallied for 12 runs -- capped by a grand slam -- to upend Lake 16-6 in five innings.
"I was feeling good," Lake coach Greg Wilker said, referring to owning a 4-0 advantage early in the contest. "[Lake starting pitcher] Josh [Tantari] was throwing the ball well, but at this level [regional play] there's not an easy out in the lineup. There are nine tough outs."
For a while during the decisive fifth, the Bulldogs lineup appeared out-proof. Eleven consecutive batters for Bloom-Carroll made it to first base safely before the Bulldogs finally committed an out.
However, the biggest blow of the contest came with one out as Ben Kerr smacked a home run off of reliever Jayce Vancena with the bases loaded to give Bloom-Carroll a 16-6 advantage.
Tantari was removed from the mound midway through the fifth after the Bulldogs' first six batters reached base safely, leading to Bloom-Carroll taking an 8-6 advantage.
The Bulldogs, who sent 17 batters to the plate during the inning, added another eight runs to put themselves in a comfortable situation.
Bloom-Carroll right-hander Josh Gabbard didn't give up a run or even a hit in the bottom half of the fifth to secure the victory as a result of the 10-run mercy rule.
"Crazy things happen like that," said Bloom-Carroll coach Brian Thacker of the dramatic comeback win. "You never know what it's going to be like. I'd love for us to score 12 in an inning in every single game.
"It's a tribute to our kids. They went up there and had good at-bats after good at-bats. I don't know how many were hits with two strikes, but there were a lot of them. They just battled."
Lake (24-6) jumped ahead in the first inning with a four-run flurry. Vancena tagged a two-run double to give the Flyers the early lead. Jake Materni made it 3-0 with a run-scoring base hit before Cody Witt made it 4-0 with a squeeze bunt.
Yet, the Flyers didn't hold the lead for long before the Bulldogs (23-6) tied the score at 4-4 with a four-run rally in the second inning.
Lake came right back and went ahead 6-4 in the bottom half of the second on three hits and an error, including a run-scoring single by Corey Hotmer. The Flyers couldn't keep the lead for the duration.
"They're here for a reason," Wilker said, of the Bulldogs. "They were in the regional finals last year for a reason and it shows. Their kids are experienced and they play with a lot of confidence and they didn't get down when we put a four-spot on them. You've got to play seven innings."
Wilker said the Flyers have plenty more positive memories to think about than their season-ending defeat.
"I told the kids don't let one game define your season or your career," Wilker said. "We won 47 games the last two years. There's not many teams in Ohio who have won that many and I'm very proud of them and they should be proud of themselves."
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.
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