Ottawa Hills needed a victory more than Cardinal Stritch when the two Toledo Area Athletic Conference rivals met on Tuesday afternoon.
The Green Bears trailed the first-place Cardinals by a game in the TAAC standings, losing when the two teams met last month.
To keep any hope alive at winning the league, Ottawa Hills couldn’t afford a loss.
The Green Bears responded with a 5-2 come-from-behind victory on their home field.
Ottawa Hills overcame a 2-0 deficit early by scoring five unanswered runs, including a three-run sixth inning to break open what had been a 2-all score.
The Green Bears (6-15, 6-2 TAAC) rallied for three runs on two hits and an error in the decisive frame. Judah Wollenburg led off with a base hit and scored the game-deciding run on an RBI bloop single to center by Geoff Beans with no outs.
PHOTO GALLERY: Cardinal Stritch vs. Ottawa Hills
Ottawa Hills added two more runs to give right-hander Scott Tucker plenty of cushion to close out the Cardinals (9-10, 7-2 TAAC).
“I was just pumped up, and I was ready to go get three outs,” said Tucker, recorded three quick outs to end the game.
The win keeps Ottawa Hills behind Stritch in the conference race by only a half-game with five TAAC contests left.
Ottawa Hills coach Chris Hardman was pleased about how the Bears fought back, showing the resiliency and offensive output he’s wanted to see on a more consistent basis this season.
“Believe me, scoring three runs in an inning has been an onslaught for us,” Hardman said about the sixth-inning rally.
Ottawa Hills also scored a run on a wild pitch thrown by Stritch right-hander Cody Kuch and on a fielder’s choice during the sixth.
“It’s a big win because we had not played well in the past month and a half,” Hardman said.
The TAAC contest didn’t start out well for the Bears.
Stritch scored two runs in the second off of Tucker, who gave up only one hit that inning — a leadoff double by Jake Empie.
However, the Cardinals took advantage of back-to-back fielding errors by the Bears and a pair of sacrifice bunts to take a 2-0 lead.
Stritch’s lead didn’t last long. Tucker helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly in the third, and Joe Mackey tied the score at 2 for the Bears with a hit in the fourth.
It wasn’t too much later before the Bears got to Kuch for three runs in the sixth to take a lead and keep it.
“The kid does a really nice job, but he didn’t have his best stuff today,” Stritch coach Craig Meinzer said.
The two teams could square off as soon as Tuesday in a Division IV sectional matchup should Ottawa Hills beat Fayette on Saturday afternoon in an opening round sectional game. The winner will play Stritch.
“We just need to make sure we take care of business the next time we play them,” Meinzer said.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302, or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.