Down 11-5 heading to the sixth inning, Ben Russell scored four runs in the sixth and three runs in the seventh to push the game into extra innings where they were able to pull off the dramatic comeback.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with mistakes,” said Fayetteville head coach Morris Phillips. “I’m extremely proud of the kids for being able to compete and hang with a 6A school, but we gave the game away ourselves.”
The Wolves, ranked second in Class 1A, dropped to 14-5 with the loss, while Ben Russell improved to 19-8.
“It was exciting for everyone but the coaches,” said Benjamin Russell head coach Richy Brooks. “We knew (Fayetteville) was good. I wouldn’t have bothered coming down here if I didn’t think it would be good competition. But I credit my kids. We didn’t play well for five innings and we found a way to get back in the game and put runs across.”
It didn’t take long for Benjamin Russell to score, as the Wildcats put four runs and a homer on the board in the top of the first.
But just as it looked like the Wildcats were running away with it, Fayetteville responded in the bottom of the inning with five runs.
Andrew Scott hit a double to left field, advancing Williams to third. With Jeremy Melton at the plate, Parks threw a wild pitch and Williams stole home on the play to make it 4-1.
Melton then doubled, which scored Scott from third.
Justin Ricks kept the scoring going with another double, and Melton came home to cut the deficit to 4-3.
With the tying run at third, Dalton Vick homered to put the Wolves up 5-4.
“It was nice to hit the ball being down 4-0,” Phillips said. “We battled back and chipped away. Congratulations to Vick, he’s been struggling at the plate this season and he came through huge. His home run was a big lift.”
The Wildcats made a pitching change in the second inning, as Steven Welcher came in to relieve Parks.
After a double, Williams scored his second run of the game following a single from Melton, pushing the Fayetteville lead to 6-4. Melton then came around when Ricks doubled to make it 7-4.
Fayetteville added another run in the inning with a two-out single from Garner, which allowed Ricks to score.
Seth Johnston scored the lone run in the top of the third for Ben Russell off a single from David Dunlap to bring the score to 8-5.
The Wildcats made a second pitching change for the third inning, as Landon Coker took the mound for the Wildcats, but three more runs poured in for Fayetteville.
Zach McGrady and Williams scored when Scott singled and reached third base on an error. Moments later, Melton’s sacrifice fly allowed Scott to tag up from third and score the 11th run for the Wolves.
After three straight innings with runs from both teams, the scoring halted in the fourth and fifth innings.
Ben Russell kept Coker pitching for the fourth inning until Ethan Jones became the fourth Wildcat pitcher in the bottom of the fifth.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Jarrett Vick walked Horn with the bases loaded, and Ben Russell cut the lead to 11-6.
The next batter, Jayme Dewberry, reached first on an error and Parks came home to cut the lead to 11-7. Two singles later, the lead dwindled to 11-9.
Williams turned a double play to get the Wolves out of the jam and Fayetteville maintained the two-run lead heading to the bottom of the sixth inning. Running for Ricks, Alan Fulmer scored on a wild throw to first base in the bottom of the inning making it 12-9,
But Darius Reese hit a three-run homer to left in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 12-12.
Phillips put McGrady on the mound following the home run. He struck out the next batter, but a Dunlap bunt later in the inning allowed Johnston to score from third, and Ben Russell took the lead for the first time since the first inning.
McGrady then struck out another to send the game to the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs and Williams on second, Melton’s fly ball dropped into left field, and Williams scored to tie the game at 13 all.
McGrady struck out three batters in the top of the eighth to keep the game tied.
“(McGrady) is just a sophomore,” Phillips said. “He’s a phenomenal ball player whoe does everything we ask him to do. For him to pitch the way he did makes me very proud.”
In the ninth, Bryant Horn tagged up to score Ben Russell’s 14th and final run following a fly ball.
McGrady reached first base in the bottom of the inning for the Wolves, and would later advance to second, but was caught stealing third with Williams at the plate for the second out.
The decision to steal may have cost Fayetteville a chance to tie the game, as Williams was unable to reach base and Ben Russell escaped with the narrow win after nearly three and a half hours of play.
“We’re taking this extremely hard,” Phillips said. “When you’re up 11-5 heading into the sixth inning, you should win the ball game.”
Fayetteville is scheduled to host Sylacauga at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and Leeds the same day at 5 p.m.