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Baseball: Warriors reach base when needed most

Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 12:11 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 10:21 a.m. CST
Caption
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com)
Brandon Dennis is surrounded by teammates after scoring the winning run on Monday in the bottom of the seventh inning against Alleman at Gartner Park. Sterling won 6-5, after Dennis scored on an errant throw from first to third by the Pioneers.

STERLING – Brandon Dennis was determined to have a short memory as he walked up to the plate to start the bottom of the seventh inning.

By taking that approach, Dennis created a lasting memory for himself and the Sterling Golden Warriors.

Dennis reached on an infield single and later scored the winning run for the Warriors. Dennis was engulfed by teammates at the plate, as Sterling won 6-5 for its first victory of the season.

"I couldn't think about what had happened in the first three at-bats," Dennis said. "I just told myself that it was my turn to make something happen. I got on base, and Zach [Rehmert] laid down a nice bunt. It was a total team effort."

"I think some of our kids didn't like them celebrating," Alleman coach Chris Lemon said. "I told them that they acted like they had just won their first game, because they had. They deserved it. I don't think we lost this game so much because of what we did, but because Sterling played really well."

Dennis, the Warriors' leadoff hitter, came to the plate in the seventh against Alleman reliever Andrew Fox (0-1). Dennis had grounded out in his three previous at-bats. In fact, the top three Warrior batters in the order had gone 0-for-8 with a walk against Fox and starter Michael Barnett.

Dennis slipped a low-rolling grounder past Fox that died in the grass in front of second base. He moved to second on a nice bunt by Rehmert. Brody Siegmund then hit the first pitch to shortstop Miguel Sierra.

Sierra fielded the ball and threw to first as Dennis broke for third. First baseman Gunner Haskins recorded the out at first, but his throw back across the diamond sailed past third baseman Jonah Saranglao, allowing Dennis to break for home for the winning run.

"We want to be aggressive on the basepaths," first-year coach Nick Pepper said. "What I really liked today is that we had a lot of quality at-bats. I think we had like 17 quality at-bats. That's a big step in the right direction."

Sterling freshman Turner Morse (1-0) went the distance, allowing nine hits and five runs, while striking out two and walking two. Morse fought through jams in nearly every inning, including allowing the leadoff man to reach base in each of the first six innings.

"I joked with him to see what it was like to get the leadoff guy out just once," Pepper said. "He did a great job, though. Every time they'd get someone on base, he'd hunker down and make the pitches."

"Working out of the stretch really worked for him," Dennis said. "He really stepped up today, and the fact that he's a freshman, it's really impressive to come out and pitch like that."

After falling behind 2-0, the Warriors (1-3) rallied back with two runs in the second after Bryant Lilly opened the inning with a double, the game's lone extra-base hit. After a walk to Morse and a strikeout by Kolton Wright, Lilly scored on a wild pitch.

Nick McGurie then drove in Morse with a groundout.

Alleman (4-1) tallied single runs in the third and fourth, but the Warriors rallied back as Lilly and Morse once again crossed the plate. Frankie Perino drove in Lilly on a groundout, and then Morse scored on a wild pitch.

Keegan Wellman tied the score at five in the sixth with a two-out single that scored Wright.

Star of the game: Turner Morse, Sterling, 7 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 SO, 2 BB, 1 HBP; also scored two runs

Key performer: Bryant Lilly, Sterling, 2 runs, 2B

Up next: Rochelle at Sterling, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday

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