Rally in extra innings leaves I-35 just short of state
Trailing 9-5 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Roadrunners needed a rally to keep their Class 3A state playoff hopes alive.
The Class 3A 11th-ranked Roadrunners did, in fact, rally to force extra innings, but a second rally in the bottom of the ninth inning came up just short as the Roadrunners lost 13-11 to Class 3A fifth-ranked Bondurant-Farrar in the Class 3A Region 8 final.
Bondurant-Farrar tried to put Interstate 35 away early. The Bluejays took advantage of an error to take a two run lead in the bottom of the second.
Bluejay outfielders Isla Ekstam and Ashley Burrows gunned down the Roadrunners’ first two scoring attempts at home.
“It did stop them from running a couple times,” Bluejay head coach Roger Roland said. “It’s just like when someone throws you out stealing.”
In the bottom of the third, Brooke Brommel and Jenna Sandquist traded places with back-to-back doubles to put I-35 on the board.
The Roadrunners took their first and only lead of the game on an RBI by Caitlin Weeks in the bottom of the third inning, going up 3-2.
“That’s kind of the story of our season, that we have been behind a few times, especially late and we have kind of just hung in there and swung the bat,” Roadrunner head coach Tim Bogs said.
Coach Bogs felt a shift in pitching would throw off the Bluejay hitters. Sandquist came into the circle in the top of the sixth for the Roadrunners and fanned her first batter, getting I-35 out of the inning unscathed.
“We thought they were getting pretty good looks at Caitlin,” Bogs said. “The next inning, she (Sandquist) hasn’t thrown for a while and just ran out of gas.”
Weeks re-entered the pitching circle and Sandquist went back to shortstop in the seventh inning.
The Bluejay’s Ekstam started the seventh with a single and would be one of three Bondurant Farrar insurance runs.
I-35 carried its rally fight into the seventh. Catcher Brittany Mease started the inning with a single, followed by Weeks and Gracey Griglione.
With the tying run on third and two outs, I-35 ninth batter Megan Woods beat out a close play at first to extend the game into extra innings, 9-9.
“Even though I knew Cailey (Schlenker) was tired I just thought you know what, I’m going to live and die with my senior,” Roland said.
Carrying the momentum into the eighth, the Roadrunners stifled the heart of the Bluejay lineup.
Bondurant-Farrar’s hurler Schlenker went three up, three down against Roadrunner batters.
With Tatum Ksiazek on second, the Bluejays tried to play small ball to advance the runner, but Griglione made a diving catch to prevent the sacrifice.
With two outs and up by one, the Bluejays would score on a wild pitch to go up 11-9.
With a full count, Emily Wilson found the gap in right center, driving in two more runs, to put Bondurant-Farrar up 13-9.
Down four again and in need of another rally, Weeks sparked another scoring opportunity and the Roadrunners cut the lead to 13-11, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Bluejays punched their ticket to the state tournament for the second straight year.
“I was proud of the way they played all year,” Bogs said. “Our losses were all against rated teams.”
The Roadrunners end their season 24-6.