The Sylvania Rams advanced to the sweet 16 of the AHSAA Class 3A State Baseball Tournament after completing a 2-game sweep of the Lexington Bears on the road Saturday.
The Rams held off a massive late-inning rally to win Game 1 by a final score of 12-11 and wrapped up their first-round series against the Area 16 champions with a 6-2 win in Game 2.
Here are recaps of both wins for the Rams, who will host the Winfield Pirates in the second round starting Friday at 5 p.m.
Sylvania jumped ahead by seven runs late in Saturday’s opener before holding off a seventh-inning comeback attempt from Lexington.
The Bears plated six runs in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying run at first base before a strikeout from Rams’ pitcher Brody Smith sealed the win for the Rams.
The game started with Sylvania taking the lead in the top of the first when Riley Johnson singled to right field and drove in Gareth Anderson from second base.
The Rams spoiled an opportunity to pad their lead in the top of the third after Drake Casey, Smith and Johnson loaded the bases on two errors and a walk with just one out. Sylvania stranded all three runners with a pair of strikeouts to end the half inning.
The Bears then carried that momentum to the plate and rallied for three runs on a walk, an error and a pair of RBI doubles to take their first lead.
That lead didn’t last for long as the Rams answered right back in the top of the fourth with a 5-run rally that started with a 1-out double from Nathan King.
Eli Gurley drove in King with a single to right field before Anderson drove in Gurley with a double to tie the game.
Casey then provided the final lead change of the game. The DeKalb County Hitter of the Year blasted a 2-0 pitch over the center-field wall for a 2-run homer to put the Rams ahead 5-3.
Johnson later walked and scored when Fisher Goza capped off the rally with an RBI single to right field to make the score 6-3.
The Rams then padded their lead with four more runs in the top of the fifth.
That rally started with King reaching on a dropped third strike before Gurley walked.
A passed ball moved both runners into scoring position before a pair of RBI singles from Anderson and Smith brought both runners home.
Smith later scored on a 2-out, RBI single from Winston Wilks with the bases loaded. Preston Holcomb tried to also score on the play, but he was thrown out at the plate.
Lexington scored two runs in their half of the fifth, but the Rams kept their lead at seven with two more runs in the top of the seventh when Goza singled to left field and drove in both Casey and Johnson to make the score 12-5.
Down to their final three outs, the Bears rallied with seven base hits, including a leadoff home run, in the bottom of the seventh.
Their first four batters reached base before Gurley got a strikeout on the mound for the first out of the inning. After two more RBI base hits, Smith came onto the mound with the score at 12-9 and two runners in scoring position.
Smith struck out the first batter he faced for the second out of the inning. A passed ball then plated a run for Lexington before an RBI single made the score 12-11.
Lexington’s next batter fouled off three consecutive 0-2 pitches before Smith finally got him to swing and miss for the final out of the game.
Casey started the game on the mound for Sylvania. He struck out seven and walked one while giving up two earned runs in five innings pitched.
Gurley then struck out three and walked one over the next 1 1/3 before Smith came in to get the final two outs of the game.
Casey’s home run gave him two RBIs in the game and he scored twice.
Smith was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and Gurley batted 1-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk.
Anderson batted 3-for-5 with two singles and a double. He scored three times and drove in two RBIs.
Goza finished 2-for-5 with a team-leading three RBIs and Johnson was 1-for-2 with two runs scored, an RBI and three walks.
King was 1-for-4 with two runs scored and Holcomb finished 1-for-3 with two walks.
After Brody Smith came in to close out the final inning of Game 1, he stayed on the mound and kept the Bears’ bats relatively quiet for six innings in Game 2.
Smith gave up one base hit through his first three innings and had a 5-run lead to work with before the Bears rallied for their only two runs in the fourth. Smith then gave up just one more base hit over his last two frames before Gurley returned to the mound to close out the seventh and sealed the series sweep for Sylvania.
Smith finished with eight strikeouts and one walk in six innings. Gurley struck out two and walked one while closing out the seventh.
The Rams’ lineup got on the board first despite not recording a hit in the bottom of the first.
Gurley drew a leadoff walk before Lexington’s pitcher struck out the next two batters.
Smith, Johnson and Holcomb then drew three consecutive walks, giving Holcomb an RBI as his free pass to first scored Gurley.
The Rams got their first base hits two innings later in the third and rallied to give Smith and Gurley all the run support they would need.
That bottom of the third started with a leadoff walk to Gurley, which was the seventh of the game at that point, before Smith ripped an RBI double to right field to make the score 2-0.
After a pair of infield fly outs, Goza drove Smith home with an RBI single to right field. Wilks and King were both then hit by pitches to load the bases before Gurley ripped a 2-RBI single to right field to cap off the rally.
Lexington then answered with their two runs in the fourth. Casey then led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. He moved to second when Johnson drew a walk and went to third on a wild pitch before scoring the final run of the game while Holcomb reached on an infield error.
The Rams had seven batters combine to draw a total of 10 walks in the win.
Gurley and Holcomb had two RBIs each and Smith drove in one.
Casey batted 1-for-2 and scored twice and Goza went 1-for-3 and scored once.