ALTAMONT — St. Anthony could not have put its back much further against the ropes Wednesday afternoon, trailing 4-1 with two outs in the seventh of the National Trail Conference semifinals against Altamont. The game even looked to be over, as Altamont reliever Klaiton Wolff forced Jacob Lorenz to hit a grounder to shortstop Ryan Armstrong. But the ball stuck in his glove a bit long, and his throw was low, allowing Lorenz to reach safely. That error sparked a fire, as the next four Bulldogs would reach, tying the game on an Eli Dasenbrock RBI single and a two-run single down the left field line by Braden Puckett. With second life, St. Anthony outlasted Altamont. They'd score three in the ninth, starting with the closest of plays at the plate. St. Anthony's first two runners reached, and were bunted over by Dasenbrock. With runners on second and third, Puckett hit a high chopper to Armstrong, who fielded and gathered the high grounder, but his throw home was just late as Neil Williams slid under Aaron Goeckner's tag.THe BUlldogs scored on an infield single by Eric Gurtner, and Puckett scored on a Goeckner error to clinch the 7-4 victory."We had nobody on and two outs, down three. And we find a way," said St. Anthony coach Kenny Koenig. "I told Williams, 'With your speed, if he hits it anywhere, you're going.' He hit one of those high choppers that works with the infield in."Altamont briefly threatened in the ninth as Brady Winn singled and Cole Borders walked, and both moved up later in the inning on wild pitches. But Zach Gardewine struck out Trevor Cornett and forced two fly balls to keep the score at 7-4.The fourth-seeded Bulldogs advance to the National Trail Conference title game Saturday at Altamont, where they will face second-seeded South Central for the second straight year. "Basically, (it'll take) the same never quit attitude. Putting the ball in play. We're going to try again Saturday. Altamont grabbed the lead in the first inning on a Goeckner RBI single, but St. Anthony responded with a Scott Rentfrow RBI single in the second. From there, each team had its rallies and chances, but things would stay quiet until the bottom of the sixth. Garrett Ziegler led off the inning with a bloop single to left field, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and got to third on an infield single by Jacob Miller. Indians coach Mike Dokey called for the suicide squeeze, and Wolff laid a perfect one down the first-base line, scoring Ziegler and going for a bunt single.Cadin Miller had a two-out RBI single that scored Jacob Miller, and Armstrong also scored on the hit thanks to an error in right field. Despite the rally in the sixth, Koenig stuck with Gardewine into extras. "Zach never let it affect him, and threw a great game," Koenig said. "We've been talking about having that bulldog mentality on the mound, getting in that tough situation and saying this guy's mine, he's not getting a hit. Goeckner was almost the hero in the seventh, hitting a towering fly ball to left field that looked to have home run distance, but fell short for a double and he was stranded there. Gardewine went all nine innings, allowing nine hits and four runs (three earned), striking out six and walking just two batters. Puckett was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run, and Gurtner and Dasenbrock went 2-for-4 with an RBI.Cole Borders started the game and went six innings, giving up one unearned run on three hits. He struck out five and walked four. Klaiton Wolff took the loss, allowing six runs (two earned) in his three innings. Goeckner went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a double, Winn was 2-for-4 with a double and Cadin Miller was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Altamont will face Windsor/Stew-Stras at noon on Saturday for third place in the NTC.
St. Anthony 010 000 303 7 9 4Altamont 100 003 000 4 9 4WP - Gardewine (9 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 K, 2 BB) LP - Wolff (3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 5 K, 2 BB)St. Anthony: Lorenz (0-4, R, BB); Williams (1-4, 2 R, HBP); Bushur (1-3, 2 R, 2 BB); Dasenbrock (2-4, RBI); Brad. Puckett (2-5, 3 RBI, R); Hoelscher (0-5, R); Gurtner (2-4, RBI); Rentfrow (1-3, RBI)Altamont: Cornett (1-5, R); Ziegler (1-5, R); Goeckner (2-4, 2B, RBI); J. Miller (1-3, R, BB); Wolff (1-4, RBI); Armstrong (1-4, R, SB); C. Miller (1-2, RBI); Winn (2-4, 2B)