With three hits through five innings and a head coach watching the game from center field, the Rome Wolves regrouped Wednesday evening and got a critical Region 7-5A win.
Rome tied the game with four runs in the sixth and won in the seventh when Kade Garrard came home on a wild pitch for a 5-4 win over Woodland at Legion Field. The win came without head coach Michael Dougherty in the dugout as he served a one-game suspension after being ejected by the umpire in Rome’s previous game.
“Hats off to my staff and these kids tonight,” Dougherty said. “They’re going out there every day, they’ve worked their butts off. They have worked hard, and it is going to carry us through the region.”
Rome pitcher Jakolbi Griffin went five innings with two earned runs allowed and six strikeouts. He also had two singles and scored the game-tying run. Both Harrison Pyle and Chandler Bridges were big parts of the sixth and seventh inning rallies, reaching base in both frames.
Woodland’s Garrett Cornett and Emmanuel Jones each reached base three times and scored one run, but the Wildcats were mostly silent beyond the three-run second. A consistent fielding effort from Rome kept the Wolves alive for most of the game.
“We knew that we were going to hit the ball eventually,” Griffin said. “So starting in the sixth we just did our job, believed in each other and passed the bats back.”
Rome (9-11, 2-4 7-5A) failed to get a runner to third until the sixth, but the team kept plugging away, hoping they could get something to click and show Dougherty they were capable of pulling out a victory.
“We didn’t have a head coach, so we knew we had to do it for him,” Griffin said. “It really set in when our other coaches said, ‘Do it for coach D.’ And we just got our job done right there.”
Down 4-0, the Wolves started the bottom of the sixth with four batters getting on base, the final of which was Griffin who got a single and reached second on an error.
That plated two runs and left the door open for Garrett Howell and Alden Astin to hit into ground outs that scored two more runs.
After Garrard got on base with one out in the seventh and the game tied 4-4, a single by Pyle moved him to third. Two batters later, a pitch got in the dirt and Garrard raced home. The score ended the game with Rome getting its first lead.
Rome continues region play Friday when it hosts Cass at Legion Field.
Now, with their coach back, the Wolves look to take the focus from the late innings and transfer it to the whole game.
“The thing we have to get better at is our start, we have to go from start to finish,” Griffin said. “If we do what we did in the sixth and seventh all game, no one in the region is going to beat us.”