BEND, Oregon – A 9-0 lead after three frames looked good early but wasn’t enough late as the Bend Elks mounted a furious comeback to salvage the series finale on Monday night. Despite claiming a series victory, the GreyWolves lost a game on division-leading Yakima Valley who prevailed over Cowlitz.
In a wild top of the first, Gresham sent 11 batters to the plate and chased Bend starting pitcher Ryan Ward from the game. Ward walked six batters and surrendered two hits to the GreyWolves, who jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.
Gresham got back to work in the third frame, padding its early lead. Ryan Smith walked to load the bases with two outs, setting the stage for Konnor Zickefoose (Chapman). The third baseman came through, singling to bring home a pair of runs and extend the GreyWolves lead to 8-0. Josh Adams (UC Santa Barbara) patiently drew a bases-loaded walk to score the GreyWolves ninth run of the game. Unfortunately for Gresham, they would go scoreless for the final six innings.
Bend used seven runs in the middle three innings to make it a game again. With four runs on four hits in the fourth, one run on three hits in the fifth, and two runs on one hit in the sixth, the Elks made it a 9-7 ballgame.
Gresham was in prime position to add a key insurance run in the top of the seventh and sway the momentum back in its direction. However, Curtis Perrin (Seattle U) was ruled to have left third base early when attempting to tag on a sacrifice fly opportunity. The controversial call led to an inning-ending double play and the dismissal of head coach Justin Barchus for arguing the ruling.
Instead of pushing their lead to three runs heading to the eighth, the GreyWolves had their lead cut to a single run with another Elks score. Doing all of its work with two outs, Bend plated a run on an RBI single with Billy King scoring from first base. On an odd play, King blew through a stop sign at third base and narrowly evaded the Ben Klenke (Nebraska) tag to advance three bases on a single. Michael Clark (Cal Poly) was brought on searching for the four-out save and did his part to swiftly end the eighth.
Back on for the ninth, Clark issued a leadoff walk but retired the next two he faced via fly out and strikeout. Down to its final out, Bend used back-to-back doubles to tie and win the game, completing the improbable nine-run comeback.
In the disappointing loss, Zickefoose finished his day 2-for-5 from the plate with three RBIs to highlight the individual offensive performances for Gresham.
The GreyWolves playoff push shifts to Corvallis for a three-game series with the first half champion Corvallis Knights. The final road series of the regular season gets underway at Goss Stadium on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. with Aaron Shoup getting the start for Gresham. The GreyWolves Live Pregame Show is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.