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Thunder rally to reach Taylor Emmons Classic final

Dennis Maffezzoli - Herald Tribune
ODA scores all seven runs in the late innings to beat Tampa Berkeley Prep 7-2
 
SARASOTA

Usually, the Out-of-Door Academy baseball team is near flawless with its execution.

“Normally, we’re very efficient at getting a base runner on and plating runs with limited opportunities. We’re really good at that,” ODA coach Tim Orlosky said.

Tuesday was not one of those days.

Falling behind Tampa Berkeley Prep early, the Thunder bats came alive in the late innings.

Scoring all seven runs and collecting eight of its 11 hits in the final three innings, Out-of-Door Academy reached the Taylor Emmons Memorial Baseball Classic final with a 7-2 victory over the Buccaneers at Emmons Memorial Field. The Thunder will meet Inspiration Academy on Friday in the championship game.

“In the beginning of the game we were not executing,” Orlosky said. “Halfway through the game the approaches changes. They became better. The kids were more dialed in. They just didn’t quit.”

Austen Kessler kept the Thunder (10-1) in the game with his pitching and alertness. The right-hander picked off runners at second base in consecutive innings, the second and third, when Berkeley Prep (6-4) could have done more damage other than scoring one run.

“Getting those guys at second base was huge,” Orlosky said. “Those were momentum killers, inning killers. I felt like the momentum was in that other dugout. Our guys kept battling. I was proud of the way they came back and won that game. It was good. It was really good.”

Held to three hits, no runs and trailing 1-0 heading into the fifth inning, the Thunder began finding their groove offensively.
Back-to-back doubles to open the inning by PJ Fincher and Tanner Fairchild tied the game. Austin Brinling delivered a two-out single to produce Fairchild to break the deadlock.

Out-of-Door added two more in the sixth. Carter Dierdorf began with a double to right. One out later Tyler Colditz drew a walk. Both runners moved up on a ground out to first base. Fairchild came through with a run-scoring single. Colditz gave Out-of-Door a 4-1 lead when he continued home on an error.

After the Buccaneers got a run in the sixth, the Thunder tacked on three more in the seventh. Hits by Mason Kolbe and Brinling to open the frame paved the way. Logan Tribble reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt to load the bases. After a force out at home, Brinling crossed on an error. Tai Gilbert’s single scored another run. And Dierdorf stole home when Gilbert was caught in a rundown between first and second.

“You want to apply pressure,” Orlosky said. “You don’t want to sit back and let the game come to you.”

Fairchild ignored an early error to go 3-for-3 with two runs batted in and a run scored.

“He could have gone away from the game, but stuck with it and came up big three times,” Orlosky said of Fairchild, a sophomore. “For a young guy, that’s pretty good. That’s senior maturity level stuff.”

Brinling had three hits, a stolen base, run scored and RBI out of the leadoff spot. Fincher added a couple of hits.

The Thunder turned to Colditz to get the final out in the sixth inning and sidewinding Kolbe, who worked a perfect seventh, to close it out.

“If we can get to those guys, we’re usually in good shape,” Orlosky said.

The Thunder host Inspiration Academy Friday at 7 p.m. for the chance to win the title. Inspiration Academy reached the title game with a 4-3 win over IMG Academy Blue on Tuesday afternoon at Cardinal Mooney. Out-of-Door, which has won 10 straight after an opening game 3-2 loss at Fort Myers High, is looking to win the tournament for the second time and first since 2017.

“We’d like to win it,” Orlosky said. “Whoever we play will be a good test for us. We’ll have our hands full.”

Source: Herald Tribune
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