Monster rally: Monarchs use 7-run rally to force extras, outlast Broncos in 11 innings
No matter the situation, TMP-Marian/La Crosse baseball coach Aaron Breit is trying to teach his young team to expect to win.
Down 7-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh of Monday's Class 3A regional opener against Russell/Victoria, the Monarchs apparently took Breit's message to heart.
TMP launched a dramatic seven-run rally in the seventh to send it to extras. The Monarchs went on to outlast the Broncos in 11 innings for an 8-7 victory at Hays High, advancing to Wednesday's 2 p.m. regional semifinal against Larned at TMP.
"I try to coach resiliency, and you're not done until the last out is made," Breit said. "They're starting to figure out that there's never a doubt. You're always expected to win the game."
Up until the seventh, there wasn't much to suggest the Monarchs had a huge rally in them. TMP was blanked by Broncos' starter Jackson Cross for six innings.
"In the seventh inning, I said, 'We've got to change our approach. It's obviously not working, guys. We've got to start taking some pitches, seeing some pitches,' " Breit said, "and we stuck with that adjustment."
Cross reached his pitch limit after walking Nicholas Herrman and Joey Mindrup to start the bottom the seventh and was replaced by Aidan Rohr.
Griffin Schumacher was hit by a pitch and Jace Wentling walked to bring in a run before the Broncos recorded their first out of the frame.
Chet Irvin then delivered the first hit of the inning, singling up the middle to make it 7-2.
Mason Davison was then hit by pitch to bring the Monarchs within four, before Rohr notched a strikeout for the second out.
Herrman then delivered the hit of the game, sending a ball over the center fielder's head for a two-out, bases-loaded double to tie the game.
"I just sat on his fastball," Herrman said. "At first I thought he was going to catch it, but it went a little further than I thought.
"It's a great feeling, obviously, You just kind of feel a little bit overwhelmed and sort of relieved at the same time."
Russell kept its chances alive with a foul-tip to strikeout to strand Herrman at third.
In all, TMP (11-10) drew three walks, saw two batters hit by pitches and delivered three hits in the seventh.
"We got nothing to lose," Herrman said of the mindset heading into the bottom of the seventh. "It's the last game of the year if we lost. We just left it all on the field."
Both teams had its fair share of opportunities in extras.
TMP's Mark Rack threw out a runner at the plate to end the top of the eighth, and the Monarchs saw the potential game-winning run thrown out at home in the bottom of the ninth.
In the 11th, Caden Morgan singled and Nick Helget drew a walk before a bunt by Herrman moved the runners to second and third.
After a free pass to Mindrup, Schumacher drew a bases-loaded walk to end it.
Breit praised Herrman's clutch at-bat in the seventh inning. He credited Mark Rack's toughness on the mound in the extras, with Rack throwing three scoreless innings to earn the win.
Breit said the win was a confidence booster for his young team.
"The kids needed something like this to happen, and hopefully we can keep carrying it over," he said.
"If this doesn't give you confidence, then there's something wrong," he added.
Despite the 11-inning regional opener, Breit said the Monarchs still have plenty of pitching left for Wednesday. Wentling threw 36 pitches in his start, Morgan was maxed out with 104 pitches in six innings of relief, while Rack threw 45 pitches.
Rack, Wentling and Helget each had two hits for TMP, while Cameron Farmer had two hits for Russell (8-12). Andrew Roth, Kade Rome and Rohr each two hits for the Broncos, who scored at least one run in each of the first five innings.
Top-seeded Larned advanced to the regional semis with a 13-3 win over Beloit on Monday.
Wednesday's other semifinal is between Minneapolis and Hoisington/Central Plains at 3:30 at TMP. The semifinal winner will meet in the final at approximately 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Monday's game was played at Hays High because of wet field conditions at TMP. Wednesday's games could be moved to Larks Park if conditions at TMP aren't playable.