LAINGSBURG — Laingsburg coach Todd Randall has a simple philosophy for this time of the season.
“Survive and advance. That’s the name of the game right now,” he said after his team did moved on with a tense 5-4 victory Tuesday over Ovid-Elsie in a Division 3 pre-district game at Laingsburg.
The Wolfpack survived despite seven walks, two errors and two hit batsmen by making key plays at crucial moments.
Austin Randall, who walked twice, scored twice and was 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles, said the key for him came in the top of the third inning.
After he had reached on his first double of the day, the next hitter, Chase Rodriquez, bunted a ball down the third base line that slowly rolled about 60 feet and stopped just inside the foul line.
“That got us pumped,” Randall said. “It was more than a home run there. That’s what we needed.”
Both runners scored to tie the game, and they scored again in the fifth, when the Wolfpack generated three runs to take the lead for good.
In the meantime, Laingsburg was making plays on defense, too.
Randall picked off two runners to thwart Ovid-Elsie rallies and got out of two bases-loaded jams — one when Elliott grabbed a grounder at second, stepped on the bag and threw to first for a double play. The other came on the last play of the game, when Andrew Atkinson fielded a grounder and ran to first to end the threat, and the Marauders’ season.
“We never got down on each other,” Rodriquez said. “We were walking a lot of guys, but our guys in the field were making plays. We got a double play with the bases loaded and that’s what you need from ballplayers to be able to win games.”
The Marauders made some plays, too, none bigger than a double play in the top of the seventh. Randall had doubled and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Rodriquez.
Atkinson lifted a fly ball to center field, which Ovid-Elsie’s Aaron Hurst caught, then threw home, nailing Randall at the plate.
“We should be tagging,” Todd Randall said. “We should be walking in instead of making it a close play. A little baserunning error. A little coaching error.”
“In a close game like that, little things get magnified,” Ovid-Elsie coach Mike Loynes said. “But the kids played hard. We saved a run in the seventh to give ourselves a chance, and we had the bases loaded right in the middle of our lineup. It was all I could have asked for. We asked for a chance, and we got it.”
Devon Stringhum started for the Marauders (13-15) and went five innings, striking out six.
“They started getting better at-bats and getting deeper in counts,” he said. “They started getting a hold of the ball better and putting it in play, and we weren’t. They got a lot of good rips and we couldn’t make the play when we needed to.”
Still, Stringhum was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We played a lot better game than our last couple of outings,” he said. “So to end on this was a good note. It was a good game to end on.”
Laingsburg earned a date Saturday morning with Pewamo-Westphalia, ranked No. 1 in Division 3.
The Wolfpack played the Pirates in a doubleheader during the regular season, losing 6-2 and 15-4.
“In the first game, we made some mistakes early on,” Elliott said. “They took the lead and we couldn’t come back, but we were still competitive. I’m confident. I think it will be similar to this game (on Saturday).”
The win was the sixth in a row for Laingsburg.
“It’s very big,” Austin Randall said. “After winning a few games last week, it’s pushed us to keep going. We have a tough game Saturday (morning), but if we get past that, I’m very confident we’ll keep going.”
Division 3 Pre-District at Laingsburg
LAINGSBURG 5, OVID-ELSIE 4
Laingsburg 002 030 0 — 5 6 2
Ovid-Elsie 201 020 0 — 4 6 1
WP: Nick Woodbury, Laingsburg (relief) (2 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 K, 2 BB).
LP: Devin Stringhum, Ovid-Elsie (5 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 3 BB).
Hits: Laingsburg — Austin Randall 2-3, 2 2B, 2 R; Josh Elliott 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Holden Patterson 1-3, RBI. Ovid-Elsie — Tyler Knickerbocker 2-2, 2 BB; Cayleb Carman 0-1, 3 R, 2 BB; Hunter Bukantis 2-4.
Records Laingsburg 16-14, Ovid-Elsie 13-15-1.