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Cougars Win On Walk Off In Extra Innings

Clearwater Christian College hosted Goshen College at Jack Russell Stadium before a nice crowd on a chilly Saturday afternoon. In a game that took ten innings to decide a winner, the Cougars came out on top.

Coach Rebandt said, "I was proud of the way our guys battled today. We got down 5-1 early, and I didn't want the guys to press after getting one hit through four innings. I had a good feeling we would get to their bullpen, and we had some timely hits that helped that. Baitz came in and threw well for us, keeping the momentum on our side, and hopefully Brandon will be okay."

Freshman starting pitcher Brandon Gonzalez (0-3) had to be taken out of the game in the sixth inning due to an injury on his left leg, and was taken in for x-rays.

Gonzalez threw 5 2/3 innings, gave up three earned runs, allowed nine hits, and issued six free passes. He got his second no decision in his past two starts.

Goshen College got on the board in the first inning after catcher Ben Kelly reached on an error, and scored on a wild pitch. Short stop Arick Armington reached on one of Gonzalez's free passes, and later scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of the Maple Leafs designated hitter, Caleb Yoder.

Clearwater didn't respond until the fifth inning with two outs and no runners on base. Sophomore Justin Capela got things going with a double, and scored on a single off the bat of junior Jon Rivera, collecting an RBI, and cutting the Maple Leafs lead to 2-1.

In the top of the sixth, a lead off walk followed by a single sparked a big inning for Goshen. Third baseman Jesse Quintanilla executed a sac bunt, moving both runners up a base. Kelly, who finished 2-4, scoring twice, and reaching base four times, was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. A wild pitch scored Paxon Miller, and then Bryan Aponte collected an RBI on a single, extending the lead to 4-1. Armington reached on a fielders choice, scoring Kelly, making it 5-1.

Trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Clearwater crawled back into the game. Junior Jefte Velez led off the inning with a walk, and then freshman Jake Reidy hit a one out single, followed by junior Joel Felten reaching on another walk. With the bases loaded, junior Noel Thomas hit a single that scored two, collecting two RBI's. Felten advanced to third on the play, putting runners at the corners with one out. Capela laid down a bunt on a squeeze play, scoring Felten, and advancing Thomas into scoring position, with the lead now cut to 5-4. Rivera lined out to the second baseman to end the threat.

In the bottom half of the seventh, Velez hit a two out single to extend the Cougars inning. He moved up to second on a passed ball, and freshman catcher Caleb Jordan hit a game tying RBI single, making the score 5-5.

Junior Kyle Baitz, who came in for Gonzalez in the sixth inning with two outs, threw four consecutive scoreless innings, giving Clearwater a chance to win. The Cougars missed a chance in the bottom of the ninth, leaving runners stranded on first and third, after Reidy lined out to the third baseman.

In the bottom of the tenth, Thomas, who finished the day 2-5 with a run scored and two RBI's, hit a one out double. Capela then hit a single, putting runners on the corners with one out. With Thomas in motion from third on the pitch, Rivera laid down a successful suicide squeeze, and the Cougars walked off for the third time this season with a 6-5 victory.

Baitz (1-0) picked up his first win of the season after throwing 4 1/3 innings, striking out two, and not allowing a run.

Clearwater improves to 5-12 on the season.

Notes: Clearwater's third walk off victory this season...last walk off before this season was on February 3, 2012 against Northwood University...Reidy and Velez now have seven game hitting streaks, both career highs...Capela had a career high three hits...Cougars hit 7-13 (.538) with runners in scoring position.