Whether Van Oswald’s last at-bat Friday against the visiting St. Joseph Central Indians should be scored as a hit or an error was debatable.
What wasn’t debatable was that the Truman infielder and relief pitcher’s last at-bat produced the winning run in the Patriots’ 2-1 10-inning Suburban Middle Six win.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the 10th, Oswald hit a hard grounder that took a jump at Central third baseman Gage Stagner’s chest. The ball got by Stagner and went into left field, allowing Trent DuRall to score from second.
“I knew he (relief pitcher Nick Hanlan) wasn’t going to get anything by me, so I really needed to stay back,” Oswald said. “And he threw me something inside, and I turned and ripped it.”
“Right when I hit it, I thought that he (Stagner) had a chance,” he added. “But I hit it hard enough (to) where it’d get by him.”
Patriots coach John Eglich said the at-bat would probably be an error if scored by an official scorer, given that the ball was hit extremely hard, but it was right to the infielder. However, the classification seemed less important to Eglich than the result the at-bat produced.
“We only had one run in nine innings, I believe,” he stated. “We’ll take any ball hit hard and then force them to make a play – which is exactly what happened. And I don’t think that was an easy play, by any means. But that’s the difference between winning and losing sometimes is making those difficult plays.”
Central coach Brent Seifert, however, said he probably would have scored it as a hit.
“It was a hard-hit baseball,” Seifert said. “And if he makes that play, it’s a great play.”
A seventh-inning Central rally led to the decisive at-bat. Truman (6-9, 2-2 conference) took a 1-0 fifth-inning lead when Myles Odom scored from third on an infield groundout. The Indians (7-6, 2-3) answered in the top of the seventh when courtesy runner Dawson Smith scored from second on Shayd Chandler’s one-out single to right field to force extra innings.
“We competed,” Seifert said. “We didn’t get really anything going offensively, but we were able to piece one together there in the seventh. … We had some chances early in the game – runners at third with less than two outs – but weren’t able to capitalize. And that’s, really, the difference in a game like that.”
Truman threatened to capitalize in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but couldn’t. Then, after a flyout and a groundout, DuRall walked in the bottom of the 10th. Brayden Jensen’s single moved DuRall from first to second to set up Oswald’s at-bat.