TOUCHET — A back-and-forth affair between the Eastgate Lions and Banner Bank ended in an 8-5 win for the Lions in the Babe Ruth All-City semifinals here Tuesday afternoon.
The Lions will move on to the championship game versus the winner of today’s game, Exchange against D.A. Davidson. The rain-delayed title game is scheduled for 8 p.m. at DeSales High School’s field.
Eastgate started the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Colter McKeown led off with a 6-3 groundout before Andrew Flagstead and Jack Elsasser were both hit by pitches.
Tim Weber grounded out to shortstop, moving the runners up, and up stepped catcher Jared Ortiz with runners on second and third with two down.
Ortiz laced a line drive to the left-field gap for a two-run double before the last out was recorded.
The game stayed 2-0, Eastgate, until the bottom of the third.
With one out, Banner Bank’s Jake Roth hit an infield single, a slow roller to the shortstop that he beat out to first.
He stole second and third base before scoring on a wild pitch to get Banner Bank on the board.
Eastgate starter Colter McKeown struck out six through three innings before running into a tough stretch in the fourth.
Jake Needham led the inning off by hitting into an error, taking second on the play, but he was caught stealing and McKeown struck out Banner Bank pitcher Mike Daniel for the second out of the inning.
Things tail-spinned from there, as Banner Bank scored three runs on a double, a balk, and five walks before being replaced by Jared Ortiz, who got the final out.
“I think he (McKeown) got frustrated a little bit,” Eastgate coach Jorge Ortiz said. “One or two balks and one or two errors ended it for him. But then Jared came in and shut them down. He did a good job. He threw strikes and the defense was a little better behind him.”
“Colter McKeown and Michael (Daniel) had a good one going,” Banner Bank coach Howard Daniel said of the early innings. “Then Colter got a little wild and we took advantage of a few of their mistakes. Then we had a few mistakes of our own.”
Banner Bank tacked on a single run in the fifth to push its lead to three.
With two outs, Uptmore hit a swinging bunt to the pitcher and beat the throw to first for a hit. He scored on a hit-by-pitch and a fluke infield single by Trevor Spence, whose comebacker to Ortiz turned into a hit when he collided with the outstretched arm of the the first baseman en route to the bag.
Banner Bank threatened to blow the game open with runners on second and third, but Ortiz escaped the inning with a strikeout.
The Lions roared back with six runs over the next two innings, three in the fifth and sixth to keep its tourney hopes alive.
Caleb Shanks flew out to right field to start the sixth. Bryan Andrade walked and McKeown bunted his way on and both scored on errors.
Flagstead, who reached on a fielder’s choice, scored via the errors, tieing the game at 5 after five innings.
With two outs gone in the sixth Shanks was hit by pitch and Andrade hit an infield single. McKeown reached on an error that allowed Shanks to score.
Then up came Flagstead, who smashed a two-RBI single to left field to end the scoring.
“Andrew (Flagstead) had that clutch hit in the seventh,” Jorge Ortiz said. “That was a biggie. That was a biggie.”
In Banner Bank’s last chance in top of the seventh, Ortiz walked Needham and recorded a fielder’s-choice out at second to leave the hitter Daniel on first base.
Uptmore then lined out to Ortiz, who doubled Daniel off first base to conclude the game.
Eastgate Lions 8, Banner Bank 5
Banner Bank 001 310 0 — 5 5 3
Eastgate 200 033 X — 8 5 3
Daniel and Uptmore. McKeown, Ortiz (4) and Ortiz, McKeown.
Hits — Banner Bank: N. Roth, J. Roth, Uptmore 2, Spence. Eastgate Lions: McKeown, Flagstead, Weber, Ortiz, Andrade.