Foothill baseball coach Matt Iglitz just asked his team to score a couple runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on Monday.
The Falcons did more than that.
Foothill plated seven runs in the sixth to come from behind for an 11-9 win over visiting Liberty in the Southeast League opener for both teams.
“In the bottom of the sixth inning we talked about trying to get a couple runs across, maybe two or three to cut (the lead) in half,” Iglitz said. “And you talk about responding.”
Foothill had led early before a five-run fifth gave the second-ranked Patriots (11-2, 0-1 Southeast) the lead. Liberty led 9-4 going into the bottom of the sixth, but the sixth-ranked Falcons (9-4, 1-0) sent 12 batters to the plate to score seven runs and take the lead.
The rally started with the bottom of the order, as No. 7 hitter Alec Mathis walked to open the inning. Spencer Throgmorton also walked, and No. 9 hitter Daniel Hauck hit a line shot back through the box to score the first run.
Ryan Moyes followed with a liner to center to score another run, and Bligh Madris added another liner up the middle to cut the lead to 9-7.
One out later, Nick Cardinale delivered an RBI double inside the bag at third. Tyler Van Stone had an RBI single to right to tie the game, and Zack Avery singled to center to give the Falcons the lead.
Madris came on in relief in the seventh, and retired the first two batters before No. 9 hitter Nick Woolery lined a single past shortstop. After Nick Rush walked, Josh McCollum laced a line drive that looked like it might be destined for the gap in right-center field.
But second baseman Cardinale made a leaping grab to end the game.
“We couldn’t tell if it was in the sun or not,” Iglitz said of Cardinale’s catch. “(McCollum) put together a great at-bat and just wouldn’t go way, kept fouling balls off. And Nick made a tough play. He stepped up and made a good play, and Bligh did a great job of coming in and nailing it down at the end in a crucial situation.”
Madris also went 4-for-4 with a run and two RBIs to lead the 14-hit attack. Van Stone was 3-for-4, and Moyes went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs.
Cardinale cruised through four innings on the mound, allowing an unearned run on one hit. But he lost the strike zone in the fifth, walking the first three batters, then giving up two singles before being lifted for Avery. Avery also struggled with his control, walking in a run and forcing another home by hitting a batter with the bases full to make it 6-4.
“That was a great high school baseball game,” Iglitz said. “In fact, in all the time I’ve been at Foothill, I think that was probably one of the most entertaining games, if not the most entertaining. And just a great way to open up league play.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.