Every time it appeared Delta was going to pull away, Blissfield responded with exactly what they needed to make it a game again, eventually leading to a 14-11 victory in eight innings for the Royals in ACME baseball action in Delta Thursday.
Picking up action in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Panthers built their second lead of at least three runs when they broke a tie at 5-5.
Max Hoffman singled and stole second base to lead off the inning. Austin Michael followed with a double to bring home Hoffman, giving the Panthers the lead yet again.
A Jayce Helminiak bunt advanced Michael to third with only one out recorded. Then, Drew Clifton bunted one sharply which made it past Blissfield pitcher Isaac Haneline who was charging in, scoring Michael for a 7-5 Panther lead.
Clifton later got to third on a wild pitch that reached the backstop, and scored on another wild pitch to make it an 8-5 Delta advantage.
The Royals answered back in a big way, but not until the top of the seventh.
After a leadoff walk issued to Brenden Holland, Delta turned to its third pitcher of the day, Hunter Hamilton. He replaced Helminiak who had relieved Chase Stickley earlier in the game.
Holland would make it to third on a wild pickoff attempt at first, then he scored when Trent Freudenberg reached on an error. Haneline followed with a single, both he and Freudenberg moved up on a wild pitch, culminating with Scott Jackson’s two-run single to knot the score at eight runs apiece.
Then, Hamilton lost command of the strike zone. He walked 4 of the next 7 batters – three of which came with the bases loaded – extending the Royal lead to 11-8 heading into the home half of the seventh.
However, then it was the Panthers turn at a comeback. Michael doubled to lead it off, getting to third on a wild pitch. Helminiak followed with a walk, putting runners at the corners, and leading to a pitching change by the Royals as Nolan Savich replaced Haneline.
But, Michael scored after Savich attempted to pick him off at third, missing the target badly. Clifton and Trevor Wittes followed with RBI singles in two of the next three at-bats, knotting the score at 11-all.
Blissfield, however, would pick up right where they left off in the seventh when they went to bat in the eighth. Their first two batters reached, the latter being Jackson who advanced to second on an error at first, scoring Haneline.
Savich’s double brought home another run, then after a flyout, Chase Collier’s RBI single put the difference at 14-11. Delta had a pair of batters reach with two outs in the bottom of the frame, but a groundout squashed the threat.
The Panthers had jumped on top early, 4-0, with two runs each in the bottom of the first and third innings.
In the first, Hoffman got them on the board with a two-run double to right field. An error helped score Chase Cooper in the home half of the third, plus Helminiak brought home another with an RBI hit.
However, the Royals tied it with four runs on four hits in the next half inning. From there, the two squads exchanged blows until Blissfield finally gained the upperhand.
Leading the Royal attack was Savich who finished 3 for 4 with a walk and a run batted in. Collier finished 2 for 4 with a walk and two RBIs.
For Delta, Hoffman went 2 for 5 with a pair of RBIs, while Michael finished 2 for 3 with an RBI.
The Panthers open tournament play in the District 2 ACME North Sectional with a game at Wauseon this Friday at 6 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010