WOODSTOCK – For six innings Friday at Emricson Park, the Hampshire and Woodstock baseball teams found plenty of ways to score.
They combined for 16 runs through six innings, and Woodstock managed to erase an 8-2 Whip-Purs lead, which they took into the fifth.
But suddenly neither team could score a run, and as shadows started to cover the baseball diamond with the setting sun, Hampshire and Woodstock needed extra innings to decide the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division game.
Finally, Woodstock came through in the ninth. The Blue Streaks loaded the bases with nobody out, and they were ready for a walk-off hit. It wasn't needed. On a 1-1 count, a wild pitch allowed Jordan Sumner to easily score from third for the walk-off 9-8 win.
Woodstock junior Austin Butts fueled the Blue Streaks' comeback. Trailing Hampshire (5-11, 1-8 FVC Fox) heading into the fifth, 8-2, Butts gave Woodstock (4-7, 2-6) a much-needed jolt. Butts hit a grand slam over the fence in left field for his third home run of the season to cut Hampshire's lead to 8-6.
Butts said it was the first grand slam of his career.
"I just swung as hard as I could," Butts said. "Honestly, I was just looking to hit the very first pitch because I knew it was going to be a strike."
Butts came through again in his next at-bat in the sixth. Cameron Grisolia brought Woodstock within a run, 8-7, with his RBI single, and two batters later, Butts hit a single to score the tying run for his fifth RBI of the game.
Hampshire senior Colin Gogoel kept his team in the game with his relief appearance. After Butts' game-tying single, Gogoel struck out the next six Blue Streaks batters. But the offense wasn't able to replicate that success. Hampshire managed only two hits over the final four innings.
"Frustrated to say the least," Hampshire coach John Sarna said. "We should have put them away and won the game. Unfortunately we gave them a chance, and when Butts hit the grand slam and it was 8-6, we were in trouble because they had confidence and we were anemic on the basepaths."
It was quite the reversal from Hampshire's first few innings. The Whip-Purs took advantage of three Woodstock errors in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. They tacked on three more in the third against Woodstock sophomore starting pitcher Dan Mutter. In his first varsity start, Mutter pitched 2 1/3 allowing seven runs – only three earned – on six hits. His effort impressed Woodstock coach John Oliveira as well his team's ability to fight back.
"The defense picked up after [Butts'] home run," Oliveira said. "Pitchers were attacking the zone. ... This was one of those days where we came through in the end."