Service loses on 9-8 walk-off to Ridgeline (UT) at NWCART

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Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Aug 7, 2022

For the second time in the four postseason games, Service Post 28 battled back from a three-run deficit only to lose on a walk-off.

It happened at the Alaska Legion AA State Tournament title game and it happened again in an elimination game at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament.

Baseball can be cruel sometimes.

The Ridgeline Wolverines of Millville, Utah, beat Service 9-8 on Hayden Hansen’s one-out single through the hole on the left side to plate Tyson Smith.

Smith led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and advanced to second base on a sac bunt before scoring the winning run.

It was a roller-coaster game that saw the Cougars take a 5-0 lead after the top of the first only to find themselves down 8-5 after four innings.

Meanwhile, poor fielding cost the Cougars for the second straight night as Service allowed unearned runs in each of the second, third and fourth innings.

Service (23-13) also suffered from some bad luck – at the plate and in the field.

Hunter Christian was robbed of a two-out RBI after his hard grounder up the middle deflected off the pitcher’s glove and took a room-service hop to the shortstop, who stepped on the bag for a force out.

Later, second baseman Sean Giffen slipped on the bag taking the feed from the shortstop to deny a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play.

Meanwhile, Service pitchers hung tough.

Reliever Kolby Jensen got out of the third inning after stranding a runner in scoring position. In the fourth, Jensen struck out Cooper Clark – snapping his staff’s streak of 31 plate appearances without a strikeout dating back to last night’s 13-11 loss to Butte (MT).

Christian, who took over for Jensen, wiggled out of bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth to keep it an 8-5 game. It was premier postseason pitching performance that seemed to ignite the Cougars.

They needed a boost against Ridgeline reliever Mason Williams, who hadn’t allowed a run in his four innings of work before Service touched him up for a three spot in the fifth.

Owen Hickman and Jensen banged out back-to-back base hits to set up Sebastian Fournier, who smacked a line drive into the right-centerfield gap for a two-run triple.

Fournier – who led Service with seven RBIs in three NWCART games – scored on a wild pitch with one out to tie the game at 8.

Christian worked a 1-2-3 sixth inning, thanks to center fielder Carson Maltby’s marvelous running catch right at the fence and a terrific 12-to-6 curveball that caught Williams looking on strike three.

In the end, though, Ridgeline (30-2) made a few more plays to survive and advance.

Two Wolverines' relievers combined to retire the final nine batters in order, with Williams doing most of the heavy lifting after coming in relief after the first five Service batters reached base (and scored) in the first inning.

Fournier finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs, Jake Rafferty was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Giffen went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Service finished the tournament with a 1-2 record, moving Alaska teams to 11-29 against Lower 48 competition at the NWCART since 2011.