Game 3 between the Marist War Eagles & HoCo Bears in the AAAAAA Playoffs Sweet Sixteen was chaotic, intense, and the emotions were extremely high on both teams as these two went back forth with each other until the Bears blew the game open late to down the War Eagles 18-7 in six innings to win the series 2-1 and advance to the Elite Eight for the fifth consecutive season (excluding 2020).
Marist got on base quickly with a first pitch leadoff single and later in the top half of the first…. H. Hightower hit an rbi single that ran in J. Euart to give the War Eagles an early 1-0 lead going into the last of the first. HoCo tied the game at 1 when Andrew Dunford hit an rbi single that ran in courtesy runner Christian Wahiwe.
The Bears grabbed the lead 2-1 when Hunter Chiappetta grounded out to second and Drew Burress came in to score the run and later in the inning… Ryker Chavis hit an rbi double that ran in Andrew Dunford to give HoCo a 3-1 lead going into the top of the second.
Marist went 1-2-3 in the top half of the second and the Bears went back to work on offense. With one out on the board in the bottom half of the second, Drew Burress hit a 2 rbi double that ran in Vick Gann and courtesy runner Christian Wahiwe however… his run to home plate resulted in some big time fireworks.
Wahiwe rounded third base and looked like he attempted to slide and the Marist catcher completely impeded Wahiwe’s path resulting in a big collision that banged up HoCo’s #20 and the home plate umpire initially called him out but after talking it over with the other two umpires, they called Wahiwe safe and the Bears pushed their lead to 5-1 and that call being made set off the dynamite so to speak on the Marist side.
War Eagles head coach Mike Strickland was not pleased with the call being overturned and he and another Marist coach got ejected from the ballgame (Wahiwe would be okay thankfully and continue in the ballgame). Play resumed and two more outs were quickly recorded and Game 3 headed to the top half of the third. The War Eagles dialed back into the contest and began to mount a rally when H. Hightower hit a rbi single to run in J. Euart to make the score 5-2 in favor of the host.
Marist plated another run when A. Buschmann hit an rbi single that ran in C Comerford to make the score 5-3 Bears going into the last of the third. HoCo stranded the bases in the bottom half of the third and failed to plate a run and the War Eagles went back to work on offense in the top half of the fourth.
Marist would tie the game at 5 when M. Schoenberg hit a 2 rbi double that ran in Gerrick and H. Adams. HoCo would get out of the inning without allowing another run and would retake the lead… this time for good in the last of the fourth when Kai Decker hit an rbi single that ran in Drew Burress to make the score 6-5 HoCo.
With two outs on the board, Elijah Smith hit an rbi single that ran in Hunter Chiappetta to increase the lead to 7-5 and later… Vick Gann was walked which rounded the bases and ran in Ryker Chavis to make the score 8-5 Bears heading into the top half of the fifth inning.
The War Eagles refused to go quietly as they mounted another rally and plated their sixth run when H. Hightower scored on a wild pitch to make the score 8-6 and C. Hare hit a sac fly to center that would run in A. Buschmann to make the score 8-7 in favor of the home team but Marist was still searching for more as they had the bases loaded and looked primed to either tie the game or retake the lead from HoCo with two outs on the board.
J. Euart hit a line drive ball to left but Bears’ third baseman Kai Decker made a leaping grab to rob the War Eagles’ shortstop and saving two possibly three runs from scoring and ending the first of the fifth. HoCo would take over Game 3 starting in the last of the fifth when Drew Burress led the inning off with a solo jack to center to push the lead to 9-7 HoCo.
Andrew Dunford would follow suit by breaking out of his home run slump by cranking a solo jack deep to left to give the Bears a 10-7 lead (this was Dunford’s first home run since Game 2 of a doubleheader at Thomas Co Central back on Friday March 24th). With two outs on the board; Ryker Chavis came up to bat and he got in on the home run fun as he cranked a solo jack to center to give the Bears an 11-7 lead heading into the top of the sixth.
Center fielder Drew Burress came into pitch and would shutdown the Marist bats by getting a 1-2-3 inning to get Game 3 to the last of the sixth where HoCo would continue to pour it on the visitors until the run rule came into play. Eli Stephens hit an rbi double that ran in Ethan Buffone to make the score 12-7 in favor of the host.
Drew Burress hit a sacrifice fly to right that would run in Vick Gann and made the score 13-7 Bears and Andrew Dunford would hit an rbi double that ran in courtesy runner Christian Wahiwe and the score was now 14-7 HoCo but the Bears were not done scoring. Kai Decker hit an rbi double that would run in courtesy runner Hudson Sherman to make the score 15-7 HoCo.
Hunter Chiappetta hit an rbi single that would run in Kai Decker to make the score 16-7 in favor of the host. With two outs on the board and a runner at second… Elijah Smith came up to bat and ended the game by cranking a two run jack to left that would run in himself and Hunter Chiappetta to give the Bears the 18-7 victory in six in Game 3 to win the series 2-1 over Marist to advance to the Elite Eight for the fifth consecutive season.
Drew Burress led the way for HoCo in rbis with four followed by Andrew Dunford and Elijah Smith with three; Kai Decker, Hunter Chiappetta, and Ryker Chavis with two and Eli Stephens along with Vick Gann with one. The Bears’ pitchers combined to allow seven runs (all earned) on 11 hits, walking one, and striking out six.
H. Hightower and M. Schoenberg led Marist in rbis with two followed by A. Buschmann and C. Hare with one. The War Eagles pitchers combined to allow 18 runs (15 earned) on 21 hits, walking four, and striking out four. Marist committed one error while HoCo committed no errors in Game 3. The War Eagles end their 2023 season at 21-14-1 overall.
The Bears picked up win number 30 tonight and currently sit at 30-5 overall and will host the Blessed Trinity Titans (27-7 overall) in the AAAAAA Playoffs Elite Eight this Friday May 5th for the doubleheader with times TBD and the IF game slated for Saturday May 6th.