With the bases loaded and Guthrie down to their final four outs, Rigo Martinez took a deep breath and stepped into the batters box. The BlueJays were in the midst of an improbable rally but still trailed Bethel High School 7-6. The fact Guthrie was in the position to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth seemed far-fetched. Just two innings prior, the BlueJays trailed by five runs. To that point, Guthrie had left 11 runners stranded on base and left the bases loaded twice. That's when Guthrie relied on their patience rather than being overly assertive.
With already two outs away in the bottom of the fifth, Guthrie Head Coach Casey Porter pleaded for his team to be patient at the plate. The result was back-to-back walks, an RBI single followed by two more walks to bring Guthrie within two, 7-5. Guthrie left the bases loaded again, but the damage had been done. The momentum clearly resided in the BlueJay dugout.
After a three-up, three-down top of the sixth, Guthrie knew this was their opportunity to strike.
Austin Gellenbeck, Austin Honeycutt and Jacob Friese all drew walks with one away. After a Jackson Waddell strikeout, Guthrie was in danger of leaving the bases loaded for the third straight time. That's when Martinez delivered the biggest hit of the game.
After getting up 1-0 in the count, Martinez jumped on the next pitch, hitting a base-clearing three-run RBI triple to give Guthrie their first lead of the game 9-7. The hit proved to be the game winner as the BlueJays escaped a late scare in the top of the seventh before Gellenbeck and company were able to get out of the jam.
This win was an important one. Guthrie entered the tournament on a two-game skid after losing back-to-back games to Shawnee. With seven new starters in the line up, every win injects a boost of confidence. Especially in ugly, come from behind wins.
"It was like I told the kids, this is a group of seven new starters," Porter said. "These are the kind of ugly games that we need to find a way to win to gain some confidence. This is a talented group of kids, it didn't look like it at times today, but I'm just telling you there is a ton of talent in the Guthrie dugout. When you're trying to adjust to a new speed at this level of play, it doesn't always come out right. These kids just have to keep battling until we get comfortable and define some roles and gain some confidence."
It wasn't just the win that was important for Guthrie but it was how they won. From Evan Kowalski's early struggles on the mound and Gellenbeck reliving him with five solid innings to leaving the bases juiced multiple times and Martinez coming through in the clutch. Good teams pick up one another.
"That's kind of how it goes, that's what I told Jackson after he didn't get the base hit with the bases loaded then Rigo did," Porter said. "You know, your teammates pick you up. K-wow didn't have a great outing so then Austin picks him up. That's what good teams do. You're not going to be great every day. You're going to have to rely on your teammates some to help you out and that's kind of what we did. It was a good win."
The Guthrie BlueJays were in action Friday afternoon after the Guthrie News Leader went to press. For a full recap of the Chandler Tournament, make sure to pick up Tuesday's edition.