PARKERSBURG — Ben Hummel pitched seven strong innings for the Jesup baseball team Tuesday night, but there was a chance he wasn’t going to have anything to show for it.
Removed from the mound in a 5-5 tie, Hummel found another way to make his impact felt when he launched a two-run home run to left in the bottom of the eighth for a dramatic, 7-5 walk-off win over Waterloo Columbus in Class 2A district action.
“I knew (Henry) Walters is a hard thrower and I just was waiting for his fastball,” Hummel said. “I got it and when I swung I just knew. It came off the bat well and I knew it was going to go over.”
Hummel’s game-winner came with one out and Cade Nolan on first base.
“We are just so happy to get out of here with the win,” said Hummel. “That was my only home run all year and it came at the right time.”
It was just the second home run of the season for the J-Hawks, who missed a golden opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when they came up empty after loading the bases with nobody out.
Columbus (15-21) had a chance of its own in the top of the eighth with two runners on, but Jesup (17-10) escaped that jam.
Four walks and a hit helped the J-Hawks score three runs in the bottom of the first, then Hummel and Columbus starter Lucas Benda settled into a pitching duel.
Benda struck out 10 batters over the next five frames and Hummel struck out seven going into the top of the fourth when three errors and a double by Walters helped Columbus tally five runs to grab the lead.
“I thought we had it at that point with the strong pitching we had coming up,” Sailors coach Don Spore said. “We just messed up a couple times and missed a chance to stop a run with a throw at the plate. I do have to give credit to Hummel because he hit the crap out of that ball.”
Jesup tied it in the fifth. With two outs and two on, Alex Moore delivered a two-run single.
Then the J-Hawks saw their seventh inning threat come unraveled.
“We tried a squeeze in that seventh inning to get the run in, but he (Walters) threw a high pitch and we didn’t get it done,” Jesup coach Bruce Wall said. “We had a little conference after that and told the guys that they don’t let things like that set them back.
“I have a lot of respect for Columbus and they put up a great fight.”
The J-Hawks will take on Denver in Saturday’s district final in Parkersburg.
DENVER 1, APLINGTON-PARKERSBURG 0: Denver starting pitcher Zach Miller shut down Aplington-Parkersburg and Bo McMahon singled home Nathan Eggena in the top of the seventh for the game’s only run.
Miller struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to send the Cyclones (16-14) into Saturday’s district final against Jesup.
“I felt pretty confident tonight and my fastball felt really good,” Miller said. “I think I got a little stronger as the game went on and then after Bo (McMahon) got that hit and we scored, the adrenaline kicked in from there.”
Miller struck out eight Falcons and allowed just two hits.
Jesup 7, Columbus 5
Columbus 000 500 00 — 5 6 3
Jesup 300 020 02 — 7 5 3
Boleyn, Benda (1), Walters (6) and Benda, Boleyn (1). Hummel, Nolan (8) and Schmit. HR—Hummel (J). 2B—Walters (C).