With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, the Hoppers’ fate rested on the shoulders of Blake Jackson.
Coming into the game, Jackson had 15 home runs. None would have been bigger than Friday night against last year’s Ohio Valley League champion Dubois County.
With a runner on first and two down, Jackson stepped up to the plate, but the Hopper magic ran out for the night as Hoptown fell 10-9 in extra innings.
While the Hoppers suffered the defeat on the field, Hoptown manager Brock Moss had to deal with the loss in his living room.
Moss got tossed in the fifth inning during an exchange with the home plate umpire.
“The reasoning for my ejection was arguing balls and strikes,” he said. “Kind of pretty much all there was to it. Umpire wouldn’t give me any other answer but that they were around the zone, not in the strike zone. Only answer he would give me was to ‘Tell your guys to throw it in the strike zone.’ Basically after me just trying to pry, he warned me I can’t argue balls and strikes so it finally led to my ejection.”
Moss’ ejection came when he took Sage Holderfield out of the game in the fifth inning in exchange for Kendall Marshall.
Holderfield gave up eight earned runs in the loss. With two doubleheaders in the next three days, Moss said that definitely had something to do with him keeping his starter in the game.
With how we felt knowing the type of pitcher Sage is, we definitely felt like we could kind of get him through another inning or two,” Moss said. “He’s a bulldog and he wanted to.”
Hoptown jumped on the board first with an Aidan Elias home run in the bottom of the frame, but Hoptown’s 2-0 lead wouldn’t last long as the Bombers broke the game open in the top of the third with seven runs.
“These guys battle,” Moss said. “It’s been time and time again where we either jumped ahead of somebody, coughed something up and then battled back or somebody jumps on us and we just fought back to give ourselves a chance. They just battle. They don’t stop. It obviously doesn’t always go our way, which is indicated by the win and loss record, but there’s something to be said about guys that just don’t quit.”
Nick Proto finished with two hits, including a solo home run to start the scoring in the Hoppers’ five-run fourth inning. Cole Cummings and Cody Hartness also finished with two hits in the loss.
Jackson entered the game with 15 bombs and 45 RBIs. Last season, Reese Alexiades finished the season with eight home runs and the OVL lead with 44 RBIs. Jackson now has 46 RBIs with seven games left.
Hoptown only mustered four hits in Thursday’s loss, but rebounded with 11 in Friday’s loss.
The Hoppers now look to tonight’s doubleheader against Muhlenberg County where the heat index will be well over 100 at 5 p.m.’s first pitch.
With seven games left, Hoptown holds on to a 2 ½ game lead in the West Division with Paducah right on its tail. Madisonville is 5 ½ games back with Fulton grasping at straws as they sit six games back.