Last team standing
IC Regina finds a way in 16-inning marathon vs. EBF
Sarah Lehman sat in the dugout and cried as her Iowa City Regina teammates got set to bat in the bottom of the 16th inning at the Rogers Sports Complex on Friday night.
Yes, that’s right: the 16th inning.
But little did Lehman know that those tears of disappointment would become tears of joy just 15 minutes later.
Iowa City Regina’s senior pitcher had a front row seat to an epic showdown in the Class 2A state title game on Buena Vista University Field, as she and the Regals stormed back from a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the 16th to somehow prevail over Eddyville-Blakesburg- Fremont, 5-4.
“That is definitely something that I’ll never forget and I will always cherish this game,” Lehman, who fanned a state-tournament record 22 batters, said with those tears still streaming down her cheeks moments after she was named the captain of the all-tournament team. “There were so many ups and downs; to come out with the win is incredible.”
The classic tied the state tournament record for the longest game; Charles City and Harlan also went 16 innings in a 1980 consolation game. The 3-hour, 24-minute marathon included 27 hits, 26 strikeouts, 31 runners stranded on base and seven errors.
Emma Corkery scored the winning run for the eighth-ranked Regals when EBF blinked and made a fielding error with two outs in the bottom of the 16th. It ended a rousing rally that included five hits and four runs after the Rockets vaulted in front 4-1 in the top of the frame.
“This is an unforgettable moment,” Corkery said after Regina won its second state championship in the last three years. “We kept telling everyone in the dugout that the game was not over. As the home team, we weren’t just going to roll over and let it happen.”
Maeve Dunn and Carrigan O’Connor ripped back-to-back base hits for the Regals in their final at bat. After a ground-out, Emma Bonnett made it 4-2 with a RBI single to right.
Corkery followed with another run-scoring single, this one to left, to close the gap to 4-3.
With runners at first and second, Jess Hunter took a Randie Richmond offering and smoked it into right-center for a RBI double to knot it up at 4. After a Lehman line-out to center, Katie Bracken hit the deciding grounder that EBF was unable to corral.
One side of the field stormed the diamond in celebration. The other crumbled to the ground in heartbreak.
“This is definitely the highest of highs and lowest of lows,” EBF lead-off hitter Taryn Swartz said after a 3 for 7 evening at the plate that included two runs scored and a RBI single in the top of the 16th that broke a 14-inning scoring drought for the combatants. “We were on top of the world … but then they win.
“It’s tough. But I’m super proud of my team. We fought until the very end and just came out on the losing end.”
Briana VerSteegh opened the 16th for EBF with a bloop double down the line and two batters later Swartz hit a chopper up the middle past a drawn-in infield to give the Rockets the 2-1 lead. Haegen Boyer added a RBI sacrifice fly to center and Richmond pushed the cushion to 4-1 on a passed ball.
But Regina’s mental toughness allowed it to, somehow, figure out a way to climb back.
“We did it as a team and that was the most important part,” Lehman said after she threw 200-plus pitches. “I got tense and I just couldn’t throw my best, but I knew my defense was there to help me out, and I’m so thankful for that.”
Swartz scored the first run of the game before the fans even had a chance to get comfortable. She drew one of seven walks from Lehman and then moved from first to third on a Richmond sac bunt.
A throw to third was wide and it allowed Swartz to truck to the plate to make it 1-0.
Regina drew even in the second courtesy of a RBI grounder off the bat of Dunne.
And then the goose eggs took over.
Regina appeared to be on the title’s doorstep in the 12th inning when Taylor O’Connor led off with a single. She was on second when Gardner lined a base hit up the middle, but EFB center fielder Reina Taylor threw a bullet to Claire Jager at the plate to record the out and push the game deeper into extra innings.
Jager went 4 for 8 at the plate for the Rockets and Reina Taylor added a pair of hits. EBF finished with 11 in all.
Corkery (4 for 8), Hunter (3 for 8), Dunne (2 for 6), Paisley Gardner (2 for 5) and Carrigan O’Connor (2 for 2) combined for 13 of the Regals’ 16 hits.
Corkery and Bracken were also named to the Class 2A all-tournament team for the Regals. EBF was represented by Taylor, Jager, Swartz and Richmond, who went all 16 innings in the pitcher’s circle.
Other all-tournament team members included Hailee Ausenhaus of Central Springs, Carlyn Stanley of Interstate 35, and Cathy Ralfs and Ruby Kappeler of Durant.
IOWA CITY REGINA 5,
FREEMONT 4 (16 INN.)
EBF 100 000 000 000 000 3–4 11 4
ICR 010 000 000 000 000 4–5 16 3
Randie Richmond and Claire Jager. Sarah Lehman and Maeve Dunne. W — Lehman. L — Richmond. 2B — EBF: Jager, Briana VerSteegh; ICR: Jess Hunter. 3B — EBF: Taryn Swartz. RBI — EBF: Swartz, Haegan Boyer; ICR: Hunter, Dunne, Emily Bonnett, Emma Corkery.