Prep baseball | Cardinal Mooney rallies past Out-of-Door Academy for district championship

6th-inning rally gives visitors district crown

jdill@bradenton.comApril 27, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Austin Bingham took care of things with his bat, then mowed down the opposition with his arm.

Consequently, Bingham and his Cardinal Mooney baseball teammates host a region quarterfinal next week.

The Cougars (18-8) edged host Out-of-Door Academy 6-5 to capture the Class 3A-District 10 title on Thursday at Taylor Emmons Memorial Field.

It's the first district championship for Mooney's baseball program since 2010.

The victory also gives the Cougars a 2-1 edge in the season series against the Thunder (19-4).

Thursday's tilt, though, was a see-saw battle until the late innings.

In the top of the sixth inning, Mooney battled back from a two-run deficit to plate three runs for its first lead of the game.

The go-ahead scoring play came off Bingham's bat, when he smacked a would-be extra-base hit down the third base line.

ODA's Desmond Lindsey snagged the ball, however, and fired to first base.

First baseman Alex Horan came off the bag toward third base to scoop the ball as Bingham easily beat the long throw.

Horan didn't field it cleanly and lost sight of the baseball momentarily, opening a brief window for Matthew Quinlan to race to home plate after beginning the play at second base.

That provided the final 6-5 margin for the Cougars.

ODA wasn't going quietly and had runners in scoring position in the last two innings against Bingham, who relieved starter Garrett Schrantz and John Roddenberry.

The junior proceeded to work around two errors and a base hit in those final two frames by striking out Jimmy Kuebler to end the game and set off a Mooney celebration.

"I just had to stay positive," Bingham said. "I've been going through a slump a little bit at the plate, and I just got to stay positive. I know I have a (heck) of a team behind me, and baseball's all about being positive."

Zach Giczewksi (3-for-4, double, three RBIs, stolen base) tied the game at 3 in the third inning with a bases-clearing triple to center field.

Prior to that, ODA stormed out to an early lead behind timely two-out hitting in the first two innings that netted a 3-0 advantage.

The Thunder only managed four hits, but produced base runners in every inning off either walks, errors or hit batsmen.

"Baseball is a game of failure, and it's how we handle adversity," ODA head coach Billy Dietrich said. "We had right here back again in the bottom of the seventh inning. We were right back there. But give them credit, they came back when we were up. ... That's baseball."

For Mooney, Quinlan (2-for-3, two runs, stolen base, RBI) and pinch-hitter Nick Susie (RBI double) led the offense.

Cougars head coach John Bennett's decision to insert Susie and Brent Rhode as pinch-hitters in the top of the sixth inning paid off as rally starters for Bingham's heroics.

"(Nick) Levanduski and (Robert) Shay have been struggling the last couple weeks at the plate," Bennett said. "But they are better defensively than anybody I've got at this point is what we feel as a coaching staff, and those guys have been swinging it great for me all year. They've been coming through in key situations. They had a great round (Wednesday) at B.P., and I just felt like it was time to see what they had (Thursday)."

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