CLYMAN — Tony Schmitt’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Clyman Canners a 7-5 win over the Neosho Rockets in the Rock River League Southern Division playoff opener on Saturday at Stueber Field.
With the game tied at 5-5, Dave McFarland drew a one-out walk against Neosho starter Brad Wittnebel and Schmitt followed with a game-winning two-run shot to right.
The second and third place teams in the Southern Division traded leads in a tight battle reminiscent of the two regular season matchups won by Clyman.
Neosho opened the scoring in the top of the first inning when Matt Beyer reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Brent Young’s base hit to left.
Clyman answered with single runs over the next three innings to take the lead.
Brock Vredeveld drew a leadoff walk in the home half of the first, moved to second on a base hit by Clint Rose and scored when Ryan Kaul reached on an error to tie it at 1-1.
McFarland hit a one-out single in the second inning, moved to second on a base hit by Vredeveld and scored when Rose reached on an error.
The Rockets committed five errors in the first three innings, and two of them led to another Clyman run in the third. Nick Schmitt and Nick Lenzensorf both reached on an error and Schmitt scored on Josh Oswald’s 4-6-3 double play to make it 3-1.
The Canners committed three errors in this one, and one of them helped Neosho to take a 4-3 lead in the fourth.
Young and Robby Proehl led off with singles against Clyman starter Nick Klavekoske and Young scored on an RBI single by Jake Savana. Proehl and Savana scored when Zach Lauersdorf reached on an error as the Rockets regained the lead.
Clyman threatened in the fifth but came away empty. Nick Schmitt and Lenzendorf drew walks and Oswald reached on a bunt up the third base line to load the bases with no outs.
Wittnebel finished the game with four strikeouts. Three of them got him out of this jam. He struck out Shaun Wegner, McFarland and Tony Schmitt swinging to end the threat.
Neosho extended its lead in the top of the seventh when catcher Brandon Egnarski hit a solo homer to left to make it 5-3.
The Canners pulled even in the bottom of the frame. Lenzendorf doubled to right and Oswald followed with a two-run homer to right to knot the game at 5-5.
Klavekoske gave up a one-out double to Proehl, who advanced to third on a groundout. Savana was intentionally walked and Klavekoske got out of the inning when he retired Tucker Crabtree on a 6-3 groundout.
Vredeveld relieved Klavekoske in the ninth and hit Lauersdorf with a pitch to start it off. Egnarski hit into a fielder’s choice and Austin Geller sacrificed him over to second, but Vredeveld got out of the inning when Beyer flew out to right.
The decision went to Vredeveld after Schmitt earned some redemption for striking out earlier with the bases loaded with the walk-off bomb out of the No. 9 spot in the order.
Neosho 100 300 100 — 5 6 5
Clyman 111 000 202 — 7 8 3
Pitching (ip-h-er-bb-so) — N (Wittnebel 8.1-8-5-9-4), C (Klavekoske 8-6-3-1-4, Vredeveld 1-0-0-0-0)
Leading hitters — Young (N) 2x4, Proehl (N) 2x4, Vredeveld (C) 2x4
2B — N (Proehl), C (Lenzendorf)
HR — N (Egnarski), C (T. Schmitt, Oswald)