Ben Romines had nothing to lose.
Robert E. Lee and Forney were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth with runners at first and second and two outs.
The rules of the Rose City Classic are a two-hour time limit for games and/or one extra inning if the teams are tied.
If Romines failed to deliver, Lee and Forney would finish in a tie.
The junior designated hitter decided to be a hero instead, delivering a game-winning RBI single in a 3-2 Lee win Friday at Mike Carter Field.
Facing a 2-2 count, Romines laced a ball between third and short into left field. Ross Himes, who began the rally by reaching on a two-out walk, beat the throw home to keep the Red Raiders (3-0) unbeaten this season.
“I felt good about having him up there in that situation,” Lee coach David Howard said about Romines. “We had talked about seeing something, getting your hands extended and hitting it to the middle of the field. That is exactly what he did and I am really proud of him.”
The game-winning single was one of only four hits the Red Raiders managed against Forney pitchers Javier Eguia and Trent Taylor. Eguia went seven innings, allowing three hits with eight strikeouts. Taylor entered in the eighth and retired Lee’s first two batters before walks to Himes and Zach Flanagan set the stage for Romines.
REL countered on the mound with starter John David Cobb and Blake Korthauer. Cobb allowed one earned run in his four innings with four strikeouts. Korthauer got the win, allowing one run on two hits with five strikeouts.
“Their starter did a great job of keeping us off balance,” Howard said. “We had two guys who did a great job as well. J.D. was (solid) for the first four and (Korthauer) came in and (held and held) until we were able to win it.”
The Red Raiders were in position to win in the seventh inning thanks to a manufactured run in the bottom of the sixth. Himes was hit by a pitch, went to second on a passed ball, third on a sacrifice and scored on a passed ball.
Korthauer got Forney’s first two batters in the seventh, but a walk and wild pitch enabled Cody Tyler to deliver a two-out RBI single to tie things up.
Lee led 1-0 in the first inning when Trace Reed singled, went to third on an error and scored on a sac fly from Flanagan.
Forney tied the game in the fifth when Hunter Henderson led off with a double off the left-field wall and scored on a wild pitch. It was one of three doubles Henderson had in the game.
The Jackrabbits twice had the bases loaded against Lee in the fifth and seventh, but only managed one run.
REL made Forney pay for that with Romine’s game-winning hit.
“I am really proud of the effort of battling through the ups and downs,” Howard said. “We did some good things and they did some good things. It was just a good baseball game and to hang on and stay around and win it late; it’s really going to be a positive for us.”
Raider Rap: Other scores from Friday’s Rose City Classic action — Hallsville 9, Nacogdoches 5; Lufkin Hudson 4, Sulphur Springs 3; and Carthage 3, Forney 2.
Robert E. Lee 3, Forney 2 (8 innings)
Forney 000 100 10 — 2 6 1
Lee 100 001 01 — 3 4 0
Javier Eguia, Trent Taylor (8) and Cole Fanselow; John David Cobb, Blake Korthauer (5) and Tyler Jones. W — Korthauer (1-0). L — Taylor. 2B — FOR: Hunter Henderson (3). SB — REL: Trace Reed.
RECORDS — Forney 0-2; Robert E. Lee 3-0.
Rose City Classic
At Mike Carter Field
Nacogdoches 5, Sulphur Springs 4
Nacogdoches 2, Lufkin Hudson 0
Carthage 12, Kilgore 1
Robert E. Lee 10, Kilgore 0
Hallsville 9, Nacogdoches 5
Lufkin Hudson 4, Sulphur Springs 3
Carthage 3, Forney 2
Robert E. Lee 3, Forney 2 (8)
Lufkin Hudson vs. Kilgore (n)
Lufkin Hudson vs. Forney, 10 a.m.
Kilgore vs. Hallsville, 12:15 p.m.
Robert E. Lee vs. Nacogdoches, 2:30 p.m.
Carthage vs. Hallsville, 4:45 p.m.
Carthage vs. Sulphur Springs, 7 p.m.