A packed house at the Bardo Recreation Grounds got to see a little of everything on Monday night as the Rebels and Athletics continued their rivalry with a playoff berth on the line including a bench clearing gentlemen's disagreement in the bottom of the third inning, sparking the Rebels comeback.
RHP Curt Stensrud threw a complete game 4 hitter versus the Athletics, surrendering only 4 singles along with 2 walks and 2 hit batters but ran into some trouble in the third inning. With back to back hit batters (C Don Oslund and 3B Rob Berrecloth) to lead off the inning the Rebels quickly found themselves in a hole as the Athletics loaded the bases with no outs. A RBI single to 2B Ryan Olsen and an error to 3B Craig Koughan later, the Athletics quickly pulled ahead 2-0. CF Dylan Berrecloth would hit into a 5-2 fielders choice and in the process of running to first base, slide and took the legs of 1B Kyle Reinholt out, sending the big cat to the ground. The impact sent Reinholt out of the game with concussion like symptoms while RF Kris Kushnerick came in from right field to stick up for the injured Reinholt. After the players returned to the benches and cooler heads prevailed, the Rebels found themselves in a 3-0 hole after three innings with RHP Ray Lehman working on a no hit, 5 strikeout performance thus far.
But the Rebels collected there first hit of the game the very next inning along with a walk to push a runner into scoring position for the first time in the game. The offence would continue to roll into the fourth inning when C Dustin Solberg would reach via a single before being put out at second base with a 3B Craig Koughan fielder's choice. RF Kris Kushnerick would waste no time in his second at bat versus Lehman connecting on a first pitch breaking ball and driving a frozen rope into the left field slough to bring the Rebels to within a run at 3-2.
With Stensrud now fired up on the mound the Rebels would push the tying run across the plate as 1B Travis Bugge, who came in to replace the injured Kyle Reinholt, reached on a single to right field before being pinch ran for by Josh Kope. Kope would go first to third on a DH Kevin Reinholt single to right field but a throwing error to P Ray Lehman on the cutoff would allow Kope to score tying the game at 3-3. Stensrud would surrender only a walk from this point on, recording 6 outs versus the next 7 batters he faced, setting the table for his offence to produce in the seventh.
3B Craig Koughan would leadoff the seventh with a single back up the middle and with two past balls charged to C Don Oslund would find himself at third with no one out. RF Kris Kushnerick lined out to 1B Gary Yurkowski for the first out and CF Josh Lyons would work a walk from Lehman in what turned out to be Lehman's last batter of the game. Bardo would swap Lehman for Oslund at the mound and behind the plate with LF Corey Epp coming to bat with one out. Epp would just miss on a first pitch fastball down the chute from Oslund giving 2B Brian Tavaroli the opportunity to win the game.
Tavaroli would connect on an Oslund breaking ball sending the line drive double into the left field corner easily scoring Koughan from third and with Lyons heading home, Tavaroli would let himself get caught in a run down to ensure Lyons was safe at home and giving the Rebels a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh. Stensrud asked for one run from his offence heading into the seventh, they delivered with two runs.
Stensrud would strike out the Athletics clean up hitter RF Craig Neufeld before getting both C Ray Lehman and CF Dylan Berrecloth to line out to RF Kris Kushnerick to end the game and move the Rebels into a showdown with the Leduc Milleteers.
The win gives the Rebels a 3-2 overall series win versus the Athletics and tied up the season series at 2-2.
The Rebels will now roll into Leduc for a Wednesday night game versus the first place Milleteers. The status of 1B Kyle Reinholt is unknown but some fear the big guy's season might be over due to concussion like symptoms suffered at the game.
The loss of Reinholt's bat will mean other Rebels will have to step up to help carry the offensive load for the team against the PBL's best pitching staff in round one.