Tipton jolts Wildcats on walk-off home run in district semifinals

— New Bloomfield senior reliever Ethan Massman gave up a walk-off, two-run home run to Tipton’s Dylan Tate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in the No. 3 seed Wildcats’ 7-5 loss to the No. 2 Cardinals in the Class 2, District 8 semifinals Monday night.

New Bloomfield — which made the semifinals after edging No. 6 seed New Haven 6-5 in eight innings on Saturday — finished its season at 9-13. Tipton (19-6) will play either top-seeded Linn or No. 4 Russellville for the District 8 title at 6 tonight.

Tate’s shot off Massman cleared the left-field wall to break a 5-all tie as each team finished with nine hits.

“Ethan made a good pitch, but the kid put a good swing on it and had the strength to put it over the fence,” Wildcats head coach Brandon Talbot said.

Sophomore shortstop Grant Nichols and junior center fielder Tucker Lane each produced RBI singles for New Bloomfield in the top of the first to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.

The Cardinals tied the game with two runs in the third off New Bloomfield junior starter Brady Wiler, who went 4 1/3 innings. Tipton gained a 3-2 edge with a tally in the fourth.

The Wildcats regained the lead on Nichols’ two-run single that plated senior third baseman Clark Philbert and sophomore second baseman Tyler Fennewald in the sixth. Senior left fielder Justus Zumbehl — who reached on a walk — tallied the final run in the inning on a passed ball to put New Bloomfield on top 5-3.

The Cardinals tied the game with a pair of runs in their half of the sixth, before winning it in dramatic fashion in the seventh.

Massman threw 2 2/3 innings in suffering the loss. He gave up four runs on three hits, struck out five and walked three.

Nichols finished 3-for-4, while junior right fielder Sam Niedergerke went 2-for-3 with a double. Philbert was 2-for-4 with two doubles.

“We made some mistakes early on, but they battled back and the boys decided they weren’t going out like that,” Talbot said. “They had short memories, they erased it (deficit), they fought back and came back and tied the game late.

“It was great to see the kids not get timid in that pressure situation.”

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