ELDON — It was the kind of game where neither team would quit and the home team ended up having the last say.
The Fulton Hornets didn't make it easy, but Eldon pulled off a topsy-turvy win Tuesday evening at McMillen Field, winning 14-13 thanks to a walk-off single from freshman Jacob Bishop.
Bishop, who had run himself into an out after leading off the sixth inning with a double, redeemed himself with the bases loaded and nobody out, flaring a single into shallow center field to score Fischer Snelling. Bishop's teammates spilled out of the third-base dugout and mobbed him in front of first base to celebrate their first win of the season.
"Our guys fought hard, didn't give up there towards the end," Eldon coach Chad Hinds said. "They fought and grinded the whole game, so that I'm proud of, especially (Bishop). Comes up, bases loaded and gets us a game-winner. That's baseball for you."
The Mustangs (1-5) snapped a five-game losing streak to open the season but had to fend off a furious comeback from Fulton and even play from behind in the bottom of the seventh inning after leading 12-4.
Eldon had two runners on with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, threatening to put the game in 10-run run-rule territory, but Fulton's James Walker, who got tagged for 10 runs in two innings of work, turned a 5-3 double play to end the threat.
"He didn't put his head down," Hornets coach John Brinkmann said. "We've talked a lot this year about, how do you help your team out even if you've struggled? And I thought he did a great job of being a team leader and saying, 'I'm going to keep working even if I didn't pitch the best tonight.'"
Walker and the Hornets (2-5) continued to show fight in the sixth. Fulton pulled two runs back after a walk and three straight singles, loaded the bases on a walk, then Lincoln Smith hit a two-run double to the gap in right to make it 12-8 Eldon.
Tyler Arthur then walked, setting the stage for Walker. With the wind gusting out, Walker hit a pitch that stayed high over the wall in left, and was given a hero's welcome behind home plate after rounding the bases.
"It was nice to see that we didn't quit," Brinkmann said. "We had a rough first four innings but we showed we can compete with anybody as long as we continue to work hard, and I thought we showed that we're never going to quit, no matter what the score is."
Fulton took the lead in the top of the seventh, as sophomore Dustin Hagens hit a one-out single to right, was advanced by a sacrifice and scored when Josh Dunmire singled up the middle.
But the Mustangs found an answer in the bottom of the frame as Jason Holland, who was 2-for-4 with three RBI, led off with a single, Snelling reached on an error and Eldon starter Ben Cline doubled to right-center, plating Holland. Gage Williams received an intentional walk, which brought Bishop to the plate.
"We were up from the get-go, got complacent, then we had to scratch and claw our way back in the last innings, so my biggest thing is don't get complacent," Hinds said.
Neither team had a great evening on the mound, with Eldon giving up 11 walks and 11 hits and Fulton allowing 13 hits and nine walks. Both starters lasted two innings, but there were some strong performances in relief: Eldon sophomore Kasen Bashore, who allowed the grand slam after entering in a tough spot, settled in and set down five of the last eight hitters he faced.
"For a sophomore, giving up a game-tying grand slam, in the past those type of kids have shut down, but he's a bulldog," Hinds said. "He said, 'Coach, I got this. I'm gonna keep fighting.' And he did."
The same was true of Fulton's Grant Derenzy. After opening the game's scoring with an RBI triple in the top of the first, he entered in the second inning and allowed two runs in his first 4 innings before Eldon loaded the bases in the seventh.
"That was huge," Brinkmann said of Derenzy's relief work. "Grant deserved to win tonight. I thought he did everything he needed to do to win, he just ran out of gas at the end, but he was a bulldog for us tonight."
Fulton returns to action at 5 p.m. Thursday when the Hornets host Marshall. Eldon's next game is a 5 p.m. first pitch Thursday at Dixon.