WINSLOW — It’s early enough in the baseball season for players and teams to form habits. Coaches want to break the bad ones and build off of the good ones.

First-year Winslow coach Aaron Wolfe is understandably conflicted about his team’s fledgling habit of pulling off late comeback wins.

“It’s not a very good habit,” he said, “but it’s, I guess, better than it could be.”

Three days after rallying from a four-run deficit in the seventh to defeat Nokomis 15-14, the Black Raiders came back from being down 7-2 against Gardiner, scoring four in the sixth and two in the seventh to win 8-7.

“We definitely thought we could score a bunch of runs in an inning because we’ve done it throughout the season, so we were just looking to continue it,” said Jake Trask, who threw six innings of shutout relief to keep Gardiner from running away with the game.

Dameron Rodrigue’s bouncer squirted under the gloves of Gardiner’s first and second basemen to send Spencer Miranda home with the winning run. A walk and three Tiger errors in the inning aided the comeback.

The two teams combined for 12 errors on a windy and dusty day at Nivison Diamond.

The Tigers’ defense, which made seven miscues, alternated between sloppy and spectacular behind starting pitcher Nik Berube, but settled down and came through with a big play for reliever Josh McKelvey in the bottom of the sixth to temporarily preserve the lead before breaking down again in the seventh.

“We made a couple of mistakes. Some days we’ll be on the better end of those, too,” Gardiner coach Russell Beckwith said. “I’m not worried about us. If we can stay with Winslow, I think we’ll be around with everybody.”

Gardiner (4-2) tapped Winslow starter Tanner Jackson for a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-run single by Brad Weston and RBI double by Brady Smith. Winslow (5-1) got two runs back when Trask drove one in with a single and Dylan Hapworth scored on an error by Smith at third. Smith more than made up for the miscue on the next play, robbing Jackson of a ground ball single with a diving stop then, while still lying on his side on the infield dirt, reaching up and tagging Trask as he tried to leap over him en route to third. The play saved a run, perhaps two.

A pair of four-pitch walks and three Winslow errors led to four Gardiner runs and chased Jackson from the mound. Trask took over and his outing started with the Black Raiders’ fourth error of the inning, which loaded the bases. But he proceeded to strike out the side to keep the margin at 7-2.

Trask allowed two hits and four walks while striking out 10 in his six innings. Perhaps more importantly, the Raiders didn’t make any errors behind him after the first batter he faced.

“I was just trying to throw strikes and make our kids make plays, because when our team is making more plays we’re more into the game and it helps us in the long run,” Trask said. “(Catcher) Bobby Chenard called a real good game.”

“He was the key to the game. He was the reason we won the game, as far as I’m concerned,” Wolfe said. “We definitely had to go to him a little sooner than I’d like. He threw strikes, especially that inning he came in. He got out of it, limited the damage and then kind of sailed through the rest of the game.”

After leaving the bases loaded with two out in the third, Berube settled into a nice rhythm of his own, allowing just two hits through five innings and retiring seven out of eight during one stretch. But his and the defense’s early struggles helped push his pitch count over 100 early in the sixth inning and he tired quickly.

The Black Raiders got three straight singles to start the frame. Ben Smith’s single took a tough hop over the shortstop and scored Patrick Hopkins to make it 7-3. After a ground out to second, Hapworth drove in a pair with a single to left. Hapworth stole second then scored on Alex Berard’s base hit to make it 7-6.

McKelvey relieved Berube and got Trask to fly out to right. Jon Nerney followed with a single to center, which center-fielder Logan Peacock played on a hop with his bare hand and fired back into the infield. Eli Fish, the first baseman and cutoff man, whirled and fired a perfect strike home, where catcher Chad Prince applied the tag on Berard to keep it a one-run game.

“I was going to send him no matter what. I had to put the pressure on,” Wolfe said. “They had to make the perfect throw and play and they did. Still down a run, I felt pretty good about our chances coming into the last inning.”

Josh Farrin had two hits for the Tigers. Fish reached base five times — on a single, three walks and an error — and scored twice. Nerney had two hits for the Black Raiders, who had each spot in the lineup reach base at least twice, including seven hits.

“That’s what it’s been all year, one through nine. It’s never been the same guy. We’ve got contributions all the way up and down the lineup, which is nice,” Wolfe said.

Randy Whitehouse 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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