Ray hits walk-off, Jackets take down Tomcats in 11 innings

From April 6, 2022

A hero came out of the dugout for the Waynesburg University baseball team on Wednesday afternoon.

Senior Cody Ray, who was not even in the starting lineup, hit a walk-off single to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 9-8 win over Thiel College in the bottom of the 11th inning.

“That’s the great thing about baseball, there is no clock,” Waynesburg head coach Perry Cunningham said. “Everybody gets the same amount of outs, and it’s what you do with those outs.”

Things at one point, however, were looking bleak for Waynesburg.

A sacrifice fly by senior catcher Tyler Woodrow and a groundout by freshman right fielder Aidan Williams gave the Yellow Jackets a 2-0 lead in the first inning. 

Graduate student Brandon Durbin’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third made it 3-0. 

Thiel knotted the game up at 3-3 in the top of the fifth when junior designated hitter Nick Guarnieri hit an RBI double to left-center.

Then the seventh inning happened.

The Tomcat bats exploded, scoring five runs in the top half of the inning to make the score 8-3.  

The bottom half of the inning, however, gave Waynesburg the opportunity to chip away at the lead. 

“The message is one run at a time,” Cunningham said. “Let’s not worry about scoring five this inning. Let’s score two or three this inning, and then we can make the gap a little more attainable.” 

After scoring three runs and holding the Tomcats scoreless for the next two innings, the Yellow Jackets found themselves down 8-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth. 

With Ray on first and freshman Alec Engelmore on second with one out, sophomore third baseman Mike Bell dropped a two-RBI triple into deep right field to tie the game.

“That’s just the big theme for us this year is to battle back,” Engelmore said. “No matter how much we’re down, [we] keep on fighting.”

The Tomcats squeaked out of the ninth to force extra innings. 

Fast forward to the bottom of the eleventh.

“I knew Aidan [Williams] was going to get on [second], I knew we were going to move him over [to third] with Alec [Engelmore], and I knew it was going to be me who had to get the big hit,” Ray said. 

And the rest is history. 

Ray delivered an RBI single to score Wiliams to secure the comeback victory. 

“That’s what we expect,” Cunningham said. “I always expect our players are going to put the magic into the game.”

Engelmore was credited with the win after pitching 4.2 innings, giving up four hits and no earned runs between innings seven through 11. 

The Yellow Jackets were also errorless in the contest. 

A tough task, however, is up next on the schedule for Waynesburg. 

The Yellow Jackets have two home games on Saturday and one away game on Sunday against the conference-leading Washington and Jefferson Presidents. 

The first pitch on Saturday is at 1 p.m.