After giving their faithful fans 15 memorable games last year in a newly born rivalry, the lid lifter for the Chico Heat and Lincoln Potters in 2018 did not disappoint.
Trailing the 10-2 going to the bottom of the 3rd and 11-9 going to the bottom of the 9th the Heat rallied for an improbable and thrilling 12-11 win over the Potters in front of a packed house at Nettleton Stadium on Friday night.
Lincoln jumped on the Heat scoring two runs in the 2nd and 8 runs in the third to build the 10-2 lead, but the Heat would chip away four in the 5th and three more in the 6th to cut the deficit to 10-9. After the Potters cashed in a three-base error to start the 7th, the Heat would circle the wagons and deliver another fabulous chapter to this great rivalry.
Heat left-fielder Jordan Parker opened the 9th with a bloop down the left field line. Despite protests from Lincoln that the ball landed foul down the line, the umpire ruled the ball was fair and Parker cruised into 2nd with a double. After a fly out to left, Heat 1st baseman Cade Stephens drew a walk as did Alex Crouch loading the bases with only one out against Potters reliever Josh Ragatz.
With Matt Kimura at the plate and the bases loaded, Ragatz was called for a balk that forced home Parker and moved the tying and winning runs into scoring position and also took away the chance for a game ending double play. Kimura would fly out to deep center and that would bring home pinch runner Tucker Weaver tying the game at 11. The next hitter was UC Riverside product Kai Ho, who had homered earlier in the game, Ho would ground a single into right field bringing home Crouch with the winning run setting off a wild celebration at Nettleton Stadium.
With the win the Heat moved to 8-1 on the season and 6-1 on their current home stand, while the Potters had their four game win streak snapped and they fell to 6-4.
Chico out-hit the Potters 11 to 8 but Chico was quite generous to the Potters issuing 9 walks, hitting 4 Potter batters and throwing three wild pitches, when you throw in the two errors Chico committed the Heat gave the Potters 18 free 90’s in the game. The Potters had a chance to put this game away numerous times but left 12 runners on base, leaving runners at 2nd and 3rd in the 5th, bases loaded in the 6th and runners at 2nd and 3rd in the 9th.
Game two of the series is tonight at The Nett with pre game at 6:45pm and first pitch at 7:05pm