Kurt Gens pitched the typical gem he’s accustomed this season until the final inning of Friday’s tilt with conference foe Ave Maria.
One miscue over the plate gave Gyrenes right fielder Hunter McCarthy all the juice he needed to slam a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth.
Thomas catcher Andrew Crane yanked the Night Hawks out of what would’ve been a head-scratching loss with an RBI single in the 11th to secure the win.
“I’m not particularly thrilled,” Thomas coach Mike Lee said of playing extra innings a day before Saturday’s doubleheader. “The good thing is, we get to go home and sleep in our own beds. We get to get up in the morning and be a little bit more comfortable.
Thomas notched 16 hits on Friday but manifested just four runs. Ironically, all four were scored with two outs.
“We’re not making them work enough,” Lee said of Ave Maria. “It’s one thing to hit and put pressure on them, but sooner or later, you’ve got to score runs.”
Lee was forced to send relief ace John Gainey, tomorrow’s Game 2 starter, in to follow Gens, which could shuffle pitching plans in a pivotal showdown on Saturday.
“It’s one of those things. I could’ve gone to Gainey straight out of the [bullpen] and we could’ve proabably won it in nine and been a little bit better off. As it is, we had to use him for 3 innings, so I’m not sure what we’ll get out of him tomorrow, if anything at all.”
Errors nearly plagued the Night Hawks again on Friday, as Thomas accounted for five. Lee said, from that standpoint, the Night Hawks stole one from the Gyrenes.
“The defensive has been good but its been spotty. That’s what we’ve been struggling with. We can be doing a bit better,” he said.
Saturday’s doubleheader begins from Varnedoe Stadium at noon.