The opportunities were dwindling. And that was without the dark clouds looming in the distance.
Every chance the Central DeWitt and Independence baseball teams had to strike during the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, they needed to take advantage of it.
It made for a back-and-forth struggle between the two squads in front of the backdrop of approaching storms.
The Sabers and Mustangs traded the lead three times with that final change — courtesy of a two-run sixth inning for Central DeWitt — being the difference, as Mother Nature finally took over, bringing an end to the Sabers’ 8-7 victory in the sixth and wiping away the second game entirely.
The first inning set the tone as Independence staked itself to a 2-0 lead only to see the hosts answer with three runs in the bottom of the frame.
The Sabers turned a couple of Mustang miscues — Tyson Dunne was hit by a pitch, while Jacob Maher reached on an error — into a 2-2 tie on a two-run double by Kyle Bixby before Drew McAvan put them in front with a single to bring in Bixby.
Central DeWitt added to its lead an inning later. Wyatt Penniston opened the frame with a double and then was replaced on second by Noah Thein, who drove him in with his own double.
A fly-out advanced Thein’s courtesy runner, Caden Ridgley, to third and the senior made it 5-2 when he scored on a wild pitch.
The Mustangs, though, countered with a pair of runs in the third inning and then two more in the fourth to jump back in front.
The lead lasted just an inning as Maher opened the bottom of the fifth with a walk and then advanced to third on a double by Bixby before tying things up at six on a groundout by Mitch Maher.
Independence broke that tie with a run in the top of the sixth, but Central DeWitt had an even-better answer in the bottom of the inning.
Sam Bloom kicked things off by reaching on an error and then was sacrificed over to second by Penniston. He scored moments later as Thein drilled the second pitch he faced for a game-tying triple.
The Mustangs got a second out, but J. Maher followed it with a double to bring in Thein. Bixby added a walk, which turned out to be the final play of the game as play was stopped in the middle of the next at-bat.
Thein and Bixby both had two hits — all of them went for extra bases: three doubles and one triple — and combined for four RBIs. J. Maher, meanwhile, scored twice.
Bloom got the final out of the sixth inning, which gave him the win in relief. Sophomore Brady Freeman made the start, spreading out eight Independence hits and striking out three batters.
The victory came between a pair of MAC doubleheaders.
The Sabers dropped both contests with North Scott on Monday.
A pair of three-run innings spurred the Lancers to a 7-3 win in the opener and the hosts carried that momentum into the nightcap where they grabbed a 10-0 win.
After plating a run in the third — J. Maher slugged a two-out double to score Thein — the Sabers threatened again in the sixth, loading the bases with no outs on consecutive singles by Bixby, M. Maher and McAvan.
A one-out fielder’s choice by Ridgley drove in Bixby and the Sabers added a second run when Dane Egesdal reached safely on an error, but the Lancers skirted further damage.
M. Maher and McAvan both went 3-for-3, while Thein added two hits.
The Sabers had six hits in the second game, but could not turn them into runs.
Thein again had a pair of hits, while M. Maher, Paul Kuehn, Bloom and Tyler Herington added individual hits.
A day after its win over Independence, Central DeWitt was back on its home field for a high-scoring conference twin bill with Davenport Central.
The Sabers and Blue Devils combined for 30 runs on 28 hits in the opener, but the hosts were never able to recover from a nine-run first inning from the visitors in an 18-12 setback.
Central DeWitt finished with 13 hits with only four of them being singles. Each of the first five batters — Thein, Dunne, J. Maher, Bixby and M. Maher — in the team’s lineup hit at least one double (Thein hit two) with Dunne and J. Maher adding triples as well and J. Maher capping off a big opener with a home run.
Thein joined Maher with three hits and Dunne both drove in four runs and scored four runs himself.
The two teams kept hitting early in the nightcap, combining for seven runs in the first two innings before things cooled down.
The Blue Devils broke a 4-4 tie in the sixth inning, but the Sabers plated four runs in the bottom of the frame to earn the split with an 8-5 win.
J. Maher had the key hit with a two-run single and then scored a third run on a Bixby triple.
Bixby finished with a team-high three hits, while Dunne socked a pair of doubles and joined both Mahers with two RBIs. J. Maher picked up the win in relief and teamed with Bixby, who made the start, for nine strikeouts.
The Sabers closed their week by splitting a pair of games at Saturday’s Terry Curtis Classic.
Central DeWitt dropped a low-scoring 2-0 decision to the event’s host, Williamsburg, but then rebounded to rout Burlington Notre Dame, 11-1.
It was just a 2-1 game when the Sabers broke things open against the Nikes with six runs in the fourth inning.
The first six batters each collected hits in the frame before Notre Dame got its first out on a sacrifice fly. But even that was followed with a seventh hit.
The Sabers added three more runs in the fifth inning to end things early.
Thein, J. Maher and Bixby all had two hits. One of Maher’s hits was a home run and the sophomore both drove in and scored three runs. M. Maher also drove in three runs, while Bixby, Ridgley and Bloom each scored twice.
Logan White and Egesdal combined to allow six Nike hits, while striking out three batters.
The Sabers were limited to just three hits against the Raiders: singles by Thein, M. Maher and McAvan.
Thein kept Williamsburg at bay, too, allowing individual runs in the third and fifth innings, while fanning nine.