BAXTER -- The score was tight Monday as the Moose Lodge Orioles and the Pepsi Red Sox squared off in Baxter Bronco League play. So close, in fact, that a winner was unable to pull ahead by the end of six innings, resulting in a 4-4 tie.
The Red Sox were ahead the entire game until the top of the sixth inning, when the Orioles staged a mini-comeback to make up their one-run deficit and tie the game at four.
Tommy Olson started on the mound for the Red Sox, pitching four innings and striking out five. He shut out the Orioles in the first two innings before giving up two runs in the third and one in the fourth.
The Red Sox offense started quickly in the bottom of the first inning with the first four runners reaching base. The Orioles defense, particularly catcher Aaron Niklaus, kept the Red Sox from scoring more than one run in the inning.
Niklaus threw out Sox leadoff hitter Nik Helland in his attempt to steal second base with a strong throw from behind the plate.
The next three batters reached base on two singles and a walk before the Red Sox's lone run of the inning was batted in on a fielder's choice from Olson.
The Orioles finally got some offense started in the third inning with a two-out rally. Jackson Dols reached first on a single after Olson struck out the first two Oriole batters.
Drew Mitchell brought him in with an RBI triple. Mitchell scored the second two-out run on a passed ball to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead before Olson escaped the inning by forcing a groundout.
The Red Sox regained the lead with a three run third inning. Dols got into trouble quickly, loading the bases with only one out. Orioles head coach Joe Niklaus decided it was time for a pitching change.
Aaron Niklaus took the mound and struck out the first Red Sox batter before running into a snag.
Olson and Jeff Fieblkorn hit back-to-back run singles to score three runs. All three runs were charged to Dols and the Sox regained a 4-2 lead.
Niklaus settled down after the third inning and kept the Red Sox at bay, allowing the Orioles to piece together runs and eventually tie the game. He pitched the remainder of the game, striking out eight Red Sox while allowing no more runs.
The Orioles cut the lead to one in the top of the fourth inning with a solo performance from Niklaus.
He led off the inning with a double and stole third base. A Tommy Olson passed ball allowed Niklaus to cross the plate and score the third run of the ballgame.
The score remained 4-3 until the sixth and final inning when the Orioles finished their comeback.
Mitchell and Eric Titus led off the inning with singles to put two Orioles on base with no outs. Passed balls from Winkler advanced the runners and allowed Mitchell to cross the plate and tie the game at 4.
Nik Helland replaced Winkler on the mound to finish the inning for the Red Sox.
T.J. Perpich gave the Red Sox defense a huge boost with a web gem at first-base. Niklaus lined a Helland pitch hard down the first base line but Perpich reached out and skillfully snagged the ball before hurling it to second base to double up the runner.
Helland then forced a groundout to end the Orioles' bid for the win.
Niklaus denied the Red Sox a victory by retiring three batters in a row, including two strikeouts, to preserve the 4-4 tie.
"We were two well-matched teams," Orioles coach Joe Niklaus said. "We beat them 8-5 earlier in the year and we had to battle back in this one to come out with the tie."
Orioles 4 7 0
Red Sox 4 9 0
2B -- Sox-Tommy Olson, Arron Holman; Orioles-Aaron Niklaus. 3B -- Orioles-Drew Mitchell.
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