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AKRON -- Field was in total control throughout the first six innings of Wednesday's Division II Akron District semifinal game against Northwest at Canal Park in downtown Akron.
Then, the seventh inning showed up.
The Indians, who trailed 5-1 going into the final frame, rallied to score four runs in the top of the seventh, tying the game at 5 and sending it to extras. Two innings later, Northwest sealed the deal, posting a three-run ninth -- two coming off a Falcons fielding error -- en route to a wild 8-5 upset win over the top-seeded Falcons, who finished ranked No. 3 in Division II by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association.
The victory sends the fifth-seeded Indians to Thursday's 2 p.m. district-championship game, while Field, which entered the contest a perfect 22-0, took its first loss of the season after a shocking series of unfortunate events.
"These boys have played with heart for two years now," Northwest coach Dave Maculaitis said after the game. "There have been a lot of ups and downs, but we've been in a bunch of extra-inning games this year. So, when this one got into extras, they just looked at each other and said, 'Hey, we've been here before.'"
Northwest's four-run seventh was all put together with two outs. First, Chris Barbitta extended the game with an RBI single to bring the Indians (13-11) to within three of the lead, before back-to-back walks brought home another run to make it 5-3.
Then, Northwest's David Dawson clocked a two-run single, tying the game and sending the Northwest dugout into a frenzy. The Indians even had a shot to take a seventh-inning lead, but Bryce Munson was tagged out at the plate for the third out of the frame.
Still, the damage had been done to Field's bullpen, which took over three batters into the seventh in favor of starting pitcher Trevor Lewis. In all, the Indians registered five of their nine total hits during the momentum-swinging seventh.
"We didn't execute pitching wise down the stretch," Field coach Joe Peterson said. "Our bullpen didn't make enough quality pitches."
Northwest took the lead in the top of the ninth on a two-out Field fielding error. Munson and Dawson both hit home when a groundball off the bat of Jared Szekely was misplayed, causing the inning to continue.
The Indians scored a third run in the inning on a passed ball.
"We were going to send them no matter what," Maculaitis said of the pivotal ninth-inning error. "I could tell it was going to be a tough play, and we just had to keep the pressure on them."
With a three-run cushion, despite not registering any hits in the ninth, Northwest slammed the door behind the pitching of reliever Cory Burroughs. The long-haired left-hander pitched five big innings out of the bullpen, striking out five without allowing a single hit and earning the eventual win.
"We tried Cory in relief (for the first time) the other night and he struck the side out," Maculaitis said. "We looked at each other and said that if we got that opportunity again, then we'd go with him."
Field (22-1) scored the first five runs of the game, including tallying a pair of runs in both the second and third innings. It began in the second when Nate Rorrer slapped down a bunt single, scoring the first run of the contest. The Falcon second baseman came around to score on a Northwest throwing error moments later to make it 2-0.
In the third, Landon Contant and George Long hit back-to-back triples to begin the bottom half of inning for the Falcons, which led to a sacrifice fly by Dom Smith, giving Field a 4-0 edge.
Field's Russell Shaffer tacked on another run in the fourth on an RBI single.
Down, but not out, Northwest pieced some hitting together before finally breaking through with its first run in the top of the sixth. Lewis, who finished with a no decision, was largely effective on the mound for the Falcons. He allowed just two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The loss ends what has been one of the best seasons in program history for Field.
Field, though, stranded 10 total runners in the loss -- eight in the first four innings -- and didn't register a single hit from the fifth inning on.
"A lot of things have gone our way this year," Peterson said. "Our kids have battled and they believed that they could win. Sometimes baseball can be a funny game and it just didn't work out for us."