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Darkness rule vexes Palo Verde

It’s not often that the team with more runs on the scoreboard when the game finishes gets the loss.

But that’s what happened to Palo Verde’s baseball team on Friday.

The Panthers rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take an 8-6 lead, but the umpire called the game because of darkness after the last run scored. Because host Spring Valley didn’t get its final turn at bat, the game reverted to the last completed inning, with the Grizzlies winning, 6-5.

“It’s kind of sad to see it end in that fashion when you’ve got two teams battling,” Palo Verde coach Paul Churchfield said. “The team that lost had more runs on the scoreboard. What are the odds of that?”

Matt Hutchings led off the seventh with an infield single, and Dylan Dunseath hit what would have been his first varsity home run to make it 7-6.

Brooks Nelson singled up the middle and stole second. The throw from the catcher went into center field, and the Palo Verde coaches waved Nelson all the way around, hoping to run into an out as much as anything. But the throw to the plate short-hopped the catcher, and Nelson scored before the umpire called the game, saying there was no way the teams would be able to record six outs before it was too dark to play safely.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever had where we were running down telling kids ‘strike out, strike out,’ ” Churchfield said. “It’s not like you practice that situation. We were flying from the seat of our pants trying to get it done.”

Spring Valley ended up in a similar situation on Thursday, though that game was called before the seventh inning started with Liberty leading, 10-8.

“We were on the other side of it yesterday,” Grizzlies coach Paul Bassett said. “We were down 9-0 and came back. They called it after six, and we didn’t get a chance to hit in the seventh.”

Hutchings and Nelson each had a solo home run in the second inning to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead.

But the Grizzlies rallied for four runs in the third on four hits and a key error to retake the lead. Dylan Drachler, who hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first, had an RBI single in the third.

Drachler was 2-for-2 with two RBIs, and Jacob Schwartz and Eddie Gomez each went 2-for-3 with a double for Spring Valley.

Nelson and Jordan Benson each went 2-for-3 for Palo Verde.

“Maybe we should think about doing something different with start times so stuff like this doesn’t happen,” Churchfield said.

Palo Verde fell behind 4-0 on Thursday before rallying for a 5-4 victory over Bonanza. Churchfield said the two comebacks were promising, even if Friday’s didn’t count.

“Last year when we got down and something bad happened, you could call it a day, pack up the tents and go home,” Churchfield said. “And these kids two days in a row battled back. So that’s a positive sign.”

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