BUFFALO, W.Va. - Despite a mountain of fundamental foibles, Buffalo somehow still managed to win.
Dakota Briscoe laced a bases-loaded single to left field with none out in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday, giving the Bison a 5-4 comeback victory against St. Joseph in the opening game of Class A Region 4 Section 4.
Buffalo (11-12), which blistered the Irish 25-2 in their only regular-season meeting on April 30, was held hitless through four innings and never led Tuesday until Briscoe's walk-off single that scored Levi Jordan.
"We all thought we were going to lose,'' said Briscoe, a senior designated hitter. "Coach [Jimmy] Tribble kept telling us we've got to battle. He told us they came to play their best game, and we didn't, and we were going to have to battle back to win one - and in the last couple of innings, that's what we did.''
St. Joseph (11-10) led 3-0 after the top of the fifth and was still up 4-2 when Buffalo came to bat in the bottom of the seventh.
An infield error and a single helped put Bison runners at second and third with one out, and pinch-runner Beau Whittington scored on Brian Buntura's sacrifice fly to center. Blaik Caplinger was nearly thrown out moving from second to third on the play, which would have ended the game. Nick Gunter followed with a grounder to third that resulted in an error, tying the game and forcing extra innings.
After reliever Aaron Lewis retired the Irish 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth - all by strikeout - Jordan led off Buffalo's half of the inning reaching on another infield error. He took second on a walk and third on a fielder's choice, setting the stage for Briscoe's game-winner.
"It shows that even when we're down, we can come back and win a game when we need to,'' Briscoe said. "Hopefully we can come back [Thursday] and do it again.''
St. Joseph plays sectional favorite Charleston Catholic (21-9) at 6 p.m. today at Buffalo. The sectional was moved to Buffalo's all-turf field from Triana Field, which was still soggy from recent rains.
Irish starter Torin Walters allowed only two earned runs in going the distance and gave up six hits after tossing four innings of no-hit ball. Paul Dransfeld had an RBI single and Trace Adkins drove in another run on a squeeze play for St. Joseph.
"I'm really happy with the effort we gave tonight,'' said St. Joe coach Dave Jenkins. "Nobody likes to lose, but I'll take a 5-4 loss like that and the effort we put out any day of the week. A little play here or there and it'd been a different outcome.
"They beat us pretty good on their senior night a week or so ago and we told our kids before the game that they might be coming in a little overconfident - thinking they'd walked over these guys last week, it'll be another cakewalk. We were missing a few of our kids [in the earlier game] and I thought that may be the difference right there. I knew if we had all our guys here, we could play with them.''