LINCOLN — Brayden Miller’s home run to left field in the top of the 11th inning was the difference as Kearney outlasted Grand Island 12-11 in 11 innings in the fifth-place game of the Heartland Athletic Conference Tournament fifth-place game Friday at Den Hartog Field.
The loss in a 4-hour, 10-minute marathon capped off a wild day for the Islanders, who split a pair of 12-11 games.
Against the Bearcats, Grand Island trailed 10-2 in the middle of the third but battled back thanks mainly to a five-run fifth inning.
“We got behind 10-2 against a very, very good team and came roaring back,” G.I. coach Joe Wells said. “We had two or three chances in our last at-bats to win the game and didn’t get it done.
“But I’m proud of the way we fought today. We’re making it tough to get us out 21 times.”
Earlier in the day, Blake Leiting drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh to give Grand Island a 12-11 win against Lincoln Pius X in a consolation semifinal.
That capped off a comeback from a 6-1 deficit in the middle of the third inning.
Cole Evans went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and a run to lead the Islanders at the plate. Caleb Coslor was 2 for 4 for two runs and two RBIs while Leiting finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run.
Rans Sanders earned the win in relief. He allowed three runs on three hits over two innings. Starter Javier Cruz allowed eight runs (four earned) on eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks in five innings.
The teams combined for 22 hits with 11 of them going for extra bases.
Lincoln Pius 303 101 3—11 11 1
Grand Island 107 030 1—12 11 3
WP—Sanders. LP—Finder. 2B—LP, Punteney, Sehnert, Bauer 2, Finder; GI, Leiting 2, Halsey. 3B—GI, Coslor, Evans. HR—LP, Moore.
Kearney (9-3) 109 100 000 01—12 20 3
Grand Island (8-5) 022 050 200 00—11 12 5
WP—Welker. LP—Kissack. 2B—K, Worley 2, Heins; GI, Sanders. 3B—GI, Coslor. HR—K, Miller.