For the Freeman Blacksox and their fans, it was an eighth inning they will never forget. Trailing Irene 7-2 with a trip to the state tournament on the line, the local amateur team sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven runs to take a 9-7 lead over the Cardinals, before hanging on to claim a 10-8 lead.
The Thursday night, Aug. 1 win capped a memorable district tournament for the Blacksox, who came in as the No. 8 seed only to knock off No. 1 Crofton in the opening round on Thursday, July 25, nearly upset No. 5 Menno in the semifinals (they lost 5-4 in 11 innings) five nights later before taking down Irene on Thursday.
The state tournament starts Wednesday, Aug. 7, at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.
Freeman actually trailed Irene 7-1, but made it 7-2 in the seventh on a Jake Weier double that scored Lee Scherschligt. Then came the eighth inning, which included a little bit of everything. Nathan Weier and Jared McVay both walked and Mitch Wollmann reached on an Irene error to load the bases. A Lee Scherschligt single and another walk — this one to Brett Scherschligt — made it 7-4 and a Lance Friesen grand slam gave Freeman an 8-7 lead.
The Blacksox tacked on one more in the eighth to make it 9-7.
Irene got one back in the bottom of the eighth, but Freeman added a bit of insurance in their final at bat in the ninth when a Brett Scherschligt single scored Lee Scherschligt to make it 10-8.
Freeman held Irene scoreless in the bottom of the ninth to take the win and finish third in the district.
The Blacksox won just three games during the regular season.