ALBANY -- This time, it was Deerfield-Windsor that struck back, rallying from a multi-run deficit to win its series against rival Southland Academy.
The Knights, who blew a 4-0 lead and lost their first game against the Raiders earlier this season, charged from a three-run deficit Friday for a 5-3 victory. The win not only exacted a measure of revenge, it also put the Knights (4-1 in 3-AAA) back in region title contention.
Both teams are now tied for first with one region loss, and if nothing changes at regular season's end, an extra game will be played at a neutral site to determine the 3-AAA champion.
"That was a huge game," winning pitcher Chris Moates said. "If we had lost, we would probably have lost the region title. We responded (Friday) as well as we could."
Deerfield is 11-3 overall, while Southland is 8-4, 4-1.
Deerfield coach Rod Murray was concerned coming into the game after his team's 6-4 loss to Southland on March 23. Not only did the Raiders rally to win, Knights outfielders Michael Laslie and Davis Moore collided while chasing a fly ball during Southland's big inning.
On Friday, the potential for disaster reappeared with Deerfield leading, 5-3, in the top of the seventh. Raiders shortstop Philip Greene's fly ball Friday, however, ended in an over-the-shoulder catch by Moore.
"(Laslie) and me were 10 feet apart and he just said, 'TAKE IT, TAKE IT,' " Moore recalled. "And I did."
Two batters later, Moates struck Alan Maples out to end the game. Moates, who went the distance, throwing 97 pitches and striking out five, also delivered one of Friday's biggest moments at the plate: a two-run homer that tied the game, 3-3, in the third.
"Chris was hitting some great spots from the mound," Murray said. "It was a very solid outing by him, and it could not have happened at a better time."
First-year Southland coach Tim Goodin, meanwhile, knows there is still plenty for his team to play for.
"They have a good team over there and we do, too," Goodin said. "We'll just keep playing hard and see how it ends up."