BELLEVILLE — With the season on the line, Southwestern Illinois College freshman Adam Schnurbusch responded Saturday during the NJCAA Region 24 baseball playoffs.
Schnurbusch led off the eighth inning with a solo home run to break a 7-all tie and lift the Blue Storm to an 8-7 win over Olney Central College in their best-of-three first round series.
Seeded sixth in the eight-team Region 24 bracket, Olney Central (29-17) put the host Blue Storm in a hole with an 11-4 drubbing in the first game Saturday.
Sparked by leadoff hitter Yoonjae Nam, Olney Central then built a 3-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings of the second game, before the speed of SWIC sophomore Cameron Lofton and a two-run single by Sean Murley tied the game in the bottom of the third.
Trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh, SWIC tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Mark Hencken, before Schnurbusch won it in the eighth with his homer, which sailed over the left-center field fence.
Blue Storm closer Zack Sparks worked out of a jam in the top of the ninth to pick up the save as third-seeded SWIC (35-17) kept its season alive for at least one more day.
The come-from-behind win forces a decisive third game at SWIC today, beginning at noon. The winner advances to the Region 24 finals, May 8-10 at Rent One Ballpark in Marion.
"It's down to one game. We'll have all of our pitchers ready to go if needed on Sunday,'' Blue Storm coach Neil Fiala said. "I'm proud of my team. We were down 3-0 and they were down by a run on two other occasions in the second game. But we didn't quit.''
Olney Central dominated in the first game battering Blue Storm ace Dustin Dalton for seven runs in just five innings and coasting to its 11-4 win.
Bryce Paxson hit a two-run home run and had three hits while Tyler Ward added a solo home run and drove in three runs. Olney freshman Ryan Dills worked eight innings to pick up the win.
Dalton, who entered the game with a 9-2 record and 2.35 ERA, struggled with his command throughout the game.
"This was probably his worst start of the year,'' Fiala said of Dalton. "He couldn't get his curveball over early and they were sitting on his fast ball.
"We knew about Dills and I was thinking it would be a 0-0 or 1-0 game after six innings. It didn't work out that way."