PASADENA — For 6 2/3 innings, the script seemed oh so perfect for the Flintridge Prep baseball team.
The Rebels, who only two days earlier were embarrassed by Prep League rival Pasadena Poly, were ahead by two runs at the home of their archrival despite having already blown an early four-run lead and being down to only nine players.
Yet, a tale of redemption for Flintridge Prep instead flipped into a storybook ending for the Panthers, who celebrated wildly after senior third baseman Michael Bowman whacked an offering in the bottom of the seventh off the roof of Babcock Gymnasium for a three-run homer that delivered Poly a frantic come-from-behind 10-9 victory Thursday afternoon.
“We can’t do anything with a short porch here,” Rebels Coach Guillermo Gonzalez said. “We just go with it and live to fight another day, that’s the way we see it. It’s a real tough loss because now it put us in a hole in league.”
Gonzalez challenged his defending tri-league champion Rebels (6-5-1, 2-2) in the aftermath of an error-plagued 9-1 defeat to the Panthers (7-5, 4-0) at the Glendale Sports Complex on Tuesday.
Flintridge Prep, which was missing several players to other commitments, started the day with a 10-man roster that was reduced to nine after an inning and a half because of an ejection of one player due to an argument with the home plate umpire.
Despite that issue, the Rebels led, 9-6, heading into the bottom of the seventh with starting pitcher Daniel Enzminger nearing the conclusion of a Herculean effort.
The 5-foot-11 hurler tossed 144 pitches on Thursday, with his last few stinging him as Poly’s Bing Banta, Kyle Beerman and Griffin Carter all singled to lead off the seventh, which loaded the bases with no outs.
Enzminger was reluctantly pulled in favor of reliever Robbie Leslie, who induced a run-scoring flyout to center field that preceded a Poly baserunner being thrown out trying to steal second base.
“I would have thrown 100 more pitches if I had to do, I would have done whatever for the win,” Enzminger said. “Coach made the right call. I was tired and my legs were like jello. I just wished we could have closed out the win.”
Down to its last out, Poly responded with some heroics.
“I knew I had to just crowd the plate a little bit and see if I could take one,” Bowman said. “Then he gave me a fastball down the middle and I was like, ‘If I see that again, I’ll jump on it.’ I got it.”
Momentum seemed in the Panthers’ favor when Poly plated three runs in the fifth, one coming off a solo shot from David Orndorff, to jump ahead for the first time, 6-5, and simultaneously erase a one-time 5-1 deficit.
To their credit, the Rebels showed moxie a half inning later in responding with four runs, two of which came on a one-out two-run triple from sophomore Richard Pan, who scored one pitch later on a run-scoring single from Hamilton Evans.
“Honestly, I took it upon myself [to get the hit] because I’ve [messed] up a lot this year,” said Pan, who was perhaps most upset after Tuesday’s defeat. “I was 0-2 in the hole, I took a deep breath and I dug deep.”
The four-run inning gave the Rebels a 9-6 advantage.
Flintridge Prep scored two runs in the first inning on a run-scoring single from Michael Weinstein (three for three with a double, two RBI and a run) and a steal of home from Evans (two runs).
While Poly scored a run in the bottom of the first, the Rebels plated three in the third thanks a run-scoring single from Brendan McKiernan and two Panthers throwing errors to go up, 5-1.
Poly scored two runs in the bottom of the third on a homer from Zack Bern.
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.