Two rain delays and eight hours later, the Everett Merchants were full but ultimately unsatisfied.
Their National Baseball Congress World Series semifinal game against Hays was tied in the top of the eighth inning. Everett had momentum thanks to a four-run comeback, but they were itching to finish the job.
Everett scored in the top of the ninth and escaped trouble in the bottom half for a 10-9 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Ty Holm drove in Colton McCluskey with the winning run, as McCluskey scored from first on a single to the gap in right-center.
Everett will play for the championship at 7 p.m. Sunday against the winner of the Kansas Stars-Cheney Diamond Dawgs game that began shortly before midnight Saturday.
The Merchants endured a three-and-a-half hour rain delay before play resumed in the eighth inning, and an hour delay halted the game in the middle of the fourth.
“Tried to stretch, stay loose,” Holm said. “Then you hear it’s going to be an hour delay, so we went into the cage and played card games. We got pizza about an hour before we had to play, we were all hungry. We just chilled out. It was good to be on top of that after a long day.”
Everett scored five runs in the top of the third before Hays rallied with six in the bottom of the inning. After the first delay, Hays scored three more runs to go ahead 9-5. Everett chipped at the lead before tying it in the eighth with two outs.
A two-out rally came again in the ninth when McCluskey reached on a single. He was attempting to steal -- or get a head-start -- on a pitch that Holm lined to right-center. McCluskey was past second when the ball was fielded and sent home by Everett’s third-base coach.
McCluskey scored without a throw home.
Everett, which won the title in 1988, kept Hays from winning its first championship. Hays has finished second five times, including last year. Everett has won three straight games since losing 10-1 to the Kansas Stars on ESPN2 on Monday.
“That Stars game, some guys are playing against their role models,” Holm said. “We look up to those guys. You could tell we went into the game with big eyes like that, not really focusing so much on each pitch, but just being in the moment. It came back to bite us, but we’re lucky to still be around.”