RED LION -- Windsor manager Nate Neff, who has earned the nickname 'The General,' certainly had to feel like he lived up to that moniker Thursday night.
In a battle of the top two teams in the Susquehanna League, Neff's Cardinals were a little shorthanded against home-standing Red Lion. Things got even dicier for the Windsor skipper after a poor first-inning in which Red Lion batted around against starter Roy Walker.
Neff, however, made all the right calls at the right times on a night when he was forced to start 53-year-old Jay Persing at second base. Neff brought in Shawn Wilson to shut down a Red Lion rally in the first and then summoned lefty Matt Robinson in the fifth.
With big hits from Chris Liggitt (three-run home run) and Chris Stoudt (RBI single), Neff and his team left Nitchkey Field in the same place it started -- even in the standings with Red Lion. The contest was suspended after eight innings with the score knotted at 5-5. The game will be resumed at a time to be determined.
"I was just sort of glad to be hanging around," said Neff. "You put guys in there like Robinson and Wilson and this was our third game this week. We were just hoping to hang around there."
Red Lion looked to be in prime position to take over sole possession of first against Walker, who struggled mightily with his control. The Windsor right-hander walked the first three batters he faced. After getting a couple of outs, he yielded back-to-back singles, hit a batter and then issued another walk.
That forced Neff to yank Walker, who left his team in a 4-0 hole. Wilson got out of the bases-loaded jam to end the inning and he and the Cardinal bullpen held Red Lion to just one run over the final seven innings.
Starter Austin Hinkle looked to be in control through three innings, but the visitors rallied in the fourth with some help from the hosts. An error and a missed double-play allowed Liggitt to come to the plate with two on and two out. The Windsor center fielder, who struck out in his first at-bat against Hinkle, got a fastball and yanked it out over the left-field wall to even the contest at 4-4.
"Chris can hit," Neff said. "When he puts the bat on the ball, it can go. Now he's got to cut down on his strikeouts some, but he's playing regularly and he's working on things and getting better. In years past, he was playing, but maybe not all the time. This year, he's the guy there in center field."
Stoudt delivers with bat: After Red Lion took the lead back in the bottom of the fourth, Stoudt came up with a big hit in the sixth. With Rick Thompson on first after a walk, Hinkle threw a wild pitch that moved Thompson to second. A few pitches later Stoudt made that hurt with a bloop single over the second baseman's head to score Thompson.
Right after Red Lion was retired in the eighth, the contest was suspended due to darkness. While there was still some light, neither manager felt bad about that decision. Red Lion manager Jim Dennes only had 11 players in uniform, while Neff was in a similar predicament.
Neff pointed to Robinson's effort on the mound -- 32/3 scoreless innings, one hit -- as a big lift for his club. According to Neff, it was only the second time in the past two years that Robinson was summoned to pitch in a contest for the Cardinals.
"Just the second time in two years," Neff said. "It's great to have veteran guys like that."
Dennes could say the same thing as his core group continues to help lead his club -- a perennial league contender -- atop the standings once again this year. The veteran skipper, though, would like to see more of that group with him at games, something he's been clamoring for all year.
"That's been the story of our year," Dennes said. "We don't have many reserves and that's how we have to play it."
Hinkle pitched seven innings and yielded six hits before Jason Enoch retired the side in order in the eighth inning for Red Lion. The home team finished with eight hits, two apiece from the trio of Shaun Corso, Joe Doyle and Daryl Harang.
Liggitt finished 2-for-3 for Windsor, while Thompson walked twice and scored a pair of runs.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAMES
CONRADS 15, STEWARTSTOWN 5: At Stewartstown, Conrads broke open a one-run game by exploding for nine runs in the top of the fifth inning. Anthony Ferrell delivered two hits and two RBIs for the New Bridgeville team, and Brandon Miller drove in two runs. Dave Loban went two for three with two RBIs for Stewartstown. Randy Stewart, who came on in relief for Conrads with two outs in the bottom of the third, earned the victory. Stewart didn't allow any runs and just one hit in 31/3 innings. He also recorded three strikeouts without walking a single batter.
COLUMBIA 10, YORK TOWNSHIP 7: At Columbia, the home team took charge of the game by scoring five runs in the bottom of the third inning to erase a 2-1 deficit. Columbia's Tanner Kennedy drove in four runs with a three-run home run and a sacrifice fly. He also had a double. Zach Buterbaugh added two hits, including a home run, for the winners. York Township's Morgan Markey went three for four (double and two singles) and batted across two runs. Mark Shoff and Austin Calaman cracked back-to-back home runs for the York Countians in the top of the fifth.
HALLAM 11, JACOBUS 3: At Jacobus, Joe Pietrobone led the visitors to the victory by going 2-3, including a three-run homer in the seventh, a double, and collected five RBIs. Teammates Justin Seitz went 2-4, including two RBIs, Mackey Miller went 3-4, including a double, Jon Benchich went 3-5 with one RBI, Jaron Shimmel went 2-5, with a double and one RBI, while Jason Seitz hit a two-run homer in the first inning. Hallam pitcher Travis Stump picked up the complete game victory while striking out three and walking three. It was Stump's 100th career Susquehanna League victory. For Jacobus, Mike Austin went 2-4, including a solo homer in the sixth, while teammate starting pitcher Matt Ruth pitched four innings while striking out six and walking three.
FELTON 3, EAST PROSPECT 2: At Felton, Cory Waltersdorff broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth when he homered to give the home team the lead for good. Waltersdorff also hit an RBI single, giving him two RBIs for the night. Teammates Ezekiel Ottermiller went 2-3, including an RBI, while starting pitcher Barak Gohn picked up the complete game victory while striking out six and walking just two. For East Prospect, Michael Locondro pitched a complete game while striking out six and walking three.
-- Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.