JACOBUS — If you asked Jacobus manager Jed Larkin, Riley Hamberger probably should have gotten more at-bats during the high school season.
So the Jackals' skipper has made it a point of emphasis to make good use of his Dallastown High School third baseman whenever possible.
That philosophy paid off big time for Larkin on Monday afternoon when Jacobus played host to Susquehanna League-leading Conrads.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and his team down by two, Hamberger crushed the 143rd and final pitch of the day from Conrads' starter Brandon Miller over the left-field fence for a game-winning grand slam.
The Jackals' 9-7 victory made for a memorable Memorial Day. Hamberger's team became the first to knock off Conrads (7-1) this season.
"It felt amazing," said Hamberger, who also collected a double for a two-hit game. "I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it."
Hamberger's slam came just a few pitches after he pulled another Miller offering just to the left of the foul pole.
"He was throwing me fastballs that whole at-bat," Hamberger said. "That one, I hit it well, but was just a little bit ahead of it. I thought I missed my chance there."
Given a second chance, Hamberger made the most of it.
"He's been a whale of a ball player for us," Larkin said. "He didn't get many at-bats during the high school season. He played for us a little bit here and there and he really needs to be in the lineup. He has that power, as he demonstrated, but he hits for average, too. And I try to get him his at-bats and as much playing time as possible, especially considering the lack of high school playing time."
The come-from-behind victory seemed highly improbable after Conrads put up a five-spot in the top of the fifth off Jacobus starter Mike Crowe. A two-run double by Miller and a two-run single by Kevin Keesey highlighted the inning, which saw the visitors, who were down 2-0 early, jump out to a 6-2 advantage.
The home team rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to make it 6-4, but things seemed bleak after Conrads shortstop Travis Hake crushed a solo homer in the top of the seventh to extend the lead to 7-4.
After Miller retired Larkin to start the bottom of the seventh, momentum seemed to change after catcher Mike Austin rocketed a single off Miller's arm. Austin moved to second after Miller's throw to first sailed wildly.
Miller got Drew Kelley to fly out to center for the second out, but couldn't get out of the inning. Three straight singles by Joe Doyle, Kyle Saxman and Eric Hamberger set the stage for the 16 year-old.
"(Miller) got himself in trouble there and had to throw a fastball there," Conrads manager Chad Kennell. "He kept having to throw fastballs there and the kid hit one out of here with it. He (Hamberger) was on the ball today."
Saxman finished with two hits for Jacobus (5-2), which cracked 10 hits off Miller for the contest. Hake was the only Conrads player to collect two hits.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAMES
Hallam 8, Red Lion 1: At Hallam, the home team erupted for seven runs in the first two innings to grab the win. The three-run first was helped by five walks allowed by Red Lion pitching. The four-run second was keyed by Joe Pietrobone's three-run homer. Jon Benchich and Dan Wecker each had two hits for Hallam. Logan Stover had two hits for Red Lion. Jake Schoelkoph pitched a complete-game five-hitter to get the win. He struck out seven and walked two.
Conrads 11, Red Lion 8: At Conrads, Kevin Keesey (two doubles, two runs, walk, three RBIs), Travis Hake (two hits, two runs, walk, two RBIs), Josh Knaub (two hits, run, double, three RBIs) and Matt Jordan (two hits, run, double, walk, RBI) paced Conrads. Alex Zelger (four hits, three runs, two RBIs), Thomas Taylor (three hits, run, homer, five RBIs) and Walker Monteith (two hits, double, RBI) led Red Lion.
East Prospect 8, Windsor 1: At East Prospect, Adam Yunginger allowed just one run in five innings to get the win, striking out 11 and walking five. Brian Crumbling pitched two scoreless innings in relief with three strikeouts and one walk. Ben Achenbach homered and drove in three runs for the winners. Ryky Smith also homered for Prospect, finishing with two hits and two runs scored.
East Prospect 6, Stewartstown 4: At Stewartstown, Joel Springer had three hits, including a pair of doubles, to pace Prospect. Jesse Brittain tripled and had two RBIs for Stewartstown. The home team loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh innings, but couldn't score.
Stewartstown 2, York Township 1: At Township, Dave Loban, with seventh-inning help from James Klingerman, pitched Stewartstown to the victory. Loban shut out the home team over the first six innings before giving up a run in the seventh. He left with the bases loaded and two outs. Klingerman came in and struck out the first batter he faced to end the game. Adam Allshouse was 2-for-2 for the winners, who scored both of their runs in the second inning (a bases-loaded walk and Jason Mitchell's sacrifice fly). D.J. Reed delivered a run-scoring single for Township. Loban struck out three and walked four. Township's Matt Petersen also pitched very well, racking up seven strikeouts while walking four.
Windsor 5, Felton 0: At Felton, Windsor pitcher Garvey Blymire shut down Felton on three hits, all singles. Blymire struck out two and walked one. Chris Stoudt cracked a solo homer for the Cardinals. Brady Taylor had two hits for Felton.
Hallam 5, Felton 1: At Felton, Jon Benchich, Eric McNeil, Jason Seitz and Joe Strayer each had two hits for Hallam, which broke open a 1-0 game with four runs in the top of the fourth. Winning pitcher Shawn Hedrick displayed outstanding control by striking out eight while not issuing any walks. Hedrick checked the home team on five hits, two coming off the bat of Cory Waltersdorf.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.