EAST PROSPECT — It seems that the unusual becomes usual whenever Jacobus and East Prospect square off this season.
They've traded first place on consecutive nights.
Weather and/or darkness continually postpones and/or suspends games.
And when they do complete games, there's often late-inning heroics.
The top two teams in the Susquehanna League always keep things interesting.
Such was certainly the case when the Pistons and Jackals met Wednesday evening, looking to finish up their regular-season showdowns. Both teams were looking to take charge of the league as the season winds down.
It started with a suspended contest from last Thursday.
It began with East Prospect pitcher Hunter McVey throwing four scoreless innings of the resumed contest that was tied at 3-3 after six frames. It ended with McVey, who almost never gets to bat, driving in the game-winning run in a 4-3 triumph.
A few hours later, history repeated itself. Pistons' starter Dylan Stoops, who gutted through a battle with arm fatigue, won the second game in the bottom of the ninth with a bases-loaded walk in what was a 5-4 victory for the home team.
Trailing the Jackals by a half game entering the night, the Pistons (20-4) moved to a 1 1/2-game lead atop the standings with the sweep of Jacobus (19-6).
"This is truly baseball right here," said Stoops, who threw more than 110 pitches. "Against this team (Jacobus) all year, we've had rainouts, re-starting games and postponing them a week or so later and then having to play two, like we did tonight. It's like these two teams are so close that it's not that no one wants to win, it's just that it seems like no one can win."
Nightcap: It appeared to be headed that way on several occasions in the nightcap. Leading 2-1 heading into the sixth, Jacobus starter Kerry Clark surrendered the lead when Sean Rigney stroked a RBI double to left. Moments later Clayton Miller singled in Rigney to put the Pistons up 3-2.
But if those in attendance were really expecting that to hold up, they haven't really paid attention to recent history. With two outs in the seventh, Brian Crimmel singled to left. Teammate Brian Hudish followed with a grounder to second that should have ended the game. The ball, however, skipped past the fielder, which allowed Crimmel to score. Two batters later it was Riley Hamberger who singled in Hudish to put the visitors ahead 4-3.
That set the stage for the home team to again stage a comeback against reliever Mike Crowe. After an error allowed Ryan Saxman to reach base to begin the inning, Saxman was bunted to second for the first out. A fly out to left brought Crowe and company just one out away from a split, but Stoops helped his own cause with a single to center that tied it up.
Both teams had chances in the eighth and ninth frames, but only the Pistons were able to cash in. With darkness looming, Crowe quickly got the first two outs. But back-to-back singles by Saxman and Matt Shatto preceded a walk to Mark Schauren that loaded the bases. That brought up Stoops, who didn't have to do anything to bring in the winning run. Crowe missed the zone on all four pitches to give East Prospect's winning pitcher a walk-off RBI for a second game in a row.
"Something had to break sooner or later for one of us," said Stoops, who started for the third game in the past eight days. "And luckily it went for us twice. And for both of us to come home with walk-offs is kind of funny because any offense that we provide (as pitchers) is a plus."
Opener: That was definitely the case with McVey, a Penn Manor High School graduate who normally only pitches for the squad. So given the chance to make a difference at the plate, McVey didn't over-think his approach.
"I just went up there hacking at the first pitch," he said. "It was nerve-racking though. I'm like, 'I'm up here once and I have just one job to do.' So I figured I might as well do it."
McVey's winning hit came off Clark, who pitched three innings in the first game and six more in the second. Clark allowed just three hits in the second game but was victimized by three Jacobus errors. Crowe allowed three hits over 2 2/3 innings.
The Jackals collected nine hits off of Stoops, with Mike Austin and Austin Calaman each tallying three hits. Crimmel finished with two hits for Jacobus, who finished the season series with East Prospect at 1-3.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE GAMES
Stewartstown 5, Hallam 2: At Hallam, Justin Sommer threw a complete game, striking out nine and walking three, to lead the visitors. Sommer also doubled. Cody Brittain went 2-for-3, including a double, for Stewartstown, while Marcus Stevenson went 2-for-4 and Ron Trout highlighted a three-run second inning with an RBI double. For Hallam, Alex Tucci pitched a complete game, striking out seven and walking two, while Dan Wecker doubled.
Windsor 1, Felton 0: At Windsor, Rick Thompson's solo homer in the bottom of the first held up for the home team. Teammate Michael Hernandez threw a shutout, striking out four and walking two. For Felton, Brandon Zeigler and Patrick Daugherty combined to throw a two-hitter. The game featured a total of five hits.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.