SHILOH — The omens were not exactly great for Shiloh at the beginning of Tuesday night's decisive Game 3 in its first-round Central League playoff series against Jefferson.
Shiloh got shut down Saturday at home by left-hander Jon Kibler. The Titans again turned to the southpaw on Tuesday to help them try to advance to the semifinal round.
On just two days of rest, Kibler proved to be just as effective early on, holding the home team to no runs or hits over the first three innings. When Kibler wasn't dealing, his team was building up a seemingly comfortable three-run lead for its ace, thanks largely to a first-inning, two-run homer by Colin Porter.
But the team that likes to refer to itself as the Shockers lived up to its self-proclaimed moniker twice. In the fourth inning, the Shockers rallied to even the score behind a two-run double by Logan Stover. After Jefferson jumped ahead by a run in the fifth, Shiloh tied the score on a second RBI single by Alex Rohrbaugh.
Neither team could muster a run after that before Mother Nature forced the game to be suspended by darkness after seven innings with the score tied at 4-4.
Both teams will resume the game, tentatively at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday evening, back at Shiloh.
"Not really," said Jefferson acting manager Pat Schultz, when asked if he liked the outcome. "We started out really hot. Got a couple of big runs, but we had so many guys left on base. That hurts."
While both teams would have preferred playing another inning to determine a winner, Shiloh skipper Bubba Krout wasn't overly upset.
"With a game this good, you don't want to end with something happening in the dark," he said.
Schultz and his team felt badly because of their inability to get another 'W' for their southpaw, who pitched the team to a 5-0 victory in Game 1 Saturday. They collected 12 hits for the contest, but left 12 on base, including the bases loaded with no outs in the sixth.
"Yeah, it would have been really nice to put some more runs up on the board for Jon," Schultz said.
Titans start fast: The Titans were able to seemingly give their ace just what he needed early on, thanks to an early miscue by the Shockers. Joe Jasinski hit a grounder to third that he beat out after the ball was misplayed with one out. Two pitches later Porter made the Shockers pay for the miscue, ripping a blast over the fence in left.
The Titans extended the lead to 3-0 against Shiloh starter Brandyn Smith in the third. Porter led off the frame with a single and scored with two outs when Scott Trail singled off reliever Carson Fries.
Just when it look like it was going to be curtains for the home team, the Shockers rallied in the fourth. Jacob Molison singled ahead of a double by Brett Kinneman to put runners on second and third with no outs. Kibler got a grounder to third for the first out without Molison scoring, but Rohrbaugh, who reached on all three of his plate appearances, singled up the middle to make it 3-1. Both Rohrbaugh and Kinneman came around to score a few pitches later when Stover drove a ball to the wall in left center for a double.
Shiloh can be thankful for having a center fielder as highly acclaimed as Kinneman. He recorded an assist to turn a double play in the second inning before scoring in the fourth. He did it again in the sixth, leading off the frame with a walk. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to second, he later scored when Rohrbaugh punched a single up the middle.
Kinneman also drew a two-out walk in the seventh with the winning run on third, but Jesse Bortner popped out to second to end the frame.
While a suspended game is not ideal, the Shockers were plenty happy to find themselves in that situation after facing Kibler for a second time in the short series.
"Kibler is one of the best in the league," Krout said. "And coming back on short rest he did well."
Timing issue: The game is supposed to be resumed at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, but that timing was an issue with the Jefferson players and Schultz. A number of his guys work full-time jobs and can't take sick days to play Wednesday. Some of them work as far away as Washington, which may make it difficult for them to get to the field on time.
"We're going to have two guys that will be missing," Schultz said. "And they're both (Jasinski and Porter) leading off (the eighth). Lovely, right?"
Krout took himself out of any decision of how to proceed. He instead deferred to the league to see how it wants to handle it.
"That's the league's call," he said. "I'm not making that call. I don't want to win a game that way, but that's a league call."
The game will resume in the top of the eighth with Jasinski, Porter and Jordan Witmer scheduled to face Shiloh reliever Keenan Stare. Kurt Seiders, who relieved Kibler after six innings, is still the pitcher for Jefferson.
If Jefferson wins, it will travel to Glen Rock at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, while Shiloh would travel to Mount Wolf at the same time if it can claim the victory.
OTHER CENTRAL LEAGUE PLAYOFF GAME
Stoverstown 1, Manchester 0: At Manchester, Devin Harbold's solo homer in the top of the fifth broke a 0-0 tie and gave the visitors the lead for good. Stoverstown starting pitcher Matt Brooks threw six shutout innings, striking out eight and walking two to pick up the win. Also for the Tigers, Zach Schuler doubled, while Daryl Harang threw a shutout seventh to lock down the victory. For Manchester, Jeremy Pagano threw a complete game, striking out one and walking three, while teammate Dan Royer doubled. Stoverstown won the best-of-3 first-round playoff series, 2-1, and now advances to the semifinals and will face either Glen Rock or Mount Wolf on Thursday in a best-of-3 semifinal series.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.