RED LION — Luck is one element that a sports team can't control.
A hard-hit ball that is caught is unlucky, while a softly-hit bad-hopper can turn a bad outcome into a good one.
That was the case Thursday evening when Hallam visited Red Lion in a Susquehanna League baseball showdown.
The Express had many chances, but often came up empty in key situations, but then a ball that looked destined to become a double play hits a base and turns everything around.
Hallam took advantage when Angel Matias hit a ball up the middle against reliever Brett Alaimo. Instead of two outs and no one base, the visitors set up shop with two on and no outs. Moments later Alex Tucci scorched a double to left center that drove in the game-tying run in top of the seventh.
The Express added four more runs, which was enough to secure a 7-4 triumph. Hallam improved to 11-2, while Red Lion fell to 8-3.
Tucci's big hit made Hallam manager Terry Golden look like a genius. Instead of bunting the runners over, the Express skipper allowed his left-handed-hitting slugger to swing away.
"First and second and no out and I was like 'do I bunt him or not?'" Golden said. "Eric (McNeil) and I had a little conversation there and we thought to just give him an at-bat. He's been hot. He was 9 for his last 10 coming into today."
Tucci's timely hit was just what Hallam was looking for all game long. The Express had plenty of chances throughout the first six innings, stranding nine runners against Red Lion starter Zach Luman. But after Alaimo helped Luman escape a jam in the top of the sixth, the Express were able to figure him out in the seventh.
"The second guy (Alaimo) came in and he was throwing a little bit harder," Tucci said. "I think we were able to time him up a little better and that really helped us."
Fortunately for the Express, Matias had Luman's number. The Hallam first baseman drove in both of his team's runs to stake his team to a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
An up-and-coming Red Lion team, however, scratched across two runs in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead into the seventh. A grounder to short off the bat of Brayden Lackey tied the contest before Mike Godfrey put the home team ahead with a single.
"They have a great young team," Golden said of Red Lion. "Everybody can hit, and then when they get on, they can run. They have a good lineup over there. They're going to be battling with the top teams all year long."
Just when it looked good for the home team, the Express got a little bit of luck to go its way.
"I'm really proud of the guys for not giving up," Golden said.
The home team put a bit of a scare into the visitors in the bottom of the seventh. After a lead-off walk to Bren Taylor, Golden pulled starter Jaron Shimmel in favor of Tucci, who threw four innings in Tuesday's victory over Stewartstown. Tucci allowed Taylor to score, but was able to record the final three outs to earn the save.
"I wasn't expecting (to pitch)," said Tucci, a York Catholic graduate. "I thought I was just going to be out in right field, but whatever coach needs me to do, I'll do."
Each team collected eight hits, highlighted by a 3-for-5 day from Matias. Ryan Day hit a two-run double in the seventh for the Express.
Red Lion's Jake Wapinski (single, double) was the only other player to collect more than one hit.
Jacobus 9, Stewartstown 5 (8 innings): At Stewartstown, the visitors plated four runs in the top of the eighth to break the 5-5 tie. Joel Buchko led the visitors with two doubles. For Jacobus, Mike Austin doubled, while former York Revolution pitcher Corey Thurman started the game on the mound. For Stewartstown, Cody Brittain, Dave Loban and Marcus Stevenson each doubled.
East Prospect 6, Felton 1: At East Prospect, D.J. Ream led the home team by going 2 for 3, including a double, with three runs scored and two RBIs. Also for Prospect, Tanner Forry went 2 for 2 with two RBIs, Matt Shatto went 2 for 3, Mark Schauren went 2 for 4 and starting pitcher Terry Godfrey threw five innings, striking out five, walking one and allowing four singles to pick up the win. For Felton, Evan Paules and Cory Waltersdorff each went 2 for 3.
Conrads 4, York Township 2: At Conrads, after trailing 2-1, the home team plated two runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead for good. Josh Knaub led the home team by throwing a complete game, striking out four and walking three. Knaub also connected for a double. Also for Conrads, Xavier Bonilla homered and collected two RBIs, while Brad Church scored two runs. For Township, Steve Dunham threw a complete game, striking out eight and walking two.
Shiloh 7, Glen Rock 4: At Shiloh, Chase James banged three hits, including a double, and drove in two runs to lead the home team. Ryan Stough, Cole Bixler, Alex Rohrbaugh and Jerrin Toomey added two hits each for the winners. Bixler doubled, while Dillon Schwartzer homered. Rick Goebeler pitched a complete game for Glen Rock, but his defense committed five errors behind him. Drake Koch pitched into the sixth to get the win. Logan Stover pitched two innings in relief to get the save without allowing a run.
Jefferson 10, Dillsburg 1: At Jefferson, Jordan Higgins led the home team by going 3 for 3, including a double. He was on base four times. Also for Jefferson,Joe Jasinski went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBIs, Ethan Lear went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, Trevor Troxel doubled and Jarod Kashner threw a complete gamestriking out seven and walking three. For the game, Lear broke three bats, including one shattering on an RBI single.
Manchester 8, Pleasureville 0: At Pleasureville, Jason Kelly threw six innings of one-hit ball to lead the visitors. Kelly struck out three and walked two in facing 19 batters. Teammate Kenny Kopp threw the seventh to complete the shutout, striking out two and walking none. Manchester's Nick Shuman went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBIs, while Trey McWilliams doubled. For Pleasureville, Tyler Wagner doubled.
Mount Wolf 8, Dover 2: At Dover, Dan Dierdorff led the visitors, throwing a complete game on the mound, striking out nine and walking two, but also connecting at the plate for a double, a triple and two RBIs. Also for the Wolves, Steve Pokopec went 3 for 3, including a two-run homer in the first and a solo homer in the fifth. Pokopec also scored three runs. Grant Myers went 2 for 4, including a double, with one RBI. For Dover, Devin Dellinger went 2 for 2.
New Oxford 9, Stewartstown 3: Joey Thomas and Ryan Goff each had two hits for Stewartstown in the loss. New Oxford scored all of it runs in the first three innings.
Hanover 5, Gettysburg 3: At Gettysburg, the visitors claimed the win. No other details were available.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.