MANCHESTER – It seemed like nothing had changed for Manchester early on in Thursday night’s contest against Central League-leading Stoverstown.
The Indians, who were shut out in their last meeting with the Tigers, have not had a great deal of success against them so far this season.
But sometimes things click at just the right time.
Nothing could've been closer than the truth, especially over the final three innings Thursday.
Trailing by five runs heading into their portion of the fifth inning, the hosts found a way to break through against Stoverstown and starting pitcher Matt Brooks. Manchester plated three runs in the fifth and sixth innings before winning the game in the bottom of the seventh on a walk-off single by Kody Reeser to claim a thrilling 8-7 victory.
“I’ve been telling these guys that they’re as good as anybody in the league,” Manchester manager Dave Miller said. “You have to beat the best to be the best and we certainly did that tonight.”
The Indians stretched their modest winning streak to three games with the triumph to improve to 9-7 overall. But it was the way that they did it that may be the most important takeaway from the victory.
Austin Allison, who hadn’t pitched in a league game in a few years, pitched the final two innings to earn the win. After starting the game at catcher — another position that the team’s normal right fielder rarely sees action — Allison settled down after allowing two runs in the sixth by retiring the Tigers in order in the seventh.
“He throws a little bit in intersquad scrimmages,” Miller said. “But we have some guys on vacation and stuff and he said that he could give me an inning or two.”
After Allison plowed through the Stoverstown lineup quickly in the seventh, the stage was set for some dramatics with the home team down 7-6.
After Dan Sepic was retired on a great play by Tiger shortstop Brandon Warner, the Indians went to work against Stoverstown reliever Ryan Kohr. A single up the middle by Allison got things going. An error allowed the go-ahead runner on base with one out. Jordan Latshaw then laced another single up the middle to tie the game at 7-7.
After Kohr struck out pinch hitter Brayton Bare for the second out, Reeser came up with a chance to win it. Another well-placed hit up the middle allowed pinch runner Trae Byer to score from second, setting off a huge celebration around Reeser on the infield.
“Tonight we were playing hard, especially those last couple of innings,” Reeser said. “This team never gave up and that’s one of the reasons that I’m on this team and not some other teams. We needed this.”
Reeser, however, heaped most of the credit for the comeback on Allison, who showed a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. That attitude is sort of a signature for the Indians and it showed Thursday.
“He’s not a catcher and he’s not a pitcher,” Reeser said. “He’s our right fielder, but he’s one of the biggest reasons we won tonight. And not just because of what he did at the plate, but because of how he played defense and pitched for us."
Logan Allison led the victors with three hits, part of a 12-hit Manchester offensive onslaught. Sepic and Latshaw each drove in two runs apiece for the Indians.
Daryl Harang led the Tigers with three of his team’s nine hits on the night. Levi Krause, who belted a two-run homer in the third inning, drove in three runs for Stoverstown.
OTHER CENTRAL LEAGUE
Mount Wolf 15, Pleasureville 0 (5 innings): At Pleasureville, the Wolves struck eight times in the top of the second to set the tone in their blowout win over Pleasureville. It was plenty of support for starter Danny Dierdorff, whoe allowed just three hits in four innings of work, while striking out five. He also drove in a game-high four runs for Mount Wolf at the plate.
Shiloh 5, Dover 1: At Shiloh, Alex Rohrbaugh powered the offense for the home team with a two-run single in the bottom of the second. Teammate Joe Prego threw a complete game on the mound, while striking out four and walking three, while Walker Monteith hit a double. For Dover, Mark Morrett threw a complete game on the mound, striking out four and walking two and teammate Colt Zarilla hit a double.
OTHER SUSQUEHANNA LEAGUE
East Prospect 4, Hallam 3: At East Prospect, the home team held off Hallam's late rally to secure the one-run victory. East Prospect scored twice in the bottom of the second and fifth to go up 4-0 before Hallam put together a three-run top of the sixth. East Prospect's Tanner Forry drove in two runs while starter Mkie Androconis earned the win, pitching six innings. Hallam's Jaron Shimmel and Zach Zambito each drove in runs.
York Township 6, Stewartstown 4 (6 innings): At Stewartstown, the road team struck three times in the top of the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie to earn the rain-shortened victory. James Guiseppe earned the win in relief for York Township, while Dan Reichard and Micah Striebig each had doubles. For Stewartstown, Cody Brittain hit a home run and Jason Mitchell had a double.
Conrads 8, Windsor 3: At Windsor, Rick Thompson powered the visitors to the victory by going 3-for-4, including a three-run homer in the seventh and a two-run homer in the fourth. Teammates Glenn Dietrich hit a triple, while starting pitcher Josh Knaub threw six innings to pick up the win.
Red Lion 5, Dallastown 4: At Red Lion, a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth broke a 4-4 tie and gave Red Lion the win over rival Dallastown. Erik Paulus had two hits and two RBI's for Red Lion, while Tyler Stabley pitched six innings to secure the win. Regie Maher drove in two runs for Dallastown and Jake Gates struck out three on the mound.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com