JACOBUS – Alex Tucci has usually been the type of pitcher who needs a few innings to warm up before finding his groove.
The old adage about standout pitchers that says "if you don’t get to them early, you won’t get to them at all" certainly applies to the tall Hallam southpaw.
So when home-standing Jacobus scored four times in the first inning off Tucci, things appeared in good shape for the reigning Susquehanna League champions.
Unfortunately for the Jackals, those four runs ended up being nearly their entire total Tuesday evening. Both Tucci and his Express offense started to get going at about the same time during a contest played in bouts of rain. Hallam followed up a two-run second with a six-run fourth, highlighted by a two-run homer by Angel Matias.
While Jacobus did scratch across another run against Tucci, it wasn’t enough. The Express rolled to an 11-5 comeback victory. First-place Hallam improved to 17-3, while Jacobus (13-5) dropped into a second-place tie with East Prospect.
“I wasn’t locating well early and they were taking advantage of it,” Tucci said. “I left balls right over the middle and they weren’t missing them.”
A solo homer by Anthony Ferrell and a two-run triple by Kerry Clark helped the Jackals storm out to an early 4-0 advantage. After the York Catholic graduate loosened up a bit, however, the home team found the offense a lot tougher to come by. Tucci allowed just six hits (all singles) while fanning six the rest of the way.
Veteran Corey Knaub, one of the more astute players in the league, zeroed in on the problem directly.
“Don’t let him tell you anything else,” Knaub said. “It usually takes (Tucci) an inning or two to finally get warmed up and then he’s all good.”
Nothing could have been closer to the truth. Tucci’s velocity seemed to kick up a tick. Perhaps it was because he was loose. Perhaps it was because he was a little angry. Either way, it spelled trouble for the Jacobus batters.
“I was getting looser and getting used to the mound,” Tucci said. “But I was getting mad at myself.”
An RBI double by Colby Shimmel drove in Jaron Shimmel in the third to start the Hallam comeback. Matias followed two batters later with a single up the middle that scored Colby Shimmel to make it 4-2.
The Express exploded offensively in the fifth against Jacobus starter Brier Lauer. Back-to-back singles by Ryan Day and Jaron Shimmel got things started. After Colby Shimmel drove in a run with a ground out, Eric McNeil followed with a single to tie the game. That set up Matias, who crushed a two-run homer over the fence in right center, putting the visitors ahead 6-4.
“I didn’t think it was going to go over,” said Matias, who tallied three hits and four RBIs in the triumph. “I just hit it and started running until I started hearing everybody start screaming.”
That cushion was more than enough for Tucci, who allowed a bases-loaded single to Jed Larkin in the sixth that plated the final run of the night for the Jackals. It also provided this year’s league leaders a sense of relief knowing that one of their top pitchers was on his game.
“The game didn’t start right on time and I know that it takes him a little while as a pitcher to get ready,” Matias said. “So I was worried a little bit. But once it was the second or third inning, he got it going. He got a little cheddar in him.”
Joel Buchko and Clark finished with two hits each for Jacobus, while Jaron Shimmel and Colby Shimmel each collected three this hits for Hallam.
Dallastown 6, York City 1: At Dallastown, Jake Gates led the home team to the victory by throwing a complete game, striking out two, walking four and allowing four hits. Also for Dallastown, Riley Hamberger went 2 for 4, Bryant Holtzapple doubled and Chase Miller went 1 for 1 with two walks and one run scored. For York City, Jorman Mora doubled, while Mike Bonilla threw a complete game, striking out one, walking three and allowing four earned runs. Dallastown improved to 7-4-0. York City fell to 5-7.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.