STOVERSTOWN — Baseball is a funny game. Sometimes a team will start a big inning with a bloop hit. Other times, a ball will land inches from a couple of players.
Such was the case Thursday evening, July 27, when defending Central League champion Jefferson visited the team they're chasing in the standings this season — Stoverstown.
The Tigers took advantage of a two-run single, a ball that barely landed inside the foul line, off the bat of Levi Krause to tie the contest in fifth inning. Moments later, the home team took the lead on a double by Nick Todero.
What goes around often comes around, however.
The Titans put together a rally in their final at-bat in the seventh against Stoverstown starter Jordan Lehman. A double, a walk, a hit batter and then a bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch to Colin Porter evened the score.
That set the stage for Tyler Troxel, who poked a single in between Todero in center and Nick Spangler at second. Troxel’s hit off Krause, who relieved Lehman after the game-tying walk, brought in two big runs in what eventually turned out to be a 7-4 victory for the Titans.
Jefferson closed the gap between itself and Stoverstown to five points after improving to 18-9-1 (55 points). The Tigers, who saw their eight-game winning-streak end, fell to 20-8 (60 points).
The comeback was the second in a row for the defending champs, who rallied Tuesday vs. Mount Wolf on a grand-slam by Kurt Seiders.
“Two games in a row,” Troxel said with a smile. “They (Stoverstown) always play us well, but we play them well too. It just seems to happen this way every time.”
The victory was critical for a Jefferson team that dropped three straight last week.
“This is really nice to come back like this the past two games,” Jefferson manager Pat Schultz said. “... This is the last push for the year. These final seven games are all big.”
Sam Crater picked up the win. The right-hander dodged some bullets until the fourth. Krause’s hit sparked Stoverstown’s three-run rally that turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead.
“Sam really did limit them well,” Schultz said. “Levi hit a really tough pitch. ... It was several inches off the plate and it went down the first-base line and that kind of got them going. Their whole lineup is tough. It’s really good top to bottom. But he got some big outs when he needed them.”
Tuesday’s rally vs. Mount Wolf did give the Titans some confidence heading into the seventh. Still, it didn’t look good after a one-out single by Scott Trail was followed by a double off the bat of Ross Drawbaugh.
Drawbaugh’s hit fell inches inside the foul line in left, but the elation of that was quickly wiped out when Trail put on the breaks after rounding third. Trail was eventually tagged out at third, leaving the tying run on second with two outs.
After Lehman fell behind Joe Jasinski 2-0, the Tigers elected to walk the Titans catcher. Lehman’s next pitch then hit Cody Smith to load the bases. Porter battled Lehman tough with the game on the line and drew a walk on a pitch that just missed the outside corner.
Moments later Troxel hit a ball that was nearly caught for what would have been the final out of the inning. Instead, it fell between Todero and Spangler. An error scored Porter for the game’s final run.
“You have to tip your hat off to Sam Crater,” Stoverstown manager Tim Thoman said. “He threw a heck of a game. We had him on the ropes and our guys were hitting, but he stepped it up. I probably went with Jordan a couple of batters too long, but Jordan wanted it.”
Lehman took the loss, allowing 11 hits and seven runs (six earned). Crater, who collected two hits offensively to match Drawbaugh, Jasinski and Troxel, earned the win after scattering four runs on six hits.
Mount Wolf 15, Vikings 7 (6 innings): At Shiloh, Mark Burnside led the visitors by going 3 for 5 with five RBIs and one run scored. Also for the Wolves, Dustin Kuhn went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBIs; John Mehring belted two homers; Tyler Page went 2 for 3 with two runs scored, one RBI and two walks; Steve Pokopec doubled with three RBIs; and Danny Dierdorff went 1 for 2 with four runs scored and three walks. For the Vikings, Michael Santiago went 2 for 3 with a double and one run scored, Michael Moore went 2 for 4 with a double and one run scored, Chase James doubled with two RBIs, Cole Bixler went 2 for 3 with one RBI and Ryan Stough went 1 for 1 with two runs scored.
Manchester 7, Pleasureville 1: At Pleasureville, Kenny Kopp led the visitors by starting the game and throwing six-plus innings, striking out six, walking four and allowing four singles. Also for Manchester, Trey McWilliams went 3 for 3 with three runs scored; Logan Allison went 3 for 4, including a double, with two RBIs and one run scored; Jason Kelly went 1 for 2 with two RBIs and one run scored; and Matt Jordan had two RBIs. For Pleasureville, Matt Meyer and Devin Dellinger each went 2 for 3.
Windsor 5, Red Lion 2 (8 innings): At Red Lion, the Cardinals plated three runs in the top of the eighth to break a 2-2 tie. Shawn Wilson led the Cardinals by throwing a complete game, striking out four and walking one, while allowing four singles and one earned run. Also for Windsor, Connor Dewees went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, Luke Greisler went 2 for 3 with one run scored and one RBI and Tyler Stabley went 1 for 2 with one run scored and two RBIs. For Red Lion, Cody Somerville went 2 for 4. All 11 hits in the game were singles.
Stewartstown 13, East Prospect 6 (5 innings): At Stewartstown, the Vets trailed 4-2 going into the bottom of the third, but plated six runs that inning to take control. Justin Sommer led the Vets by going 3 for 3, including a double, with three runs scored and three RBIs. Also for the Vets, Jason Mitchell went 3 for 3, including two doubles, with two runs scored and one RBI; Cody Brittain went 3 for 4, including a triple, with five RBIs; and Ryan McMillan had two runs scored and two RBIs. For Prospect, Tanner Forry doubled with one run scored and one RBI and Dalton Renn homered and scored two runs.
Hallam 12, Conrads 0: At Conrads, Jaron Shimmel led the Express by starting the game and throwing six shutout innings, striking out seven, walking two and allowing three singles. Shimmel also doubled at the plate with one run scored and one RBI. Also for Hallam, Angel Matias went 3 for 3 with three RBIs and one run scored, Alex Tucci went 2 for 4 with three RBIs and one run scored, Dan Wecker went 2 for 5 with two runs scored and two RBIs, Corey Knaub had three RBIs, Xavier Bonilla went 1 for 2 with two runs scored and three walks and Matt Ruth had two runs scored and four walks. For Conrads, Joe Yourgal went 2 for 3.
York Township 6, Felton 4: At Felton, the visitors plated three runs in the top of the seventh to rally for the win. Ed Nail led the visitors, going 2 for 4, including a homer, with two RBIs and one run scored. Also for Township, Matt Attig went 2 for 4 with one run scored, Derek Pitzer went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and one RBI, Austin Martinez went 2 for 3 with one RBI and Andy Freeburger went 2 for 4 with one RBI. Township pitchers James Guiseppe and James Striebig combined for 11 strikeouts and three walks. For Felton, Patrick Daugherty went 3 for 4, including a double, with two runs scored; Ben Kitzmiller went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and one run scored and Cody Heffner went 2 for 3.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.