Glen Rock earns marathon, 15-inning win over Vikings to win Central League playoff series
- Glen Rock beat Vikings in a 15-inning contest, 2-1.
- The victory allowed Glen Rock to win the best-of-three playoff series, 2-1.
- Glen Rock will now face Stoverstown in a best-of-three semifinal playoff series.
GLEN ROCK — Scott Merkel didn’t want to walk off the field at Glen Rock after another evening of no-decision baseball.
Merkel took things into his own hands when the continuation of a Game 3 contest between Vikings and Glen Rock extended into a 15th inning Wednesday, Aug. 16, in a Central League first-round baseball series.
After a walk and an error brought Merkel to the plate with the winning run on second, the Glen Rock center fielder lined a single into left field. Joe Young, who led off the inning with a four-pitch walk, easily beat the throw home to earn "The Rock" a thrilling 2-1 triumph.
Merkel and his teammates claimed the best-of-three series, 2-1. They will now travel to take on No. 1 seed and regular-season champ Stoverstown on Thursday, Aug. 17, for a game starting at 5:45 p.m.
“It was getting long,” Merkel said with a celebratory adult beverage in his hand. “I didn’t want to come back (Thursday).”
Had Glen Rock not won the game in the bottom of the 15th inning, it was decided that the game would continue into a third evening. The game was started Tuesday, Aug. 16, but was suspended with the score tied at 1-1 after nine innings. The game was resumed the next evening. Casey Hood started and pitched eight scoreless innings for Glen Rock.
Merkel’s big hit finally ended the game after his club had a number of chances to claim victory. "The Rock" twice had the bases loaded with one out but failed to score.
“Once Joe got on, I knew that we’d have a guy on second for me when I got up,” Merkel said. “When I got up, all I wanted to do is just sit back and drive it somewhere.”
Merkel’s walk-off winner sparked a big celebration on the field for a Glen Rock team that had to rebound after losing the opening game of the series over the weekend. The home team evened up the series with a victory Sunday, Aug. 13.
Neither side was able push across the winning run after nine innings of baseball on Tuesday, Aug. 15. That created the need for the two clubs to pick up where they left off Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Missed opportunities: The fact that the game resumed at 6:30 p.m. didn’t figure to be cause concern. Both teams had chances to score in the 10th inning. Vikings, however, was unable to bring in the go-ahead run in its half of the inning, leaving a runner on second. Glen Rock loaded the bases in the 10th only to see its chances end with a fly out to left.
"The Rock" appeared to end the game in the 12th. After the bases were loaded, Ethan Miller hit a liner to right. Vikings right fielder Chase James, however, made a diving catch. James quickly popped up and fired a strike to first baseman Walker Montieth, who threw the ball to catcher Mitchell Slater.
Slater appeared to tag Andy Rosenzweig on the chest just after Rosenzweig’s left foot touched the plate. Rosenzweig, however, was called out to end the rally.
Glen Rock had another bases-loaded chance in the 13th, but reliever Allen Rohrbaugh escaped the jam by getting a pop out on the infield and a soft liner to second.
“They’re a quality team,” Glen Rock skipper Mike Knott said of Vikings. “We’ve had quality games against them all year. And for this game to go 15 innings … it was just a great battle.”
Stoverstown up next: "The Rock" will have little time to celebrate before taking on the defending playoff champion Tigers. Stoverstown has enjoyed a week off by virtue of earning a first-round bye, while Glen Rock has played nearly four entire games over the span of the last five days.
Merkel, who along with Rogers finished with four hits, feels that those extra games have given his club a chance to build momentum, something that Stoverstown may lack after seven days of rest.
“Nothing better than that,” Merkel said of the semifinal series. “There’s nobody else I’d rather face now. We love playing them and they love playing us. It should be a lot of fun.”
Stoverstown won the regular-season series against Glen Rock, 3-2.
Slater and Randy Frankenfield led the Vikings with three hits apiece while Montieth collected two hits in the setback.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.