Baseball can be a funny game. Getting good breaks – or bounces – is often the difference between victory and defeat.
On Tuesday, Biglerville caught a good break after what appeared to be an unlucky bounce. The Black Sox were deadlocked at 2-2 against Cashtown in the home half of the seventh inning with speedy Chase Long on first base and dangerous lefty Logan Brewer at the plate. Brewer tattooed a fastball to the gap in right-center that looked like a sure winner. Long was certain to scoot home with the winning run before the ball appeared to land well in front of the fence and hop over it, which would have been a ground-rule double, sending Long back to third.
Funny thing was, the field umpire, after a brief pause, put his hand in the air and twirled his index finger to indicate a home run. Long and Brewer, who had stopped on the basepaths, continued home to join their teammates celebrating a 4-2 South Penn League victory at Oakside Community Park.
Brewer, who was digging out of the batter’s box and didn’t see the flight of the ball, never had a dinger in mind.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and get him over or maybe score him on a gapper,” he said while trying to hide a sheepish grin. “I didn’t think it was going to come close so I was going for extra bases.”
The Pirate outfielders raised their arms in protest but following a brief discussion between the umpires the home run call stood.
“It’s tough,” said Cashtown manager Eric Ketterman, whose club slipped to 1-1. “The umpire made his call and we have to live with it.”
Biglerville manager Travis Byers didn’t prefer to grab a win in controversial fashion.
“It’s not an easy call but you have to be 100 percent sure,” he said. “If it bounced over I’d rather have second and third and somebody hit. I’d rather win that way.”
While the exact measurement of Brewer’s blast may remain in question, his impact in the outcome isn’t up for debate. He nearly left the yard to the opposite field pinch-hitting in the fourth before delivering the decisive walk-off blow.
“He’s going to be a nice addition to the team, I knew that after the first pitch I threw him in BP,” said Byers. “That was the first time I’d seen him hit and I knew it wouldn’t be long until he was in the lineup.”
The debatable call capped a well-pitched, well-played contest by both squads. Neither team issued a walk through the first six frames and only one error was committed. Anthony Lippy, a two-time South Penn Pitcher of the Year, was stout in his Cashtown debut after coming over from New Oxford. Lippy fanned seven and did not walk a batter. He scattered five hits, three of which came in one inning.
“It’s just adding another horse to the stable,” said Ketterman, who noted that Cashtown is without the services of hurlers Alex DeHaas and Cody Smith. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the league so it certainly helps.”
Biglerville countered with Colton Devilbiss, who left after three strong innings. Devilbiss was touched up in the second when Chase King and Simeon Davis singled, and veteran J.C. Collins laced a liner just inside the first-base foul line to plate both runners.
Noah Ayers replaced Devilbiss to begin the fourth and posted three consecutive 1-2-3 innings. Ayers walked two batters in the seventh but worked out of the jam, finishing with five strikeouts.
The Black Sox squared the game in the fourth, getting started when leadoff man Tucker Byers was plunked. Following an out, Ayers singled to right and took second on an errant throw. Pat Armor then hit a flare into right that plated Byers.
Shawn Redding was called on to pinch hit, and he delivered with a rope to left that chased home Ayers with the tying run.
“I was just happy we played a complete game against really good pitching,” said Travis Byers. “We had a nice inning to tie it up and played solid defense for the second game in a row. That’s what we’re capable of doing. You stay in the game and put the ball in play.”
The Pirates, who are seeking a fourth straight league championship, were limited to five singles, two coming from DJ Cool.
“They’ve been quiet all spring,” said Ketterman of the Cashtown bats. “We’ve got enough practice in. We’re not seeing the ball well right now or striking it well, but it will come. It’s a long season and everybody makes the playoffs.”
Cashtown 020 000 0 – 2 5 1
Biglerville 000 200 2 – 4 7 0
Anthony Lippy, DJ Cool (6) and JC Collins. Colton Devilbiss, Noah Ayers (4) and Pat Armor. WP: Ayers. LP: Cool. SO-BB: Lippy 7-0, Cool 1-0, Devilbliss 2-2, Ayers 5-2. HR: B-Logan Brewer