You won’t find the word panic in the Hanover Raiders’ lexicon. Team Hanover lost to Carroll County in the opener of a best-of-three. No problem, the Raiders won the next two to advance.
After being no-hit for four innings in the opening game of the best-of-five South Penn League semifinal series at New Oxford High School on Tuesday night, Mark Lorenzo’s club responded with late-inning heroics. A four-run sixth turned the game around and the Raiders hung on, 5-4.
Hanover (21-10-1) is a savvy squad that knows how to keep things loose.
“It seems the more pitches we see from the opposing pitcher, the better we are,” said Lorenzo. “We have a veteran club. They wait to see pitches. I’ve never been around such a clutch group of guys before and I’m real happy to be a part of this team. That’s how we play the last few years. We find ways to come back. I hope we can keep this momentum rolling throughout the playoffs.”
The Ox’s Doug Politz was commanding through the first five innings as the lanky righty mixed a lively fastball with a knee-buckling curve. He allowed a run in the fifth and entered the sixth with a 4-1 lead. After drilling Austin Kibler with a pitch and issuing Pat Brady a free pass, New Oxford manager Scott Meckley went to the bullpen. Conrad Miller entered the contest and promptly walked Clint Roche, packing the pillows.
“Doug was starting to elevate,” said Meckley, explaining his decision. “He’s been battling injuries all year and it looked like he was out of gas. I didn’t want him to face their big bats the third time through the lineup.
The middle of the Raiders lineup produced. Bob Taylor’s big fly to left chased home Kibler and Mark Phillips’ seeing-eye single plated Brady. Adam Smith ripped a double to left to tie the game and Phillips raced home on a wild pitch to score what proved to be the winning run.
“I feel bad for Conrad,” said Meckley. “He’s thrown strikes for us all year. He just didn’t have it tonight.”
The Ox (22-7-2) had a chance in its final at-bat. Baumgardner walked leading off, but reliever Brady retired Jeff Deveney on a pop-up to second and induced a game-inning double play on a laser off the bat of Deveney that the second baseman snared and threw to first to double off Baumgardner.
“We hit a lot of balls that were outs,” lamented Meckley. “But I’m proud of our offense. We had our two best hitters coming up (when Hanover turned the game-ending twin killing).”
It was all Ox in the early going. The home team jumped in front in the third with a pair of unearned runs and some classic small ball. Davey Zaminski was safe on an error and moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt. With one out, Dan Shafer singled and stole second. Deveney drove both runners home with a ground single to right.
The visitors got on the board in the fifth when Phillips doubled over the center fielder’s head, moved up on Smith’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Ken Horney’s two-out opposite-field slice to left.
The Ox scored two more in the fifth. Zaminski led off with a knock and Baumgardner walked. Shafer’s bunt moved both men up. Zaminski danced home on Deveney’s sacrifice fly and Baumgardner dented the dish on a wild pitch to up the margin to 4-1. It didn’t last.
Miller was tagged with the loss. John Karlheim got the win for the Raiders.
“He did a great job for us,” said Lorenzo of his starter. “I wasn’t even sure who we were going to pitch (tonight). He kept it close and gave us a chance to win. He’s pitched well against this team and at this field. That’s why I went with him today.”
Phillips was 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored. Deveney drove in three runs for the Ox.
“He’s been our horse,” said Lorenzo of Phillips. “He’s been hitting the ball well of late.”
Game 2 is Thursday night at Diller Field. Lorenzo isn’t sure who his starting pitcher will be. Meckley hopes to even the series behind standout Anthony Lippy.
“He’s had a week of rest and its his turn to pitch,” said Meckley. “After that, I’m not quite sure.”
Hanover 000 014 0 – 5 4 2
New Oxford 002 020 0 – 4 5 0
John Karlheim, Pat Brady and Ken Horney; Doug Politz, Conrad Miller (6), Jeff Deveney (6) and Roth. WP: Karlheim . LP: Miller. SO-BB: Karlheim 0-3, Brady 1-1 ; Politz 5-2, Miller 0-0, Deveney 0-0. 2B: H-Mark Phillips, Adam Smith