If you pull on a New Oxford Twins uniform today, chances are you might be asked to pitch.
New Oxford claimed a 5-4 win over Littlestown on Tuesday in the South Penn League double-elimination tournament, which is proving to be a war of attrition. The Twins travel to Cashtown this evening hoping to simply play another day.
“Anybody whose arm doesn’t hurt will go tomorrow,” said New Oxford’s Jordan Arnold, when asked who gets the nod on the mound. “We’ll throw everything we have at them and give it a go.”
Arnold didn’t rule himself out of the equation, even after throwing 69 pitches in 3.2 innings of work against the Dodgers.
“I’ll take an ice bath tonight and see how it goes,” he said.
New Oxford raced out of the gate by scoring three times in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff man Josh Rickrode hit a laser to right that was misjudged, allowing the speedster to hustle all the way to third base. Matt Martin hammered a double to deep left to make it 1-0. Martin moved up a bag on Brady Topper’s fly ball, then trotted home when Joel Clabaugh laced a ball to center for a single.
Arnold helped himself by clubbing a ball to the coffin corner in left, just inside the foul line for an RBI double.
“It’s huge,” said Arnold of the quick start. “I’ve got a dead arm. I haven’t had my best stuff for a few weeks so I was just trying to get the ball over the plate and hope they get themselves out.”
Littlestown cut into the gap in the second when Justin Keith and Jacob Crawmer hit consecutive singles to left. Following a fielder’s choice, Trent Copenhaver pushed home a run by lofting a well-placed hit into right.
The Ox bats stayed hot in the second, where Conrad Miller and Rickrode stroked back-to-back singles following an out. Martin delivered again, popping a single to right that plated Rickrode. That spelled the end for Dodgers’ starter Justin Gladhill, who gave way to southpaw Calvin Benevento. Topper greeted him rudely, depositing a single to left to make it 5-1.
The Dodgers squandered a golden opportunity to score in the third when the first two batters reached, but cashed in during the fourth inning. Crawmer walked and Curtis Harman singled to left to get things started. Following an out, Austin Kipple — who was running for Crawmer — and Harman executed a double steal. Travis Inch made the move pay off by rifling a shot up the middle to plate a pair of runs and cut the deficit to 5-3.
Arnold gave up a single to Joe Murren before being lifted for Derek Smith, who promptly walked the first batter he faced. Smith atoned for the free pass by getting a strikeout to end the threat.
Even as they were chipping away, the Dodgers allowed scoring chances to pass them by leaving seven runners on base between the second and fourth innings, and 10 overall.
“We battled to stay in it, we just needed one more,” said Keith, Littlestown’s player/manager.
The Dodgers would have tied the game in the fifth had it not been for a cannon shot from Clabaugh in right. An error on a ball hit by Keith and Kipple’s infield single set the table for Harman, who dropped a beauty of a sacrifice bunt. A walk to Trent Copenhaver packed the sacks once again.
Smith dug in, getting leadoff man Tanner Kohler to fly out for the second out. Inch, who finished 3-for-3 with a walk, ripped a single into right to score Keith. Kipple hustled around third with the tying run but Clabaugh gunned him down with a perfect throw to catcher Austin Roth, who applied the tag.
“Travis had a nice game and got one through with the bases loaded,” said Keith. “Dave (Klunk) made the right call sending him there. It just worked out in their favor.”
The Twins went down in order in the fifth and sixth, with Benevento and Sam Zeigler doing the honors. On the night, all three Dodger hurlers combined for seven strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
The Twins looked to Clabaugh in the seventh, and with daylight fading fast, the righty went 1-2-3, fanning the final two batters of the game.
Keith believed that while challenging, the double-elimination tournament put in place this summer was a positive experience for his team.
“It’s different but with the short year, we were just happy to be out here,” he said. “I love baseball and I love being able to play. We understood and were okay with it.”
Arnold said New Oxford, which was missing its leadoff and No. 3 hitter, as well as a pair of pitchers, could have reinforcements for tonight’s skirmish against the Pirates, which would be welcomed.
“Playing every single day gets hard,” he said. “It’s hard to put your ‘A’ squad out there but everybody in the league is getting tired, so we’re all in the same boat.”
Littlestown 010 210 0 – 4 10 0
New Oxford 320 000 x – 5 10 1
Justin Gladhill, Calvin Benevento (2), Sam Zeigler (6). Jordan Arnold, Derek Smith (4), Joel Clabaugh (7). WP: Arnold. LP: Gladhill. SO-BB: Gladhill 2-0, Benevento 3-0, Zeigler 2-0, Arnold 0-2, Smith 1-2, Clabaugh 2-0. 2B: NO-Arnold, Matt Martin. 3B: NO-Josh Rickrode