COAL TOWNSHIP — Shamokin gave up a 5-0 lead, then rallied from behind only to come up a run short in the championship game of Saturday’s annual George Zalar Memorial Tournament at Doug Dobson Memorial Field.
All the Indians needed was one more pop fly to fall to the ground.
After falling behind 9-5 in the top of the seventh inning, Shamokin rallied for three runs and was threatening to at least tie it when Troy third baseman Tyler Williams snagged a pop-up in shallow left field off the bat of Jake Thompson to end it.
The Indians, who routed Sugar Valley Rural Charter 18-3 in the opener, appeared to be in control most of the way against the Trojans.
But the Northern Tier League team rallied and closed the gap with a three-run third inning, then tied it with two in the sixth.
The Trojans rode that momentum into the seventh when they erupted for four runs to stake starting pitcher Mason Bellows to a 9-5 lead with one last at-bat coming for the Indians.
Except for the final score, the Indians did not disappoint their fans.
Devin Pietkiewicz led off by beating out an infield single on a ball hit to the shortstop. After a ground out, Mark Wetzel and Collin Hoover hit back-to-back singles to drive in a pair and a third run scored on an error on a ball hit by Jacob Carpenter.
Cameron Orner followed with an infield single and Bellows hit his pitch limit of 100 with the tying run on base and Thompson representing the winning run at the plate.
With Orner on the move, new pitcher Nate Martin got Thompson to hit a high pop-up behind third base. Left fielder Ja Wallace, shortstop Clark Jackson and Williams all converged.
With all eyes on the trio, the ball landed in Williams’ glove and he held on to give his team a pleasant trip back up north.
Shamokin coach Andrew Derr said he watched it and his only thought was “Drop it.”
He didn’t get his wish, but he was proud of the comeback effort.
“That’s what we try to teach, not to ever give up. A few years ago, we played these guys and we were down 8-0 and came back to win it. We’ve had a lot of comeback wins in the last two or three years,” he said.
Troy coach Kevin Allen said of the dramatic ending, “That was a little crazy.”
“What can you say, it was all or nothing. If it falls in, we lose,” he said. “Anything is possible on a day like this.”
Allen, whose Trojans are now 7-0 under a new coaching staff, said his team’s game the previous day was its first without snow this season. The title game was played with temperatures in the low to mid-80s while the temperature in Troy was reportedly 48.
“Our goal was to just play good baseball, clean up some mistake they made last year and so far it’s been a blessing,” Allensaid.
The Indians’ inability to hit consistently and a lack of arms, the result of entering the tournament having played four games in five days, were the biggest contributors to the loss, according to Derr.
“Collin did a great job. He’s not a pitcher. He did much more than was expected of him, I expected him to go maybe three or four innings. He did a fantastic job,” Derr said.
The Indians (3-4) took the early lead in the first on an error and RBI single by Wetzel, then scored four runs on four hits in the second.
Consecutive singles by Matt Dimmick and RBI singles by Orner and Jake Thompson got things started and, after a fielder’s choice, Pietkiewicz doubled in a run and later scored on an error on a ball hit by Wetzel.
Down 5-0, Allen said he was telling his players, “Jump on the fastball.”
He said, “We were getting ourselves in some bad counts and (Hoover) was throwing the first pitch down the middle and we needed to adjust and jump on it.”
After the four-run outburst, Bellows settled down and allowed only three baserunners (a walk, an error and Thompson single) until the seventh, when the Indians produced their final rally that fell short.
Derr said his team needs to hit for a full game. “We either hit at the beginning of the game or the end of the game. We play pretty much flawless defense for the most part, we just have to start hitting,” he said.
The Indians got things going quickly in the opener against Sugar Valley Rural Charter. They sent 10 batters to the dish in the first inning, scoring five runs on four hits (singles by Quinn Rollman, Hoover, Dimmick and Orner), then 15 more in the second when they plated nine runs on seven hits. The big blasts in that frame were a triple by Hoover and a double by Jake Ramer.
Shamokin banged out four hits to score four runs in the third to end the game via the 15-run rule. Hoover drilled his second double of the game to end it.
Troy did a similar number on Line Mountain in the other first-round game, winning 16-1 in five innings.
Brandon Zechman, who received the tournament’s Most Valuable Player plaque from George Zalar’s son, Garrett, belted a pair of triples and Clark Jackson and Williams each doubled in that win.
The Eagles (2-3), who rolled to a 16-1 three-inning win over Sugar Valley in the consolation game, were gasping for air on offense.
They got no-hit by Millersburg in their previous game, then went hitless against Troy starter Hunter Kendall until Tyler Boyer lined a single to left with two outs in the fourth.
“We had 10 hits in each of our two games, so that was unexpected,” Line Mountain coach Kevin Mace said, after the opening loss.
Line Mountain coach Kevin Mace started only two seniors and he conceded that the inexperience showed itself, especially inthe field.
“We had way too many errors, sometimes multiple errors on the same play,” Mace said. “When we should have been out of the inning, we didn’t help our pitchers by extending those innings.”
The Eagles coach added, “Troy is always a good hitting team. Troy for the last five years has hit us hard.”
Line Mountain also avoided the shutout when, in the fifth, pinch-hitter Kaleb Warfel was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning against reliever Hayden Dewey. Seth Wolfe followed with a pinch-hit single and later scored on a two-out error.
In the consolation game, the Eagles took out their frustrations on the Phoenix as Austin Stiely, Cameron Gaw and Boyer each collected three hits and Gaw and Warfel each drove in three. Boyer, Evan Herb and Brendan Cregger also each drove in a pair.
Shamokin 18, Sugar Valley Rural Charter 3
SUGAR VALLEY (AB-R-H-RBI) Walizer 2-0-1-0, Conondy 0-0-0-0, Flick 2-0-1-1, Showers 2-0-0-0, Thomas 2-0-0-0, Dinnin 2-0-0-0, Tice 1-0-0-0, Falk 0-1-0-0, Blackwell 0-1-0-0, Weaver 1-1-0-1. Totals 12-3-2-2.
SHAMOKIN (AB-R-H-RBI) Rollman 2-1-1-0, Bowers 2-1-1-1, Pietkiewicz 4-3-3-1, Miller 2-2-1-2, Scholl 2-1-0-0, Wetzel 1-1-0-0, Delorso 3-2-2-2, Hoover 3-2-3-4, Ramer 1-0-0-0, Carpenter 2-1-2-1, Dimmick 3-2-2-1, Orner 2-2-1-1, Bates 0-2-0-0, Thompson 0-0-0-0, Fenix 1-0-0-0. Totals 28-18-16-13.
Sugar Valley 003 — 3 2 3
Shamokin 549 — 18 16 1
Conondy, Flick (3) and Weaver. Pietkiewicz and Miller. WP: Pietkiewicz; LP: Conondy.
2B: Flick, Hoover (2). 3B, Carpenter.
Troy 16, Line Mountain 1
TROY (AB-R-H-RBI) Jackson 4-2-1-0, Cohick 3-1-1-0, Dewey 2-0-0-0, Williams 3-4-1-3, Martin 3-1-1-2, Zechman 3-3-2-1, Borden 2-1-1-2, Wallace 1-1-1-0, Kendall 2-0-0-0, Colton 2-0-1-2, Call 4-0-1-2, Dibble 3-2-2-1. Totals 32-16-12-13.
LINE MOUNTAIN (AB-R-H-RBI) Cregger 2-0-0-0, Schwartz 2-0-0-1, Heim 0-0-0-0, Wirt 0-0-0-0, H. Herb 2-0-0-0, Gaw 3-0-0-0, Boyer 2-0-1-0, E. Herb 2-0-0-0, Keim 1-1-0-0, Warfel 0-0-0-0, Scott 1-0-0-0, Wolfe 1-0-1-0, Rothermel 1-0-0-0. Totals 13-1-2-1.
Troy 443 32 — 16 12 5
Line Mt. 000 01 — 1 2 1
Kendall, Dewey (5) and Call. Keim, Herb (2), R. Shaffer (5) and K. Shaffer. WP: Kendall; LP: Keim.
2B: Zechman (2), Jackson, Williams. 3B: Martin, Borden.
Troy 9, Shamokin 8
TROY (AB-R-H-RBI) Jackson 5-1-3-1, Wallace 5-1-1-0, Williams 4-2-4-2, Martin 3-0-0-0, Cohick 3-1-1-2, Zechman 4-2-1-0, Borden 2-2-2-1-0, Colton 3-0-1-0, Bellows 0-0-0-0, Call 3-0-1-2, Dibble 0-0-0-0. Totals 32-9-13-7.
SHAMOKIN (AB-R-H-RBI) Rollman 4-2-0-0, Pietkiewicz 4-2-2-1, Ramer 0-0-0-0, Miller 4-0-0-0, Wetzel 4-1-2-2, Hoover 4-1-2-1, Carpenter 4-0-0-0, Dimmick 4-1-1-0, Orner 2-1-1-1, Bowers 2-0-1-0, Thompson 4-0-2-1. Totals 34-10-8-6.
Troy 003 002 4 — 9 13 4
Shamokin 140 000 3 — 8 10 1
Bellows, Martin (7) and Borden. Hoover, Dimmick (7) and Carpenter. WP: Bellows; LP: Hoover.
2B: Williams, Zechman, Pietkiewicz. 3B: Zechman.
Line Mountain 16, Sugar Valley Rural Charter 1
SUGAR VALLEY (AB-R-H-RBI): Walizer 1-0-0-0, Tice 2-0-0-0, Flick 1-0-0-0, Thomas 1-0-0-0, Kennedy 1-0-0-0, Showers 1-0-0-0, Falk 0-1-0-0, Dinnin 0-0-0-0, August 1-0-1-0, Weaver 1-0-0-0. Totals 9-1-2-1.
LINE MOUNTAIN (AB-R-H-RBI): Cregger 2-2-2-2, Stiely 2-3-2-1, Gaw 3-3-3-3, Boyer 2-3-2-2, E. Herb 3-1-1-2, H. Herb 2-1-2-1, Warfel 3-1-2-3, Rothermel 2-1-0-1, R. Shaffer 1-1-0-1. Totals 20-16-14-10.
Sugar Valley 010 —1 2 1
Line Mountain 13(3)x —16 14 0
WP: H. Herb; LP: Thomas.
2B: Stiely, Gaw, Boyer.