COAL TOWNSHIP — Ed Smink has a lineup full of fastball hitters and it proved to be the downfall for his St. Francis American Legion team on a rare mid-week morning baseball game at Doug Dobson Memorial Field at Shamokin Area High School.
Despite loading the bases with no outs in its first at-bat against Danville Post 40, the Shamokin-Mount Carmel squad failed to score and that proved to be the difference in a 5-3 loss.
“They got out of the jam and we had three innings with the bases loaded,” Smink said.
Danville manager Harold Albertson said, “The key to the game was the first inning. They loaded the bases with nobody out and didn’t score. That was huge and (starting pitcher) Tyler (Albertson) settled down after that.”
Smink said, “They started batters off with the curveball, and the slowness of that just got our guys off balance and they did their job by putting the ball over the plate. That’s a credit to their pitchers. They did what they had to do.”
Smink added, “Our guys are definitely fastball hitters and speed hitters. They hit the faster pitching,” he said. The Mount Carmel players and the Shamokin players like the faster pitching.”
And the defense also cost the home team.
“We had some errors that led to some runs,” Smink said. “The first three innings, some of those runs scored because of errors.”
Tyler Albertson, with help from a defense that played an error-less game, set the next three batters down in order after the bases were loaded. Quinn Rollman led off with a single and took second on a wild pitch, then Albertson walked Jack Chapman and Damon Dowkus back-to-back.
Clean-up hitter Logan Wills lined out to right fielder Andrew Haupt and Rollman was unable to advance, then Albertson got back-to-back swinging strikeouts from Blair Wagner and Anthony Stutzcavage to end the threat.
The errors helped his team, but manager Albertson said, “We hit well today off some pretty decent pitching.”
Danville opened the game with two first-inning runs on two St. Francis errors, a single and a hit batter.
Shamokin-Mount Carmel got one run back in the second, but it very well could have been more.
Mark Wetzel drew a leadoff walk, stole second and took third on a wild pitch. He scored on a single by Evan Salamone. But Connor Fenix’s attempted sacrifice bunt popped into the air in fair territory. Catcher Hayden Woland caught it and fired to first double off Salamone. Albertson got Rollman to ground out to shortstop to end that threat.
Doubles by Eric Sees and Andrew Haupt keyed a two-run third for Danville, with Patrick Yost and Jake Petro driving them in with a groundout and a single, respectively for a 4-1 Danville lead.
St. Francis made it 4-2 in the fourth when Chapman was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a Dowkus single.
Wagner, who took over on the mound in the fourth, limited Danville to one hit the rest of the way, with the only run scoring on a throwing error in the fifth.
Meanwhile, Wagner led off the home fifth with a long ball over the left-field fence to cut the deficit to 5-3. Stutzcavage followed with a bloop single to center field, but Danville turned it into an out when Stutzcavage initially tried to stretch it to a double and was gunned down by center fielder Alex Robenolt trying to retreat to first.
Smink said, “You wanted the players to make some things happen, but you need them to know the situation. They’re veteran players, they know what to do. But they’re going to make mistakes.”
Wetzel lined out to center for the second out, but after a walk to Salamone, Albertson gave way to reliever Chris Outt. He got out of the inning with a bouncer in front of the plate by Fenix, and new catcher Patrick Yost threw him out at first.
Outt allowed just a Wills single the rest of the way, striking out four.
Both teams enter the Susquehanna Valley League playoffs next week, with the first-round games tentative set for Tuesday on the home fields of the higher seeds. Danville is likely to be the No 4 seed with its 8-8 record while Shamokin/Mount Carmel (8-6), will be the No. 3 seed, but may need to finish a suspended game versus Selinsgrove, if necessary.
Smink said that game, if needed, will probably be played Monday and its opening game in the playoffs should be at home versus Williamsport.
With a good nucleus back from last year’s Region 5 runner-up, first-year manager Smink said, “I thought we would win a few more games but the games we did lose the teams came to play us. They came with their best games. They knew that we were a good team and I thought they brought their best at those times. We played well, but the timely hitting just wasn’t there,” he said.
Danville’s win avenged a loss to St. Francis earlier in the season.