WAYNESBORO – High school baseball has is share of micro rivalries. This season, the Mid-Penn Colonial Division is filled with them.
On Monday, Waynesboro and Northern York finally had the chance to continue what it started last season, when the Polar Bears eked out a division crown, but the Indians hosted a District 3 playoff game.
On the heels of a 7-4 win over West Perry – and a season sweep of the Mustangs – Waynesboro is trying to keep its league loss ledger to one game, that being Shippensburg.
The Indians, who rallied from down 2-0 against Big Spring to win 7-2 and handed West Perry its only two losses of the season, came from behind again at home on a windy late-April day. Garrett Blount was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory.
The win boosts Waynesboro’s division record to 6-1. It’s next opponent – Greencastle-Antrim – is 5-0-1 in the league, with two games looming against West Perry Thursday (one is the completion of a suspended game that is tied 2-2). The Indians play at Kaley Field in Greencastle on Tuesday and host the Blue Devils on Saturday at 11 a.m.
The game at Robinson Field had some edge to it, but not the kind that originates from the coaches, fans or players. A stiff wind blowing from right field and a bright sun made things interesting early.
Once things got settled, and players adjusted (or tried to) to the conditions, both teams put their arms, bats and legs in motion in what went on to be a well-played defensive game but a struggle for the four pitchers who played.
The Polar Bears had a chance to score in the first inning as leadoff hitter reached first on an outfield error on a play that was clearly due in part to Waynesboro’s outfielder losing the ball in the sun. He had it in his glove, but the ball quickly fell to the ground. No worries though, as Waynesboro forced out the baserunner and the inning ended without a run being tallied.
From there, Waynesboro starting pitcher Garrett Beaver, with his trademark side-arm delivery, baffled Northern batters and used a combination of strikeouts and makeable plays in the infield or outfield.
The Indians didn’t fare any better in the home first as two players were stranded on first and second bases. Polar Bears pitcher Josh Sullivan, a tall and imposing righthander, struck out two hitters in the first and ground out ended the inning.
The boys from Dillsburg struck first, and Waynesboro had difficulty putting together hits. Northern tallied three runs in the top of the third inning.
The Tribe did get some help in the bottom of the third when lead-off hitter Kellan Smith (he reached base five times in the game and led off the ninth with a double) was hit by a pitch and Dominic Moats reached on an infield error. But Northern turned a 6-4-3 double play, and Sullivan put an end to the inning with a strikeout.
Things started looking up for Waynesboro in the fourth inning. Ethan Hotchkiss led off with a walk and later scored on a double by designated hitter Jared Peck. However, Peck was tagged out after straying from third on an infield hit that ended a potentially lucrative inning.
Back-to-back one-two-three innings helped the Indians cause, and probably their morale. They were also hoping the memories of missed runs in the previous inning would fade with more run production in the fifth frame.
Waynesboro has had a propensity to play catchup in the later innings. Monday’s contest was no exception. The Indians plated two runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game. Moats got aboard on a fielder’s choice. Maddox Brooks reached on an error and Moats scored on a base hit by Blount. Luke Martin then sent Brooks home with another base hit.
Meanwhile, Beaver somehow got his pitching groove back after stumbling in the first three innings. He set the side down in order in the sixth on two fly outs and a strike out to preserve the tie game.
In a game that was as much defined as the plays that kept runners away from home plate as runners scoring, it was pitching and defense that saved the day – until the bottom of the ninth. Smith doubled. Moats was hit by a pitch and Maddox Brooks singled to load the bases. Blount was hit by a pitch to end the game.