Waynesboro Indians clinch tie for Mid-Penn Colonial Division


WAYNESBORO – The Waynesboro varsity baseball team fell behind 4-1 in the third inning when Northern York’s Rylan Yinger hit a high-arching home run over the fence in left centerfield.

It was a jolt to starting pitcher Mason Gochenour, but he didn’t throw in the towel either. Neither did the Indians.

Waynesboro tallied two runs in the bottom of the fourth and four more in the fifth before giving up a run in the sixth inning and holding on for dear life in the seventh stanza. Left fielder Eric Knepper made perhaps the defensive play of the year when he made a falling catch of a fast-dropping fly ball to end the 7-6 Waynesboro victory at Robinson Field on a beautiful mid-May day.

Waynesboro and Shippensburg will share the league championship. Both are 11-3 in the division. The Indians improved to 13-5 overall and play at Carlisle on Tuesday in the final game of the regular season.

After that, the Indians will wait and see where they stand in the pecking order of District 3-6A. As of Monday night, Waynesboro was 11th in the district power rating. The top 12 teams qualify for the playoffs.

“I was contemplating going out there and talking to (Gochenour) just to give him a break and say, ‘Hey, he’s a pretty good hitter,’” said Waynesboro head coach Travis Hardman. “It was a fastball. It was supposed to be away, but he got it too close to the plate. Mason said he shouldn’t have thrown a fastball. He kind of knew going in what he had to give him. He basically accounted for five runs. He had a three-run homer and that catch in center field saved two runs.”

The catch Hardman was referring to was a beautiful pirouette catch of a deep fly ball hit by Brett Powell with four runs already in and runners on first and third. The theft ended the bottom of the fifth inning and left the Polar Bears with a much better chance to stage a rally of its own heading into the sixth frame.

Waynesboro scored first when Gochenour hit a one-out single and later scored on a base hit by Knepper.

Northern starting pitcher Oskar Dees put down the Indians one-two-three in the third. Meanwhile, the Polar Bears were doing their best to put some distance between them and the Tribe. A four-run third inning certainly helped, but it was too early in the game for anyone to count out Waynesboro.

The momentum began to shift in the top of the fourth inning. Gochenour started the inning with a strikeout. Ambrose Depasqua reached base on an error, and Ryan Cromer singled. Depasqua was caught cheating toward home plate after making it to third base. Catcher Tyler Caron alertly threw to third baseman Tank Benedict for the second out of the inning. Then, the baseball gods handed the Indians another out when Caron, Benedict, and Gochenour teamed up to tag out Cromer in a rundown for the final out of the inning.

In the home fourth, Calvin Myers got aboard with a one-out single. He scored when Benedict drilled a double to deep left-center field. Benedict came around to score on a two-out base hit by Caron.

Northern pushed across a run in the top of the fifth to make it 5-3. But the Tribe turned a double play to prevent further scoring.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Indians batted around. Kellan Smith, one of five seniors to play his final home game as a Waynesboro Area Senior High School varsity baseball player, drew a one-out walk. Ethan Hotchkiss singled. Gochenour hit his second RBI single to plate Smith. Myers reached base on a three-base error that scored two more runs and gave Waynesboro a 6-5 lead. Myers scored on Knepper’s second RBI base hit.

The Polar Bears got a little closer when Cromer doubled and scored on a Spencer Cunningham two-bagger in the top of the sixth.

In the seventh inning, relief pitcher Seth Dodson’s second full inning, Yinger walked to lead off the seventh. A ground out to Myers at shortstop produced the first out. A fly out to Smith in center field was the second out. Knepper then secured the win with his highlight-reel grab in short left field on a ball that was dropping fast.

“I was just hoping a little blooper like that didn’t drop in no man’s land,” Hardman said of Knepper’s catch. “Not only that offensively he had two big RBI hits.”

Dodson entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs. He induced a very rare double play when Myers fielded a sharply-hit grounder and threw to Caron at home. Caron then turned and rifled one to Hotchkiss at first base for the double play. The next batter hit into a ground out to Powell at second base.

“I can’t say enough about Seth Dodson coming in with the bases loaded and a 2-1 count,” said Hardman. “He wants the ball. I’m so happy for him.”

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