In a season where the Cougars scored six or more runs in 13 of 20 regular-season contests, Palmyra was held to just one on three hits by Northern York's Rusty Simmoneau in a season-ending 3-1 loss in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA playoffs.
Not only did the loss end the season for the Cougars (13-8), but in his post-game talk to the team, Palmyra head coach Tim Gingrich informed them he had coached his last game.
Then he casually said, "I told the guys I'm retiring. I've had 23 years (17 as head coach) and said a couple years ago I wanted to see Preston (Bare) and the other guys through this year and then evaluate from there. I just felt it was time."
Stranding two of their seven runners in the game in the first inning set the tone for the Cougars. Mike Fuhrman walked and Colby Conway doubled, but Simmoneau got the
Northern went the opposite direction, getting a two-out, first-inning run. A single by Jon Mayer was followed by a single by Dylan Tamecki, chasing courtesy runner Ricky Bich to third where he scored on a wild pitch for the 1-0 lead.
Tamecki singled again in the third, and Anthony Salomone followed with a blast over the left-field fence off Palmyra starter Josh Sollenberger to go up 3-0.
Nick Slobozien struck out the only batter he faced in the fourth when he replaced Sollenberger with two outs and two men on.
In the fifth, Palmyra had runners on the corners with two outs when Simmoneau pulled the fake-to-third-and-throw-to-first play to catch that runner off base. During the rundown, Sullivan Bortner, who was on third, attempted to score but didn't.
"It has been a long time, a very long time since I've seen that fake throw play work," Gingrich sighed.
In the sixth, another Cougar runner was picked off first.
On the positive side, a fly ball to right was caught by Morder, who rifled a throw to third in plenty of time to nail the Northern runner trying to advance from second base.
"I was as surprised as everyone was when the coach said he was retiring," senior Conway said about the post-game announcement. "He had a great career and was one of the best coaches I've ever had and definitely was a big help in getting me into college."
When questioned about Sollenberger's outing that didn't appear to be up to his usual efforts, Conway said, "He pitched better than it appeared. That first inning he had to throw more than 30 pitches because on a couple close pitches he didn't get the call. Josh battled as he always does, and I look forward to catching him in legion ball this summer."
In further explanation about his decision to hang up the uniform, Gingrich said, "I'm going out on a good note even though we lost. There aren't any problems or scandals; it is just time for me to go. We've done pretty good in districts and states over the years, but the thing I'm most proud of is making the kids better people, not just better players."