Down to the last strike, Bobby Dorta delivered for Palmyra's baseball team Saturday afternoon. His two-run single stunned Cedar Crest, forcing county foes into extra innings in South Lebanon.
The clutch hit also garnered a swift response — albeit less dramatic — from the visiting Falcons.
Cedar Crest generated three runs in the top of the eighth to defeat the Cougars 8-5 in non-league action relocated due to field conditions at Palmyra.
The Falcons parlayed three walks, two hit batters and a single into their first victory of the infant season.
"It showed a lot about the character of our guys to step up and make some big things happen," Cedar Crest coach Ryan White said. "We did a nice job of jumping out early for the second game in a row, but we can do a better job in the middle innings of keeping up the intensity."
Reliever Matt McCarrick registered the final four outs to notch the win in relief of starter Hunter Torres, who allowed one earned run in four innings. McCarrick stranded two runners in the seventh on Griffin Mitchell's wind-whipped ball to right fielder Gage Ocker. Dorta capped off a three-run comeback for the Cougars, who trailed 5-2 in the sixth.
"You can have swings (of momentum) in a game," Palmyra coach Tim Gingrich said. "When we scored the two runs to tie, I really thought we were going to put it away there and win. (Mitchell) hit the ball pretty good, but the wind held it up. We had some other opportunities that we didn't do a whole lot with."
The Falcons (1-1) answered in the top of the eighth against Zach Miller, one of four relievers used by Palmyra (0-2). Kyle Bogdanovich reached on a one-out single, Austin Douple walked, and Ocker took one for the team to load the bags.
Leadoff man Gavin Smith followed with the game-winning RBI via walk. Nick Gonzalez added another free pass to make it 7-5. Catcher Caleb Albright ended the scoring when he took a pitch off the helmet to score Ocker.
"They definitely had momentum, but there was never a moment where we gave up," said Albright. "I felt like we had enough to come back. I felt confident, everybody felt confident. We knew we were going to get on base and come around."
Albright also opened the scoring with a two-run single in the first inning. The first frame featured nine combined walks between the clubs, which struggled to find the umpire's strike zone during the 3:17 marathon.
"Obviously our pitching needs some work," added Gingrich. "We haven't been on the field all year, and we're young when it comes to pitching. This was almost like a scrimmage. We didn't want it to be that way, but we have to see what we got."
Albright and third baseman Conor Bawiec combined for five of Crest's nine hits. Bawiec went 3-for-4 with a pair of walks. Albright racked up three RBIs, two singles and a free pass.
"Seniors are always looked upon to step up and make a few big plays," said White. "Conor had a great game, and Caleb's swinging the bat better. With those types of players and everybody working together, it made this win possible."
Hunter Wise accounted for the day's only extra-base hit courtesy of an RBI double in the sixth. His high archer to right gave the Falcons a 5-2 advantage.
Connor Gurt fronted Palmyra's attack with two singles and two walks at the top of the order. The Cougars' revival started in the sixth with a leadoff single by No. 7 hitter Colin Gurt. Colin later scored on a Mitchell fielder's choice to make a two-run deficit. In the seventh, Miller singled to left, and Mitchell Sauley reached on an error before Anthony Faiola walked to load the bases.
With two outs and a 2-2 count, Dorta ripped a single over second to plate Miller and pinch runner Logan Donough.
"Key hit — young kid," added Gingrich. "We need stuff like that when you're not scoring a lot of runs. That's one of those things. We need to play good defense, which we are, and we need to get the pitching straightened out."
Crest lost its season opener to Hershey 4-2 on Friday. Palmyra dropped a 10-2 decision to Manheim Central.