LOWER SALFORD — Souderton coach Mike Childs put on his lawyer hat in the seventh inning to help his squad capture a Suburban One League Continental Conference win over Hatboro-Horsham Thursday afternoon.
As he approached the judge — in this case the second base umpire — Childs made a case that the men in blue sided with. A collision on a stolen base attempt saw the runner and shortstop fall to the ground. The runner was called out for not sliding and the Hatters rally attempt was revoked. The Indians currently have a 6-5 win to their name, but coach Pete Moore and the Hatters want a retrial.
"In my 13 years as a head coach this is the first time I will have to go through the protest process,' Moore said. "We should be back here with one out, with a runner on, and Eric Thomas at the plate.'
The ball thrown down to second base sailed into the outfield and scored Eric Lane from third base. It was a triple by Lane that pushed the score to one run and gave Eric Thomas a chance to tie it with one out and a runner in scoring position — or so Moore expected. Moore expected the call be interference and a runner on third with one out.
"In my opinion there is nothing to protest,' Childs said. "The umpire told me he did not slide. It's not my call, so we will see what happens. I am happy with the way we played. It is literally the fourth time on the field.'
But after a long pause in the action the Indians Nate Luscombe struck out Thomas to take the home opener. Luscombe saved the win for Dan Heilmann, who battled through sixth frames, scattering six hits and striking out a pair. After allowing three runs in the first three innings Heilmann retired 10 in a row before the final inning.
"Heilmann started out rough, but did pretty well,' Childs said. "He had some decent out pitches and get got into a groove. Nate did a nice job in relief. We are happy.'
The Hatters Justin Gregorio had two hits in the game, including a two run single in. He was supporting starter David Brown, who reached his highest pitch total of the year. The Kutztown commit sailed through three innings behind a well-located fastball before the Indians woke up in the fourth inning and a pair of errors allowed Big Red to add insurance runs.
"David was on a pitch count today,' Moore said. "He was strong and then maybe a got a little tired in the fourth inning. He is going to be great for us down the road.'
In the second inning, Brown forced the Indians' Jason Smith to ground out to strand the bases loaded. The second time in the same instance Smith got the better of Brown. With already one run across on a Micah Plank sacrifice fly, the left fielder split the outfielders with the bases loaded, driving in a pair to help the Indians take a lead they would never relinquish.
"First at-bat I rolled my hands over, the second at-bat I was just hungry,' Smith said. "I got a first pitch ball so I figured he would throw me a fastball. Once we starting hitting we never looked back.'
Whether the two teams return to Harleysville Community Center to pick up the game where the controversy occurred or the Indians keep the early advantage in the Continental, one thing is for sure. The teams are once again as even as ever and the better team on the given day will walk away with the win. Even if the umpires try to add their two cents.
"It shows our expectations,' Smith said. "We expect to make the playoffs and we are going to work hard in practice and in the games and we are going to go far.'
Souderton 6, Hatboro-Horsham 5
Hatboro-Horsham 102 000 2 — 5
Souderton 000 411 — 6
WP: Dan Heilmann (S) 6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 5 R, 4 BB, 2 K
LP Ryan Murphy (HH) 2/3 IP. 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
S Nate Luscombe (S) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
2B Brad Humski (HH), Jason Smith (S), Brad Stotlzfus (S)
3B Eric Lane (HH)
Follow Andrew Marcus on Twitter @amarcus515.