DISTRICT 5-A BASEBALL: Meyersdale walks off against McConnellsburg in 12-inning battle
EVERETT >> Call it a pitchers' duel or a battle of attrition.
Any way you look at it, neither McConellsburg nor Meyersdale could score runs on Friday.
In a game that was full of opportunities – the teams combined to leave 23 runners on base – the Raiders finally cashed in during the 12th inning to hand the Spartans a 2-1 defeat in a District 5 Class A baseball semifinal.
"We had a lot of chances, and I told the guys that's what separated us today," McConnellsburg coach Brian Ramsey said. "We didn't get the big hit when we needed it. Unfortunately, someone had to lose this game, and it was us today."
Meyersdale (20-2), the No. 2 seed, advances to the final and will play No. 1 Southern Fulton (21-2) on Thursday at a time and place to be announced. The Spartans finish the season with a 17-5 record.
The Raiders were sent down in order by reliever JT Barnard in the 10th and 11th innings, but they finally broke through in the 12th. After a strikeout, Brady McKenzie singled into leftfield, and Trevor Thomas did the same thing to put runners on first and second. Then on a popup in foul territory at first base, McKenzie made a heads-up move and raced to third after the catch.
Connor Christner was up next with runners on the corners and two outs. On the first pitch, Barnard went with a curveball, but it hit the dirt right in front of catcher Ryan Koontz, and the ball shot up in the air and to the backstop, allowing McKenzie to come home from third.
"As soon as I saw it go by, I waved him in," Christner said. "I kind of second-guessed myself at first, but I saw the ball take a bad bounce, and he beat the play home."
"I didn't hate the ending one bit," Meyersdale coach Wayne Miller said when asked if it was a bad way to end such a hard-fought game. "Each team did pretty much the same thing all game. All four pitchers were able to get out of jams, and neither team was able to come through with big hits. We were just finally able to break through."
The thing that will haunt the Spartans the most is not the passed ball, but all the opportunities they let slip away. McConnellsburg left 13 runners on base and went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
"I feel like we had at least five good chances to win this game," Ramsey said. "But give them some credit. They made some great plays to keep us off the board."
In the top of the sixth inning, trailing 1-0, Taylor Souders led off with a double. Then both Landon Richards and Ryan Koontz were hit by a pitch, loading the bases with no outs. After a strikeout, Logan Little hit a slow roller to shortstop that allowed Souders to score, and Little was safe at first when McKenzie bobbled the ball.
But with the bases loaded and one out, Christner induced a ground ball to get the runner at home and a pop-out to end the inning. But the Spartans weren't done threatening.
In the eighth inning, Koontz led off with a line-drive single to leftfield and stole second on the very next pitch. Then Barnard roped a ball to second that Thomas appeared to catch, but the umpire at second base made no motion or call either way, so Koontz took off for third and Barnard raced to first. It looked like McConnellsburg had runners at the corners with no outs, but the home-plate umpire then called it a catch, and Koontz was doubled off at second. The next batter, Little, roped a double into left-centerfield.
"We thought we had two guys on and not outs, then all of a sudden we had two outs and nobody on," Ramsey said. "But we had so many other opportunities, we can't worry about that one."
In the 11th, Chase Novak led off with a walk, stole second and went to third on a passed ball. But McKenzie, who relieved Christner, got a pair of strikeouts sandwiched between a flyout to escape.
"That's just the way the game goes sometimes," Souders said. "What can you do? That's what it's all about in extra innings."
Both starting pitchers went nine strong innings. Souders gave up just one unearned run on six hits with three strikeouts and three walks. He was also 2-for-4 and reached base four times. Christner hit three batters and walked two, but he gave up just one run on five hits with 10 strikeouts.
"He's always solid for us," Ramsey said of Souders. "I told him I'd ride him the whole way, and he was up to the challenge."
Christner said, "I don't think I was at my best. I just tried to stay on top of the ball, and when I got my offspeed stuff going I did OK."
NOTES >> Meyersdale got on the board in the second inning when Logan White reached second on a throwing error, and Zach Hotchkiss brought him home with a single ... Meyersdale beat Southern Fulton 5-1 early in the season, but both teams used their No. 2 pitchers.
Meyersdale 2 McConnellsburg 1 (12 inn.)
McConnellsburgMeyersdaleabrhbabrhbSouders p4120McKenz ss4110Rchards 3b2000Thomas 2b6020Koontz c4010RCrstnr 1b5010Barnard 1b6000CCrstnr p5000Little rf5011Ritchey cf5000Novak ss4000White 3b5110Welsh 2b4000Htchkss c5011Miller lf5010Hetz dh3010Strait cf3000Minnick rf1000Crouse ph1000Krtchmn lf4010Totals38151Totals44281
E: McC 2, Mey 1; LOB: McC 13, Mey 10; 2B: Souders, Little, Thoams; SAC: Strait, Kretchman; SB: Souders 2, Novak, Koontz; CS: Miller, Kretchman.
Souders961033Barnard (L, 2-4)2.221103
C.Christner9511210McKenzie (W) 300043
WP: Souders 4, Barnard 1, McKenzie; PB: Mey 1; HBP: By C.Christner (Richards 2, Koontz).