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RED LION>> Camren Ney's walk Thursday was not as good as a hit.

It was better. In fact, it was as good as a state tournament berth.

Or for those in the Palmyra dugout, season-ending heartbreak.

Days after upsetting No. 2 West Perry in the District Three Class AAA tournament, the Cougars (12-10) were on the wrong side of a walk-off victory at Red Lion, losing 3-2 to No. 7 Donegal. Ney took a 3-2 fastball just low with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to give the Indians (19-5) berths into both the district semifinals and PIAA Class AAA tournament first round. Palmyra starter Trevor Gill tossed a two-hitter, but gave up seven walks, including two of the intentional variety.

Working on orders from Cougars coach Tim Gingrich, Gill handed a free pass to Donegal lead-off hitter Ryan Myers as runners stood on the corners and Ney awaited on deck. Myers had owned the Indians' only hit of the day before Dale Houser opened the bottom of the seventh with a bloop single into shallow center.

"They got a key hit in the seventh that got them going and got them started. But that takes a lot of guts," Gingrich said of the taken final pitch. "That kid has a hell of an eye. Let's just put it that way."

Palmyra out-hit Donegal 7-2, boosted by a 3-for-3 day from sophomore shortstop Isaac Blatt. Blatt drove a run in during the top of the fourth and later scored to tie the game at two apiece after Gill had lined an RBI single to left. But the lasting impression left on the Indians dugout stemmed from Blatt's defense, which, in concert with Gill's work and other Cougar gloves, kept the game a low-scoring affair.

"Defensively, (Blatt) made a number of plays where that game could've easily been two, three runs our way if he doesn't make all those plays," Donegal coach Chris Miller said. "It was a good baseball game, and we're just glad to go on."

Indians starter Sam Lazowski held Palmyra to one hit over the team's last dozen plate appearances, as he buckled down following his two-run fourth. A half-inning earlier, Donegal had taken advantage of two early walks, breaking the scoreless tie when Myers' single plated Houser and then Ney brought home Kyle Hess on a fielder's choice.

"We just really stress trying to have quality at-bats. We don't count hits so much, we count quality at-bats and base runners," Miller said. "It's any way we can get on, and then we go from there."

The Cougars' district run, while brief, exemplified the team's late regular-season run, which yielded eight wins out their last 10 games through excellent pitching and defense. Palmyra allowed only four total hits to Donegal and West Perry, combining Bobby Dorta's two-hitter in the first round with Gill's Thursday.

"We had a great second half. I wish we could've started like that in the beginning," Gingrich said. "But, hey, you always, as a coach, you want to finish up strong and play your best ball going into the playoffs. And I thought we were. We played great defense. We pitched ... We just didn't get that extra run today."

Donegal 3, Palmyra 2

Palmyra000200 0 —271Donegal002000 1 —3 21

W — Sam Lazowski; L — Trevor Gill.

SO-BB — P: Gill 5-7. D: Lazowski 4-1.

2B — P: Carl Reigle.

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