Port Allegany Reporter Argus
May 21, 2009
Rain washed out the first Port Allegany – Smethport baseball game back in April, and delayed the second attempt long enough to force a suspension due to darkness after four innings, with the teams agreeing to resume the game as part of a doubleheader last Wednesday at Moose Park.
As it turned out, the weather wasn’t much better this time, but the matchup was worth waiting for.
Trailing by a run heading into the home half of the seventh, the Hubbers tied the score to send the game into extra innings and staved off defeat again in the eighth before pulling out a thrilling 11-10, 11-inning victory. The Gators recovered to take the second game by a 7-5 score, a win which secured the No. 4 seed and the final bye in this week’s District 9 playoffs.
After Port took an 8-7 lead in the top of the seventh on Seth Lowery’s steal of home and Bryce Healy’s RBI single to bring in Camrin Stuckey, Smethport manufactured their game-tying run without a hit. Jarrod Hughes drew a leadoff walk, moved up on a throwing error, and came in to score on Scott Stratton’s grounder to short. The Gators made another bid to win it in the eighth, using four consecutive singles by Chad Barnard, Lowery, Stuckey, and Healy to take a 10-8 lead, but again, the Hubs rallied to tie on Kyle Doutt’s sacrifice fly to right field.
“These kids never quit. They’ve been doing it for me all year,” Smethport coach Rick Austin said afterward.
It was his team’s turn to threaten in the ninth, loading the bases before Gators shortstop Mark Larson recorded the final out of the inning. Smethport finally ended the stalemate in the bottom of the 11th, when Stratton’s bloop single dropped into short right field, sending Al Myers home with the winning run. Doutt recorded the complete-game victory, striking out seven and walking nine, while Stuckey took his first loss of the season despite hurling 14 strikeouts.
“There were definitely some opportunities I’d like to get back,” Port coach Nate Zitnik said, “but that’s kind of the way it works out sometimes.”
The nightcap began with a steady wind continuing to blow in from left field, stirring up the infield dirt and making fly balls an adventure. Sophomore Brock Bricker took the mound for the Gators and Doutt returned for Smethport, although the length of the first game would force the Hubbers ace to leave after facing the first eight batters.
The two teams battled through three scoreless innings before the Gators broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth, sending 10 men to the plate and putting five runs on the board. Larson reached first after being hit by a pitch, moved over on Lucas Kline’s well-executed sacrifice bunt, and scored on Guerrero’s single to center field. Following a walk to Barnard, Bricker helped his own cause by driving a single to left, bringing in pinch-runner Charlie Buchanan. The big inning continued as Garrett Kio’s grounder plated Barnard, and Kio and pinch-runner Ryan Bodamer completed the scoring on Stuckey’s fly ball that dropped in front of the Hubbers center fielder.
The Hubs countered with four of their own in the top of the fifth, but Barnard’s two-run single to left in the bottom of the inning gave the Gators a 7-4 cushion. With daylight fading, Smethport made one last stand in the sixth, loading the bases with no outs and pushing across another run. But with two down, J.D. Haskins on in relief, and the potential go-ahead run at first, Larson corralled Doutt’s grounder to short and fired a strike to Kline at first for the final out.
As darkness fell, both coaches were happy to come away with a win.
“Any time you go into a doubleheader situation, you try to get the split,” Zitnick said.
“I’m not disappointed. A couple of things didn’t go our way, but it was two great games, and the crowd didn’t have to pay to get in. Best money they ever spent,” Austin said before concluding, “Port Allegany’s a nice ball team. We measure ourselves against teams like this.”
Locked into the No. 4 seed, the Gators (12-4) picked up a win without throwing a single pitch on Friday, as Johnsonburg opted to forfeit their game. The two teams may end up playing after all, though, as the Rams (13-5) and their star player, Ohio University-bound Seth Streich, were scheduled to host DuBois Central Catholic (6-11) in an opening-round playoff game on Tuesday, May 19, with the winner advancing to visit Port Allegany at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Several other local teams are also participating in the playoffs, with Oswayo Valley at Smethport on Tuesday for their third meeting of the season, and third-seeded Coudersport awaiting the winner of the Curwensville-Brockway matchup for a Thursday-afternoon game.
At Port Allegany, 5/13:
Stuckey (14 SO, 6 BB) and Guerrero
Doutt (7 SO, 9 BB) and Derek Kreitzer
HR: Larson (P), Preston Birtcil (S), Kreitzer (S)
Doutt (4 SO), Jory Okerlund (3)(5 SO, 3 BB) and Kreitzer
Bricker (3 SO, 2 BB), Haskins (6)(1 SO, 1 BB), and Guerrero
(game called after six innings on account of darkness)