---- — By Eric Shultz
For The Daily Item
BERWICK -- After rain had already stopped play in the top of the first inning for nearly two hours, it looked like Danville and South Columbia's Area I Major division contest might require even more time to complete.
A clutch hit and a close call at the plate prevented extra innings, though, and Danville came out on top with a 7-6 victory Monday night.
The loss sends South Columbia to the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
With the game tied at 6-6 in the sixth inning, Danville's Coleman Cush took his second walk of the night and eventually advanced to second base on a passed ball. The following two batters struck out, putting Cody Kizis in a key spot when he stepped to the plate.
Kizis, who started at pitcher and saw South Columbia take a 4-0 lead early in the second inning, drove a pitch into center field. The hit was deep enough to send Cush around third, but he was behind the throw to the plate.
Catcher Isaac Gensemer lost the ball on the tag, though, and was ruled to have obstructed the plate in the process of retrieving the ball to tag Cush a second time.
South Columbia manager Chris Stametedes said he did not have a good angle on the play, so it was not clear to him what happened. But he said he told his team that the play, or any other single play, was to blame for the loss.
"Every little mistake can add up...The game's a whole series of events that leads up to some result," Stametedes said. "So everybody plays a part -- that's why you win as a team, that's why you lose as a team."
With Cush's run counting, Preston Fausnaught hit another shot to center. But the throw home was on time again and Gensemer held on to tag Kisis out.
The damage was done, though, and South Columbia failed to complete a rally on its final three runs. Shane Kozick struck out the final two batters to strand runners on first and second, and Kisis' hit proved to be the winner after South Columbia took the early lead on him.
"Cody battled," said Danville manager Chris Persing. "He didn't have his best stuff on the mound, but it's like we tell them, you never know when it's going to be your turn. It was his turn at the plate today."
The game-winning run by Cush capped off a comeback by Danville, which had only three batters reach base in the first two frames.
Down 6-2 in the fourth inning, Danville's batters got on base in six consecutive plate appearances to erase the deficit.
"They started getting a lot of confidence. They do know it's a six-inning game, they understand that," Persing said. "They try not to get too high or too low. And they just kept battling...great effort on their part."
Meanwhile, South Columbia's bats cooled off, and the team did not score a run after the third inning.
In the fourth inning South Columbia had the bases loaded with one out, but a strikeout and ground out ended the scoring opportunity.