By Anthony Mitchell
The Daily Item
Isaiah Rapp just needed a few runs and some dirt to fly up to change his fate.
The only problem was that Selinsgrove was having trouble solving the puzzle that was the left arm of Southern Columbia pitcher John Wilson.
The first time Wilson worked through the Seals’ lineup, Selinsgrove was left trying to decipher an image with the wrong pieces.
But one inning changed that as Selinsgrove beat Southern Columbia, 3-1, in a Heartland Athletic Conference crossover game Monday.
Through the first three innings, Selinsgrove had sent nine hitters to the plate against Wilson and those same nine in order had walked back to the dugout with a bat in their hands. Wilson was perfect through three innings and retired the first hitter he saw in the fourth to run his streak to 10 straight hitters retired.
However, Austin Benner didn’t spend time staring at a few pitches and trying to work a walk.
On the second pitch that he saw, Benner roped a double to the wall in left-field for the Seals’ first hit. Seemingly with the right pieces in hand, Selinsgrove wasted no time putting a winning picture together.
Benner advanced to third on a pitch that rolled to the backstop and Aidan Greak ripped a single to right to bring Benner home and tie the game at 1.
Greak bolted for second base and slid in safely despite a pickoff attempt trying to catch him in the act. After a groundout, Greak scored on an error to give the Seals a one-run lead.
Pitching with a lead for the first time in the game, Rapp went to the mound for the fifth and started duplicating the flawless pitching that Wilson had began the game with.
“I felt good today,” Rapp said. “(I threw) a lot of first-pitch strikes, which helps and eventually we hit the ball to get on top of (Southern Columbia).”
Facing the Tigers’ top of the lineup, which had torched opposing pitching this season, Rapp retired them 1-2-3, reducing Southern Columbia to a pair of groundouts and a popup a few feet off of the infield dirt.
Rapp went the distance for the Seals, striking out a pair and scattering five hits.
The Seals gave Rapp an extra run of support in the bottom of the fifth with the bottom of their order providing a two-out spark.
“(Rapp) did a great job,” Seals coach Brent Beiler said. “(He) kept the guys off the pace, off-balance. (He) really struck the lower half of the strike zone.”
Changing locations and speeds on his pitches, Rapp kept the Tigers from making consistent contact.
Jake Nylund doubled to center and after Ben Kuhns entered as a courtesy runner, Kuhns hustled around the bases on a bobbled ground ball. Kuhns slid home safely and Ryan reached at first to push the Seals’ lead to 3-1.
Rapp set the Tigers down in order in the sixth and worked around a one-out single in the seventh, with Colton Brouse showing steady hands to record the final two outs to seal the win.