By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
MILTON -- Mark Artley had promised a game-winning hit before he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning, according to Milton manager Dave Byers.
Artley was a day late with his promise but held true to his word, hitting a bases-loaded RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to give Milton a 3-2 win over Lewisburg in an American Legion playoff game.
"I tell (my players) this all the time, when we win a ball game, it's because of you, when we lose a ball game, it's because of me. What do I do with a tie?" Byers said. (Lewisburg's) top (of the order) didn't come through in the 11th and ours did."
Artley flew out to right field on Tuesday to end the ninth in what proved to be the final pitch of the day as the game was halted due to darkness. When the game resumed, Artley had a different plan in mind after working three walks off of Lewisburg (8-11) pitching on Tuesday.
Artley watched two pitches out of the zone from Joey Gardner and took a strike with the infield in. On the 2-1 offering, he laced a sharp grounder past a diving Michael Cooper at first and into right field for the win.
"Basically, I wanted to make sure I got in a good hitter's count, so I was taking a strike there at the end," Artley said.
Artley found himself in the batter's box with the bases loaded as a result of patience by the hitters in front of him. Cody Shaffer led off the inning with a single to put the winning run on base.
On the play, Shaffer broke his bat in two on the swing but the ball bounced slowly to first base. The barrel went flying halfway up the first-base line as Shaffer sprinted toward first. Shaffer beat out a short throw to first on a bang-bang play.
Brandon Stokes worked a walk and Tyler Moyer took a pitch off of his arm to load the bases. With the count 3-2 on Moyer, Shaffer was nearly caught dead to rights as he had wandered off of second base. Shaffer dived back under the tag, keeping the momentum in Milton's favor.
Before he ended the game with a clutch hit, Artley reared back on the mound for Milton (13-6), throwing two scoreless frames after taking over for Cody Shaffer when the game resumed to earn the victory. Shaffer unofficially tossed 169 pitches over nine innings yesterday, and Artley seemed poised to take over right where Shaffer had left off.
Artley worked his way out of a lead-off single in the top of the 10th with three straight outs. After plunking Gardner in the helmet with a pitch high and tight in the 11th, Artley kept his composure to pull out of the frame.
Milton now plays Montgomery while Lewisburg travels to Hughesville; both of those games are today at 5:30.