By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG -- Andrew Leitzel made fans on both sides of the diamond catch their breath with the way he played a routine comebacker Wednesday.
The Mifflinburg side feared their junior righty's decision would ruin his shutout bid and add to Danville's momentum; the Ironmen faithful hoped it was the break they desperately needed.
To Leitzel, it wasn't worth all the fuss. It was hardly a bump on his road to a two-hitter in the Wildcats' 5-0 win in a Heartland-I game.
"I think Andrew has so much confidence in what he does that nothing wavers him," said Mifflinburg coach Tom Church. "He knows he's going to throw the ball around the plate and he knows the defense behind him is going to make the plays. We played real big behind Andrew (on Wednesday)."
Leitzel had pitched more than four scoreless innings when a walk and a couple of misplays filled the bases for Danville with one down in the fifth.
When he fielded Garrett Krum's grounder to the mound, Leitzel had a tailor-made chance for an inning-ending (and shutout-preserving) double play. Instead of starting it with an easy force out at the plate, however, he wheeled and threw to second base. Fortunately for Leitzel and the Wildcats, shortstop Brady Lloyd was on the same page and managed to turn a slick 1-6-3 double play.
Inning over. Shutout intact. Breathing resumed.
"It was just instinct, throwing to second," Leitzel explained later. "I should have went to home, though. It wasn't the right thing."
That was as close as Leitzel came to losing his shutout -- that and a tough ground ball with two on and two outs in the fourth that Lloyd turned into a gold-star play.