Travis Fisher was running out of arms, but he found one more good one.
Jean Turber had not started a game all season, not even in high school for Shikellamy. But Monday evening in a Susquehanna Valley Division American Legion game, Turber took the ball and ran with it, and ran with it.
Turber threw nine innings worth of four-hit baseball and his Sunbury/Northumberland teammates rallied from a two-run deficit and edged Shamokin/Mount Carmel 5-3 at Bunker Hill Field.
“He pitched nine strong innings, and later in the game his curveball was working better,” said Fisher, the manager who was without pitcher Ryan Kenney because of a family emergency.
“So I am very pleased.”
“My coach put his trust in me and I went out there and did the best I can,” said Turber, who struck out five and walked four.
Despite pitching well he was trailing into the seventh. But he wasn’t worried.
“We just didn’t have any balls falling for us but I knew if we kept at it, grinding it out, balls will start falling and hits will start coming and we will pull across a run or two,” Turber said.
Turber seemed to be on to something.
Sunbury/Northumberland scored twice in the top of the ninth as the bottom third of the order came through. Tyler Dzwonchyk stroked a one-out single to left and scored on a double off the left-field fence by Matt Snyder. Logan Kern followed with a sacrifice fly.
In a well-played defensive game by both sides, the home team took a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning. Logan Mirolli reached on an error and moved to second on Austin Joraskie’s sacrifice bunt. Mike Pupo singled him home, took second on the throw to the plate and scored on a single by Josiah Miller.
The visitors (7-3) got out of further trouble when Paul Gurba lined out to third baseman Blake Bettleyon, who doubled off the runner at second.
From there, Turber got into a rhythm and retired eight straight batters before Shamokin/Mount Carmel (3-5-1) threatened again in the eighth. With one out, Miller was hit by a pitch. Gurba bunted him to second and reached on a throwing error. Austin Fry was intentionally walked to load the bases, but Turber closed the door with a pop-up to second base and a swinging strikeout.
His team rewarded him by rallying for two runs in the home seventh to extend the game and help him pick up a win.
Sunbury/Northumberland, down to its last chance, sandwiched two walks around a strikeout, then added a hit batsman. Despite getting two runners thrown out in the inning, the winners got back-to-back singles by Kern and Jordan Garinger to tie the game at 3-all.
Fisher said, “That’s what this team needs to do, have the bottom of the order come through and score runs for us and they did.”
Fisher sent Turber back out in the ninth and he made his manager look good.
After walking leadoff batter Zach Tocyloski, who stole second, Turber struck out the next batter looking, got the second out on a running catch of a foul pop-up near the fence by shortstop Nick Dunn and a foul-out to first baseman Dzwonchyk.
Of Dunn’s catch, Turber said, “That was a huge out. It made me a lot more relieved. As soon as I saw the ball go up and Nick sprinting, I was like ‘OK, he got it.’’’
Dunn had moved to shortstop that inning after starting at first.
Turber said, “When I hit the batter, it was a curveball that just slipped out of my hand, but I was listening to coach (Don) Leitzel saying to stay calm and keep throwing strikes and that’s exactly what I did.”
Sunbury/Northumberland had managed just two hits off starting left-hander Tyler Thompson.
“We’ve been struggling with lefties. That’s the third time this year,” Fisher said. “We couldn’t get the big hit, we were popping up in the infield with the meat of our order. But we came through with some solid hits when we needed them. Matty Snyder’s double off the fence was huge, and Kern’s single in the seventh was big.”
Shamokin/Mount Carmel struck first with a run in the second. Bret Williams singled and later scored on a throwing error after a hit-and-run single by Tocyloski.
The visitors tied it in the third. Colby Lahr led off with a walk, took second on a balk and scored on a Dunn single.
Shamokin/Mount Carmel coach Rob Sopko, although disappointed with the loss, said he was glad to see his young team come back and play well after losing its previous game 9-0.
Travis Fisher was running out of arms, but he found one more good one.
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