DANVILLE — No one suggested Selinsgrove conjured its state championship magic Tuesday.
However, the facts are Post 25 won an American Legion playoff game it had no business winning, and several key players from the high school title team made it happen.
Blaise Zeiders hit a tying two-run home run in the sixth inning; Ryan Reed drilled the go-ahead RBI in the ninth; and Logan Hile pitched five innings of scoreless relief as Selinsgrove edged Danville, 4-3, in a Susquehanna Valley League tournament game.
Danville stranded 14 baserunners, 11 in scoring position. Hile was responsible for leaving nine on base, seven in scoring position. He kept a runner at third base in each of the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth innings.
"High school playoffs were stressful enough," said Hile, who was 8-2 with an 0.80 ERA during the prep season. "I didn't think Legion could be this much stress."
Selinsgrove (6-7) overcame a terrific outing by Post 40 right-hander Alex Robenolt, who allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits, struck out 12 and walked one in seven innings.
"He pitched very well. He really did," said Albertson. "That's baseball, I guess."
Robenolt pulled a Houdini of his own in the fourth inning. A leadoff error put a runner on base ahead of Zeiders' slicing double to the left-field corner. The relay from Ronnie Zsido to shortstop Elijah Hoffman to Brandon Heim cut down a run at the plate while Zeiders hustled to third. Robenolt then fanned the next two batters, and his RBI double in the bottom of the inning put Danville up 3-1.
Robenolt carried a one-hitter into the sixth. He was one out away from a fourth consecutive shutout inning when the throw on a grounder to the right side of the infield was dropped at first base, allowing Michael Beaver to reach. Zeiders cranked the next pitch over the fence in right-center field to tie the score.
"Honestly, that (error) was huge," said Zeiders. "Knowing that Beaver was going to be on first, they were going to have to throw to me ... so I was excited for that."
"That (error) was the key right there," said Albertson. "No question about it."
The inning before, Zeiders was taken off the mound after the home fifth opened with a walk and a single. Hile worked out of the jam despite a two-out walk that loaded the bases. Zeiders said he didn't talk to anyone when he returned to the dugout at inning's end.
"I was just frustrated with how the game was going. So, honestly, in that (sixth-inning) at-bat I took the anger with me," he said. "I went out there thinking, 'This first swing I'm just going look for a fastball and try to drive it, (and) there it was.'
"I swung and I'm like, 'No way!'"
The line-drive homer gave Selinsgrove new life, but it didn't discourage Danville. The hosts were aggressive on the basepaths following the first-inning ejection of Selinsgrove catcher Wyatt Metzger, stealing 11 bags overall including four double-steals. They pulled a double-steal after consecutive one-out walks in the sixth, but Hile shut down the rally to start a string of seven consecutive outs.
"I haven't picked up a ball in a couple weeks — at least since the high school season — and I don't think I had my command as best as I have," said Hile, who struck out eight and walked three. "I just had to fight as hard as I could to find the (strike) zone. I struggled at first, but I thought I found it more in the later innings."
Hile shrugged off a two-out error in the eighth that put two runners in scoring position. Reed's two-out single made it 4-3 into the bottom of the ninth when Hile started a successful rundown on a comebacker when Danville had the tying run at third base.
"I think it was definitely a game-saver," said Hile. "I saw him halfway down the basepath and I knew he had a good chance of breaking for home, so I knew I had to throw it there instead of worrying about the guy going to first."
"Logan came into the game saying, 'Keep me around 70 (pitches),'" said Selinsgrove manager Bryan Mohr. "I looked at him after we scored (in the ninth) and said, 'Are you good?' He goes, 'I'm good.' It speaks to his ability as a gamer. He hasn't thrown much for us, but he picked it right back up where he left off (in high school)."
Selinsgrove plays at Bloomsburg today at 5:30 p.m. Danville plays the loser of today's game between Berwick and Shamokin/Mount Carmel on Thursday.
SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY AMERICAN LEGION LEAGUE
Selinsgrove 4, Danville 3 (9 innings)
Selinsgrove`010`002`001 — 4-4-2
Danville`011`100`000 — 3-9-3
Blaise Zeiders, Logan Hile (5) and Wyatt Metzger, Carter Horten (1). Alex Robenolt, Jacob Petro (8), C.J. Outt (9) and Brandon Heim.
WP: Hile. LP: Outt.
Selinsgrove: Michael Beaver 2 runs; Zeiders 2-for-3, home run (6th, 1 on), double, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Randy Richter 1-for-4, RBI; Ryan Reed 1-for-4, RBI.
Danville: Robenolt 2-for-4, double, RBI; Elijah Hoffman 1-for-4, run; Jacob Petro 3-for-3, run; Brycen Heimbach 1-for-5; C.J. Outt 1-for-4, RBI; Ronnie Zsido 1-for-4, run.