SELINSGROVE — Orwigsburg’s Major Division All-Stars didn’t get many hits in their must-win game Tuesday against Warrior Run in the Section 3 final at East Snyder Park.
In fact, the team from Schuylkill County managed just four in the contest. Still, Aidan Grace’s two-run single with two outs in the third inning proved to be the most important of Orwigsburg’s season.
Grace’s hit gave Orwigsburg a five-run lead, just enough cushion to hold off a Warrior Run rally for a 6-5 win to force a winner-take-all game tonight at 5:30 p.m. back at DeWire Field.
“If we had come out of the third with just a 3-1 lead, I think that would have been a back-breaker for us,” Orwigsburg manager Aaron Barnes said. “Yeah, we have the lead, but that would have been an emotional letdown not to get more (runs) out of that.”
“Hat’s off to Orwigsburg,” Warrior Run manager Derrick Zechman said. “They wanted it a little more than us.”
After a nearly 50-minute rain delay before the game started, Orwigsburg took an early 1-0 lead on Hunter Blankenhorn’s RBI double in the second.
Warrior Run answered after Cooper Wilkins doubled with two outs. A James Keifer single put runners on the corners before Gabe Engel tied the game with an RBI single.
Patience at the plate had been key for Orwigsburg in its rally through the elimination bracket. After receiving 10 walks in a win over Keystone on Monday, Warrior Run pitchers walked nine in the first three innings of the game, leading to a five-run outburst for Orwigsburg.
“We’ve been preaching to the kids to take advantage of the free bases if they give them too you,” Barnes said.
A walk and an error to open the Orwigsburg third led to Engel entering the game in relief. Consecutive bases-loaded walks made it 3-1. Engel then struck out the next two before another bases-loaded walk made it 4-1. Glace followed with his two-run single, and Orwigsburg led 6-1.
“Walks, errors — they come back to haunt you,” Zechman said.
Meanwhile, Warrior Run hit a lot of balls hard off Orwigsburg pitchers Cole Yelnick and Sam Walborn, but most either went right to fielders or Orwigsburg’s defense made a spectacular play. The best play was made on Warrior Run’s Cohen Zechman in the second. He ripped a hard shot into the hole between short and third, but Orwigsburg shortstop Ty Kaunas made a back-handed stop deep in the hole, then got some help from first baseman Ethan Frantz, who made a great scoop of Kaunas’ throw.
“Fantastic effort out of our pitchers; we had no idea what to expect from them,” Barnes said. “They threw strikes, and we made the plays in the field.”
“Their pitchers didn’t throw that hard, but it kept us off-balance,” Derrick Zechman said. “We hit a lot of balls right at them and they made the plays they had to make.”
Warrior Run rallied in the fourth. Cohen Zechman doubled and Wilkins singled to put runners at the corners, which chased Yelnick. Walborn walked the first hitter he faced to load the bases, before Avery Reiff singled in two runs to pull Warrior Run within 6-3.
After a single loaded the bases, Walborn got the next two hitters. Brayden Gower singled home two more runs to make it 6-5. The inning when Gower was caught stealing.
Landon Polcyn would single in the fifth, and Reiff — in the game as a special pinch runner — took second on a wild pitch. Walborn retired the final six hitters in order to end the game.
SECTION 3 TOURNAMENT
at DeWire Field
East Snyder Park, Selinsgrove
ORWIGSBURG 6, WARRIOR RUN 5
Orwigsburg`015`000 — 6-4-0
Warrior Run`010`400 — 5-10-2
Cole Yelnick, Sam Walborn (4) and Hunter Blakenhorn. Landon Polcyn, Gabe Engel (3) and Engel, Griffen Harrington (3).
WP: Yelnick; LP: Polcyn.
Orwigsburg: Aidan Glace 2-for-4, 2 RBIs; Blakenhorn 1-for-3, double, RBI.
Warrior Run: Brayden Gower 2-for-3, 2 RBIs; Cohen Zechman 1-for-3, double, run; Wilkins 2-for-3, double, 2 runs; Avery Reiff 1-for-1, 2 RBIs.