Austin Denlinger hit a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game before doubling and scoring the eventual game-winning run in a 5-2 victory over SWS.
Cole Patrick stifled the SWS lineup as he struck out nine batters over 7@-E innings, on Wednesday, July 5. He walked one, allowed six hits and two runs (one earned).
Twelve of the first 13 Bears Blue batters were retired and SWS used three pitchers to get through the first four innings of the game.
The rapid pitching changes served as a double-edged sword in coach Bill Templin’s view.
“We never get to see a pitcher twice, but they don’t ever get any kind of rhythm on the mound,” Templin said.
Patrick found himself in a jam in the bottom of the third inning. He allowed a single after a strikeout, but that runner was caught stealing by catcher Hunter Murry. Leadoff man Kris Pirozzi singled before Joe Meck sent one toward deep center field.
Anthony Funk raced back, but the ball bounced off his glove and fell to the ground for a triple. Bears Blue attempted to tag Meck out at third, but the ball bounced over the fence which sent Meck home to make it 2-0, SWS.
Neither team was able to score in the fifth inning, but Bears Blue did get a runner to second base for the first time.
Third baseman Cole Livingston reached first base on an error by the SWS shortstop which meant that the tying run would be at the plate.
Denlinger, the No. 3 hitter, was up with one out and he snuck the ball inside the fair pole and over the 325 sign in left field. Templin let out a scream and pumped his fists as he waited to celebrate with Denlinger as he rounded third.
“When he hit it I thought, ‘Oh, that’s got a chance,’ and the left fielder stopped running because he knew it was gone. He is the leader of the team and in a pressure situation there is nobody I’d rather have at the plate than him,” Templin said.
As the tying run, Denlinger said it can be difficult to not think about hitting a home run in that situation.
“That is always in the back of your mind whether you want to hit a home run, tie the game up and be the hero, but I was just looking for a line drive in the gap to get runners over. I know I have guys behind me that can hit. I was willing to do anything to get on base,” Denlinger said.
Bears Blue was able to threaten later in the inning as well. Nick Kreider drew a walk and Kyle Welch singled on an 0-2 pitch. Both runners advanced one base after the SWS pitcher balked. A strikeout and groundout eventually ended the productive sixth inning.
After keeping the team within striking distance, Patrick took the mound with the game tied and wasted no time getting the Bears Blue batters back up to bat. He retired the top three in the SWS lineup in order.
Bears Blue did manage to put a runner on second in the top of the 7th, but weren’t able to score a decisive run.
Heading into the bottom of the 7th inning, Templin called Kreider over to ask if he could play left field. He responded in the affirmative and took his position in the field.
With runners on first and second with two out, Hunter Cunningham of SWS lofted a ball into no man’s land in left-center field. Kreider and Funk both went after the ball, Funk fell to the ground and the SWS coach Scott Eckman was sending both runners home. Kreider, however, swooped in at the very last second to make a running catch. The inning was over the game was still tied.
Denlinger started the 8th inning with a double down the right field line. Welch reached first base on a dropped third strike. With two outs, Kevin Gamber was hit with a pitch to load the bases.
The timing could not have been any better for Patrick as he was the next man up. He drew a walk on four pitches to break the tie. Michael Baker doubled one at-bat later to bring in two more to make it 5-2, Bears Blue.
Patrick got the first two in the inning before Templin turned to Kreider for the final out, which he was able to do.
The effort that he received from his young right-hander on the mound was worthy of high praise.
“He pitched his tail off. He’s a great pitcher. He’s completely unflappable. I’ve never seen him get angry or happy. He’s just stoic and has a job to do,” Templin said.
Patrick felt as if all of the pitches in his repertoire were working well, it was just a matter of keeping the game close.
“I know I have a good defense behind me which allows me to pitch to contact. It meant a lot to be able to pitch into the 8th inning and get the win for my team,” Patrick said.
The victory moved Bears Blue to 7-2 and dropped SWS to 6-4.
“That was a good win. They do a good job down here [Lampeter-Strasburg]. Each pitcher that came in threw well. It’s a big win for us,” Templin said.