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Athletics rally past Phillies in city tournament

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

The old baseball and sports adage is that ‘It’s not over til it’s over.”

A perfect example of that was Friday night in an opening-round game of the 2019 New Castle Minor League Player Pitch City Tournament.

The GEO Phillies had led throughout the game, but the PCE Insurance Athletics scored eight runs in the top of the sixth inning to overcome a 7-0 deficit and win the game.

Thus, it was the Athletics who advanced to the scheduled Monday night second round tournament game at the city baseball diamond complex.

Players at this level of youth baseball are ages 8-11, with pitch counts for pitchers relative to their ages as the older kids are able to throw a few more pitches.

For this tournament, the sixth and final inning of play allows unlimited runs to be scored, as opposed to the five-run limit for each inning during every other inning. This special rule would be a critical factor in allowing this game to take the dramatic turn late.

Brody Jarvis was the starting pitcher for the Phillies and Kaeson Amman started for the Athletics. Neither team scored until the Phillies broke loose in the bottom of the second inning to score four times.

Cadyn Contreras singled to start the inning, and advanced two bases on wild pitches. A single by Collin Denton brought in the game’s first run. After advancing on a passed ball and ground out, Denton crossed the plate on a single from Dean Anderson.

A couple of Athletics errors contributed to the last two runs for a 4-0 lead for the Phillies. But a fifth run could have scored, as two runners were on base when the last two hitters of the inning fanned.

In the third, the Phillies added one more tally.

A walk, two wild pitches, then another error allowed a fifth run to cross.

After three shutout innings, and to preserve pitches, Brody Sullivan replaced Jarvis on the mound for the Phillies in the top of the fourth inning, and the Athletics again failed to score in the top of the fourth and fifth innings.

In the last of the fourth and fifth innings, the Phillies added a single run in each at-bat, pushing the advantage to 7-0.

In the fourth, Lazero Toto had a leadoff single, moved up on the bases on a pair of wild pitches, then scored on a ground out off the bat Jonus Stansbury. Dennis Cobb took to the pitching mound for the Athletics in the bottom of the fourth inning and would finish the game in that position.

For the Phillies in the fifth, Anderson led off the at-bat with a walk, and after moving up on a wild pitch, he scored the team’s final run on a single from Jarvis.

Sullivan started the top of the sixth still pitching for the Phillies. Leighton Hamm began the at-bat by drawing a base on balls, then advanced two bases on wild pitches. But Sullivan fanned the next two batters, putting the Phillies one out away from advancement.

Then, everything changed.

Xavier Bennett reached on an error, with Hamm scoring for the first run of the game for the Athletics. Bennett ended up on second base, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Amman then was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and third base, with two outs, and the score still 7-1, Phillies.

A wild pitch allowed Amman to take second, and then wildness from three different Phillie hurlers cost the team dearly.

The next six hitters would draw walks in Crissy Murray, Cobb, Isaac Nunn, Jailden Johnson, Blake Haines and Karter Johnson. The last five bases on balls each brought in a run, making a 7-1 lead suddenly a razor thin 7-6, leaving the bases still loaded, and still two outs.

That brought the inning’s first hitter back to the plate in Hamm, and the left-handed bat got the biggest hit of the game, driving a fly ball just over the right fielder’s head, bringing in the tying and go-ahead runs, although the Phillies did get the ball back to the catcher to tag out another base runner.

But the scoreboard read 8-7, Athletics, and the Phillies then came to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning to try to stay alive in the game and the city tournament.

With one out in the bottom of the inning, Contreras singled for his second hit of the night, and reached base for the third straight time in the game. A wild pitch moved Contreras to second base, but then a strikeout made it two outs for the Phillies.

Toto then popped up a pitch just to the right of the pitching mound, and as the third baseman and pitcher Cobb converged on the ball, Cobb gloved the ball as he tumbled over his fielding teammate as the potential tying run crossed the plate.

Cobb held on to the ball despite falling down, and the Athletics had prevailed with a 8-7 win.

The manager of the Athletics, Jake Roseberry, spoke with his happy charges after the game.

“This is certainly not the way you want to win a game, but a win is a win, especially in a tournament,” Roseberry said. “The boys didn’t get down when they got behind, they kept playing, and took advantage of their chance when it came. We get to keep playing.”

The Athletics were scheduled to play the Tigers in the next round, with a scheduled Monday night game, weather permitting.

The other two members of the team not previously mentioned in this story are Corbin Murray and Logan Wiliams.

It was a very good winning season for the Phillies, who were led by Manager Aaron Duncan. Phillies team members not previously mentioned in this story are Isaiah Dobbs, Lucas Anderson and Ike Johnson.

There are a total of six teams in this New Castle Minor League organization, and the semifinals of the tournament were Monday night, weather permitting.