One is the reigning champion. The other is trying to get back there. And these television-bound teams always seem to make it exciting -- even when nobody wins the game.
A play at the plate punctuated a doubleheader Sunday between the DM Palmisano Sanitation Rangers and Gabelsville Owls at Cedar Brooke Park in Tri-County Black & Blue Division action in the Lehigh Valley Men’s Baseball League Game of the Week.
With darkness closing in, the field-and-fire double play ended a back-and-forth Game 2 in dramatic fashion – albeit also in a draw. While tying in the twilight isn’t the scenario that players dream of in the backyards of childhood, at least the television lights will be bright the next time these teams meet.
Fans will hope for more dramatics – and maybe even a winner, too -- when the 2015 Champion Rangers take on the 2016 Champion Owls in a televised game on June 23. The matchup at the renewed Sam Balliet Stadium in Coplay, Pa., will be broadcast on RCN-TV.
“Always a tough series against that squad. We enjoy playing Gabelsville. They always come to play and are class acts,” Rangers Manager-Player Jason Gonzalez said.
Howelling at the Moon
With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh and final inning of Game 2, Gabelsville loaded the bases with one out. The Rangers played the infielders and outfielders in, hoping to cut down the potential game-winning run.
It worked. Gabelsville lifted a ball toward Rangers right fielder Eric Howell, who got under it for the second out. The runner tagged from third, Howell fired home, and the catcher applied the tag.
And that was it. With daylight fading, the umpires called the game as regulation ended.
Juggernauts Trading Blows
Before that, it was a back-and-forth affair. The Rangers got out to a 1-0 lead, the Owls scored the next four runs, and the top of the seventh had some dramatics, too.
After the Rangers loaded the bases, a wild pitch scored Cam Kichline, who had reached on an error. Daron Whitmore's 2-run single drove in Howell, who had walked, and Danny DeLeon, who had singled. The three-run inning knotted the game.
The Rangers almost gave it right back. But then the ball found Howell, whose catch and throw preserved the draw.
Leave Them Wanting Whitmore
The wild seventh-inning of Game 2 allowed the Rangers to win the nail-biting doubleheader. The Rangers won Game 1 by a score of 6-5.
With help from Marc Fish’s double and 2 RBI, the Rangers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning. The teams traded one run each before Gabelsville rallied to tie it with a four-run fourth inning.
The Rangers took the lead right back with one run in the 5th, and Whitmore, pitching in relief, made it hold up. Whitmore threw three shutout innings to earn the win.
“Whitmore throwing goose eggs in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings is crucial in taking Game 1,” said the Manager-Player Gonzalez, who pointed to Fish’s Game 1 double and Whitmore’s Game 2 two-run single as game changing at-bats. “I see the guys not giving away ABs. As a manager that is all you can ask for.”