Dana Schrodel hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning to break a tie and give visiting Walkersville a 12-8 win over Francis Scott Key yesterday in Uniontown.
The game featured a little bit of everything. The teams combined for 27 hits, seven errors, a disputed home run, a balk that scored a run, two runners thrown out at the plate and four lead changes.
It was only appropriate that Key's Jon Crooks hit a clutch, two-out bloop single in the bottom of the seventh to score Dale Bloom and force extra innings.
And as darkness fast approached with one out and the bases full in the ninth, Schrodel made no mistake in driving a Kyle Stephenson pitch wellover the left-field fence.
"I'd much rather lose on a grand slam than a one-run bleeder up the middle," said Key coach Bob Caples.
"Schrodel's a good ballplayer and made no mistake with that one. Walkersville has a great ballclub, and we were right there with them. It was a playoff-type game, just great high school baseball."
Walkersville (9-3) used four pitchers, with Kevin Driscoll closing it out by retiring all seven batters he faced to get the win.
Trailing 4-3 in the third, Key (4-6) scored three times to take a 6-4 lead. Dave Ruskey and Matt Haines each had run-scoring singles and Joe Brooks -- who reached on a walk --scored on a balk by Walkersville's second pitcher, Brandon Edlefson.
Walkersville got one back in the fifth on Schrodel's RBI double. Shawn Dewees, who singled in the previous at-bat, was thrown out at the plate on the play by Key second baseman Dave Johnson.
After Walkersville tied it with a run in the top of the fifth, Ruskey hit a controversial opposite-field homer to right-center. The Walkersville outfielder claimed the ball took a hop first and should have been ruled a ground-rule double. But after pausing a bit at second, Ruskey continued around the bases until the umpire twirled his finger to signal a home run.
The homer gave the Eagles a short-lived 7-6 lead, as Walkersville answered with two runs in the top of the sixth. Designated hitter RichBest hit a one-out single that scored two runners who had reached on Key infield errors.
Key ace Jason Smith struggled at times, but battled for seven tough innings before being relieved by Stephenson, who gave ** up Schrodel's slam. The Eagles have been getting strong pitching all season long -- particularly from Smith -- but the offense has struggled.
"It was kind of ironic. Jason didn't have his best stuff with him today, but he stayed tough and I was real proud of him. It was just one of those days where he didn't find his groove," Caples said.
"But that's two games in a row now where we've been hitting the ball. We're 4-6 right now in a tough league [Monocacy Valley Athletic]; it's kind of deceiving with all the one-run losses we've had."