NEW PARIS - Bedford coach Scott Waugerman knew that staging a defense of the District 5 Class AA baseball championship would be a demanding task for his team against top-seeded Everett.
"They're a quality team, and we expected it to be a nail-biter,'' Waugerman said Wednesday night.
That was an understatement. Bedford prevailed, 3-2 in a game that took nine innings, featured an epic pitcher's duel, and all the excitement that one could ask for a contest with such high stakes.
The game had started last Thursday on the Chestnut Ridge High School baseball field, and, after two delays because of lightning, was suspended after three innings with the score tied, 1-1. It resumed there Wednesday under sun-splashed, blue skies, and ended when Bedford (8-8) pushed across an unearned run in the top of the ninth inning to secure its second consecutive District 5-AA title.
The win advanced Bedford into next Monday afternoon's PIAA Class AA first-round playoff matchup against District 7 runner-up Waynesburg. That game is tentatively set for Shanksville at 4:30 p.m.
Bedford junior righthander Marcus Shippey and Everett sophomore lefthander Kyle Droz pitched so well in the district championship game that it was a real shame either had to lose.
Droz wound up pitching all nine innings, striking out 14 Bedford batters and walking none. He spaced nine hits, and Bedford won the game by breaking a 2-2 tie with an unearned run in the top of the ninth.
Catcher Tyler Black started the inning with a single to left field, and Seth Deasey took first base as a courtesy runner for him. Deasey moved to third when Sean Leister sliced a double to right, and scored the winning run after Droz had struck out the next two batters. Justin Himler hit a bouncer to second that Dylan Foor short-hopped nicely, but then momentarily bobbled, regained control, and was forced to throw off-balance to first. His throw pulled first baseman Tyler Morral off the bag as Deasey scored the go-ahead run.
"We were hoping to scratch across a few runs any way we could,'' Waugerman said. "We got some bounces here and there that went our way.''
Shippey pitched the final six innings Wednesday, striking out 13 Everett batters and allowing just three hits.
Everett tied the game, 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning on Foor's RBI single with one out, but Shippey retired the next two batters on a fielder's choice and strikeout, stranding the potential winning run at third base.
In the eighth inning, Everett had a runner on second base and one out before Shippey struck out two batters to end that threat.
"All we needed to do was to put the ball in play a couple times, and [not doing so] was the difference,'' said Everett coach Mike Kline, whose team stranded nine baserunners and finished the season 13-7. "Kyle Droz threw extremely well. He stepped up and did a terrific job, enough to win the ballgame.''
Except that Shippey was just as good.
"I thought Marcus threw a really good game,'' Waugerman said. "He got some big outs when we needed them.''
Pitching out of the seventh-inning jam after Everett stood on the doorstep to victory was the best example.
"Getting out of that seemed to boost our spirits,'' Shippey said.
Shippey also contributed with the bat, giving Bedford a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning by blasting a solo homer over the fence in right-center field.
"At the end, I started to get tired,'' said Shippey, who is also a standout on Bedford's football and wrestling teams. "I knew I had to throw strikes.''
He threw enough of them to get Bedford a district championship and a berth in the state playoffs for the second straight year.
"It was a well-played game,'' Shippey said. "We played well defensively today, and we hung in there.''
BEDFORD (3): J. Deasey ss 500, R. Robinette rf-1b 402, A. Robinette rf 300, Shippey 1b-p 312, Gibbons p-3b 201, Black c 413, S. Deasey cr 010, Leister cf 401, Henry 3b 000, Kendall dh 400, Housel 2b 100, Himler lf 400. Totals - 34-3-9.
EVERETT (2): Jays rf 502, Foor 2b 301, Mills ss 301, Morral 1b 401, Pittman cr 000, Droz p 300, Bollman 3b 301, Johnson cf 400, Woy lf 000, Greenwald dh 210, Stover c 301, McInroy cr 010. Totals -30-2-8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bedford010 001 001-3 9 1
Everett001 000 100-2 8 1
E-Leister, Foor. 2B-Bollman, Leister. HR - Black, Shippey. RBI-Black, Shippey, Foor, Stover. LOB-Bedford 6, Everett 9. SB-Gibbons. CS-McInroy, Greenwald, Jays. HBP-Gibbons by Droz; Mills by Gibbons.
BEDFORD IP R ER H SO BB
Gibbons 3 1 1 2 2 4
Shippey 4 1 1 3 13 4
EVERETT IP R ER H SO BB
Droz 9 3 2 10 14 0
Wild pitch-Gibbons, Shippey. PB-Black.
Records: Bedford (8-8); Everett (13-7). Umpires-Herb Long (HP); Doug Hengst (1B); John Nakich (2B); Tom Strait (3B).