Casey Gray returned from vacation long enough to help save Martin Oil in the George B. Kelley Amateur Baseball Federation's playoff championship series, but he's headed out of town again and will miss the upcoming NABF Regional Tournament.
Gray, who missed the first three playoff games, returned Sunday and smacked a key two-run triple to spark Martin Oil's 5-3 victory over Dick's Pharmacy at Veterans' Memorial Field.
The win gave the Bellwood team a 3-1 best-of-five series win and its second straight league championship.
"Two [championships] in a row. That's hard to do," Martin Oil manager Ron Mock said following Sunday's win.
With the scored tied at 2-2, Gray rapped a triple to center to chase home Haden DeGennaro and Zach Mock. When the relay back to the infield got away, Gray was awarded home, giving Martin a 5-2 lead it never relinquished.
"[Gray] was back just for today," Mock said, "and he's leaving again tomorrow. He gave us what we needed, and that's fine."
"I was gone for awhile and was a little rusty," Gray said of his first two at-bats. "I came back today and just wanted to help the team, and came through with a big hit."
Gray's triple came on a first pitch from Dick's pitcher Chris Sinisi.
"I noticed he was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes," Gray said, "and I got a good swing."
"That was a beautiful hit," Dick's manager Pat Yon said. "They missed him. Casey was away on vacation, he came back and I told him 'they were waiting for you.' He's a good kid."
Tristan Lingafelt limited Dick's to just three hits before faltering in the seventh inning.
"He pitched a great game," Mock said. "He's been our go-to guy all season, and he's only 16 years old, but he wanted the ball, we gave it to him and he got the job done."
Now in his second Kelley season, Lingafelt will be a junior at Tyrone Area High School.
"I was really excited to pitch today," Lingafelt said. "I just tried to throw strikes, let them hit the ball and let my teammates make plays. I started to tire at the end.
"Coach asked me if I was good to go in the seventh, but I struggled and [Dan] Beech came on to get them," Lingafelt said.
Dick's had a shot in the bottom of the seventh when Dylan Oswalt singled and Justin Wolfe walked with no outs and worked a double steal. However, Beech relieved Lingafelt and got out of the jam by striking out two and getting the third batter on a pop to short.
"Beech has been our seventh-inning guy all season," Mock said. "He came in and did the job again."
"Eight hits, five runs, they deserved to win," Yon said of the outcome. "They're a good team and they played well.
"We just didn't get things accomplished when we needed to," Yon said. "You can't strand that many runners on base (nine) and expect to win the game."
Both teams will participate in the NABF Altoona Regional which begins Thursday.
MARTIN OIL (5): H. DeGennaro cf 311, Mock 1b-rf 421, Gray ss 411, Beech rf-p 411, Creppage c 301, Lingafelt p-3b 300, Stewart 3b-1b 401, Soellner 2b 302, Stapleton lf 200. Totals - 30-5-8.
DICK'S PHARMACY (3): Sinisi p-ss 310, Adams rf 221, Oswalt cf 402, Wolfe 3b-p 100, Eckenrode 1b 300, J. DeGennaro ss-2b 300, Knott 2b-3b 200, McElhanny dh 200, N. Lytle c 200, B. Lytle lf 200. Totals - 24-3-3.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Martin Oil011 030 0-5 8 4
Dick's Pharmacy002 010 0-3 3 3
E-Oswalt, J. DeGennaro, N. Lytle, Gray, Soellner, Stewart 2. 2B-Adams. 3B-Gray. RBI-Oswalt, Eckenrode, Gray 2, Soellner. SB - Beech 2, Wolfe 2. Sac - Adams, B. Lytle. Sac fly - Eckenrode.
MARTIN OIL IP R ER H SO BB
Lingafelt (W) 6 3 0 3 5 5
Beech (SV) 1 0 0 0 2 0
Lingafelt pitched to two batters in the seventh.
Sinisi (LP) 6 5 3 8 5 3
Wolfe 1 0 0 0 1 1
HPB - Sinisi, N. Lytle (by Lingafelt). PB - N. Lytle.
Umpires - Joe Bidoli Jr. (HP), Jeff Burket (1b), Brett Shover (3b).