By Jim Lane
For the Mirror
The squeeze play is one of the neatest plays in baseball when executed properly.
Tristan Lingafelt's perfect suicide bunt sparked a three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth inning that gave Martin Oil a 4-2 comeback victory over Baltimore Diamond Pros on Thursday night at Mansion Park.
Martin Oil, the George B. Kelley Junior Federation champion, now needs only one win to capture the National Amateur Baseball Federation Altoona Regional Tournament championship and earn a trip to the NABF National event in Ohio next week.
"It's definitely exciting for these kids," Martin Oil manager Ron Mock said after watching his Bellwood club move within one win of the regional crown.
Schenectady Indians (1-1) vs. Baltimore Diamond Pros (1-1), at Vets, 11 a.m.
11 a.m. winner (2-1) vs. Martin Oil (2-0), at Mansion Park, 7 p.m.
Trailing 2-1, Martin Oil's big inning began with a walk to Haden DeGennaro and an infield hit by Jordan Rabits. Chad Luesmann's attempted sacrifice wound up in a force play at third but Dan Beech singled to center, scoring DeGennaro with the tying run. When the relay to the infield got away, Luesmann raced to third and Beech to second. Trenton Creppage then reached on an error to load the bases.
That set the stage for Lingafelt, who dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line. While Luesmann raced home to break the deadlock, Diamond Pros pitcher Matthew Boyd made an errant throw to first, enabling Beech to score, too, for a 4-2 Martin lead.
Mock gave credit to third base coach Tim Kovac for calling the squeeze play.
"I let him make the calls for us, and he does a great job," Mock said. "It was a huge inning for us. It's a team effort. You've got to get on base and we got hits when we needed them."
Baltimore manager Joe Daddura said the one bad inning was the difference in the game, although he said they were expecting the squeeze play.
"We had a couple errors in the field, they put some balls in play and that's what it was," Daddura said.
"We called [squeeze play] here," he said. "With the bases loaded, it's a pretty safe play, especially when a new pitcher comes in and wants to pound the [strike] zone.
"They bunted and executed and you can't defend it if its done right," Daddura added. "It's a great play."
Rabits, a pickup player from Park Furniture, worked the first six innings to earn the win. Beech, who was honored prior to the game as the Kelley Federation's pitcher-of-the-year, pitched the seventh inning to earn the save, but it wasn't easy.
Baltimore's Ron Farley, who was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate, tripled to center to open the inning. However, Beech, a lefty, fanned the next batter, got the second out on an infield pop-up and ended the game by getting Dan Stark to fly out to left fielder Jake Stapleton.
Beech started only one game all season, but was unscored on in 16 relief appearances.
"I just come in and close the games," Beech said. "Tonight, I watched this team and noticed they weren't hitting many curve balls so that's what I went with."
DIAMOND PROS (2): Reynolds cf 311, Tipton 2b 300, Farley 404, Rabat c 402, Kershner 1b 400, Stark ss 211, Gimblet 3b 300, Doan lf 302, Caporlette dh 301, Houck p 000, Boyd p 000. Totals - 29-2-11.
MARTIN OIL (4): DeGennaro cf 200, Rabits p-rf 412, Baker 1b 100, Luesman 1b 210, Beech rf-p 322, Creppage c 300, Lingafelt ss 302, Stapleton lf 200, Soellner 2b 200, Hunter 3b 200, Zitterbart 3b 100. Totals - 25-4-6.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Diamond Pros010 010 0-2 11 4
Martin Oil000 130 x-4 6 2
E-Reynolds, Stark, Gimblet, Boyd, Lingafelt, Stapleton. 2B-Beech, Doan. 3B-Farley. RBI-Reynolds, Farley, Beech, Lingafelt 2.
DIAMOND PROS IP R ER H SO BB
Houck (L) 4.1 4 1 5 7 4
Boyd 1.2 0 0 1 2 0
Rabits (W) 6 2 1 10 4 1
Beech (SV) 1 0 0 1 1 0
HPB - Stark (by Rabits).
Umpires - Joe Thompson (plate), Mike Morgan (bases).