In best-of-five playoff series, usually winning game 3 is the key to winning a series.
ProActive Sports won the ever important game 3 against Conrad Chiropractic/Lilly American Legion, 4-3, in the Altoona Greater City Baseball League best-of-five championship series Wednesday evening at Vets Field.
"It was a very nice win," ProActive Sports player/manager Tom Smith said. "Considering we were doing practically nothing offensive the whole game until the sixth inning."
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
ProActive pitcher Andy Lytle works against Lilly.
When pitchers like Andy Lytle, of ProActive Sports, and Lilly's Matt Aungst are starting, you expect a brilliant pitchers duel, and that is exactly what happened.
Lytle and Aungst both pitched scoreless first and second innings, and Aungst had a scoreless top of the third inning before Lilly had its best inning of the game in the bottom half of the third.
After retiring the first two batters of the bottom of the third inning, Lilly's number two hitter, Cody Gallaher, hit a single, while Brandon Ickes followed with a walk. The following two hitters, Brent Davison and Lucas McCoy, hit back-to-back RBI singles, giving Lilly a 3-0 advantage.
ProActive Sports appeared to finally be getting to Aungst in the top of the fourth inning after loading the bases with two outs, but Aungst escaped the jam.
Lytle retired the side in the bottom half of the fourth inning - three up, three down. Lilly tacked on a third run against Lytle in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to an RBI double by Brandon Ickes plating leadoff hitter Brent Matish.
In the top of the sixth inning, Aungst walked the first two hitters he faced, in Jake Hargreaves and John Snyder, when Lilly's player/manager, Lucas McCoy, replaced him with Ian Olsavsky.
Olsavsky allowed a two-run double to Mark Saxman and an RBI double the following hitter, Vince Nedimyer.
After Olsavsky retired Matt Hershey, McCoy replaced him with Matish. Although the run was charged to Olsavsky, Matish allowed the first batter he faced, Jay Baker, to knock in Nedimyer with the go-ahead run.
Lytle would not be denied in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, retiring all six batters he faced.
"Andy kept us in the ballgame," Smith said. "He was the difference."
It was unfortunate that Aungst could not earn the win, after giving up two runs and two hits in five-plus innings of work. He threw three no-hit innings, struck out three and walking three.
Both managers praised his efforts.
"Matt gave us about as good of a start as we could've ever asked for," McCoy said.
"Matt's usually effective against us over the years," Smith said. "He pounded the strike zone tonight. He pitched really well."
Game 4 of the series will be played this evening at 6:15 at Vets Field. Smith knows how important it is to close things out in game four.
"We've got to close things out tomorrow (Thursday)," Smith said. "It'll be tough. There's a reason why they've won so many championships."
McCoy knows his team will scratch and claw in game four.
"It's unfortunate that we're down 2-1, but we know we are still in this thing," McCoy said. "We'll have to come out swinging tomorrow."
Game notes: Prior to the game, the league's season award winners were honored. The rookie of the year was awarded to Mountain View Archery's Damion Lascoli. Zach Stere of Lilly earned the outstanding pitcher award, while Saxman was given the MVP...
PROACTIVE SPORTS (4): Barnard 2b 400, Hargreaves 3b 310, Snyder cf 111, Saxman 1b 311, Nedimyer c 312, Matt Hershey lf/rf 200, Baker rf 301, Lytle p 000, Neff dh 300, Gority ss 301. Totals 25 4 6.
LILLY CONRAD CHIROPRACTIC/AMERICAN LEGION (3): Matish cf/p 310, Gallaher 1b 411, B. Ickes ss 221, Davison rf 201, McCoy 3b 201, Sinclair 2b/lf 200, Petrowsky dh 300, Aungst p 000, Ostinowsky p 000, Porter c 300, R. Ickes lf/cf 300. Totals 24 4 4.
SCORE BY INNING
ProActive Sports0000400 4 6 1
Lilly Conrad Chiropractic/American Legion002 0100 3 4 0
Dp Lilly. 2b B. Ickes, Saxman, Nedimyer. Sac bunt McCoy. RBI Davison, McCoy, R. Ickes, Nedimyer, Saxman 2, Baker. Hbp Matt Hershey by Aungst. WP Lytle. LP Olsavsky. SO Lytle 4, Aungst 3, Matish 1. BB Lytle 3, Aungst 3.