Trailing 4-0 and registering just one hit after three innings of the Altoona Teener Major League championship series game 3 as the league's top seed, Postal Express manager John Gressler gave his team two options: Give up or show some fight.
His team chose the latter, as it rallied, scoring at least one run in each of the last four innings to capture the Altoona Teener Major championship over second-seeded Cumming Motors, 6-5, at Seitz Field.
"I simply told them we can pack it in, quit and give them the title," Gressler said. "Or we can fight back and play one play at a time and one pitch at a time."
After Postal third baseman Josiah Huber singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh, he stole second base to get into scoring position. A strikeout set the table for Bubba Johnson, who hit a hard groundball off of pitcher Catcher Cumming's glove, allowing Huber to round third base and score the winning run.
"As I rounded third base I was thinking that [the ball] would get into that gap [between first and second base]," Huber said. "But I didn't know, so I ran as hard as I could to see if I could score the winning run."
Johnson finished with three hits and two RBIs, while Huber and Jarod Kutz each added two hits.
"We didn't quit," Gressler said. "[Mark] Ferry got the big home run to tie it and Johnson with the key hit at the end. We made plays when we had to."
The game didn't start out as well for Postal as it finished.
Donnie McConnell, Chase Smith and Cumming each had RBI singles, with another run scoring on Cumming's single via error, to set the score at 4-0 after three innings.
"We're a very good hitting team," Cumming Motors manager Chris Sanders said. "The way we score is by putting the ball in play and making the other team make adjustments, but Postal is one of the few teams that can adjust well after their mistakes."
Postal committed three errors in the third inning that allowed runners to move up on the base paths.
"We played good defense all year,'' Gressler said. "We fell apart in the first game with a lot of errors and had errors again last night. We thought in the third inning 'here we go again,' but give the kids credit, we came back."
After Huber and Kutz hit back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the fourth inning, Cumming Motors pitcher Cordell Bowser was able to get out of the jam relatively unharmed allowing just a sacrifice fly by Alex Hoenstine that scored Huber.
Postal got it going again in the bottom of the fifth inning, as pitcher Andrew Gressler, Kutz and Johnson each had RBI singles before it left the bases loaded to end the inning down just one run, 5-4.
Cumming Motors failed to score in the top of the sixth, to set the stage for Ferry to lead off the bottom.
With a 1-1 count, Ferry drove the ball deep over the left-center field fence to tie the game.
Catcher Cumming singled with one out in the top of the seventh inning but was called out while stealing second base before a flyout to end the inning.
Huber scored on Johnson's hit in the bottom of the inning to complete the comeback and give Postal the championship.
"I'm extremely proud," Gressler said. "To go in the top seed, we had a target on our back. We were shaky in some games but came through and played well. I didn't do anything. [The players] did it all."
After finishing in last place just a year ago, Sanders was more than pleased with his team's effort.
"Our team went from 3-19 and last place last year to the championship this year," Sanders said. "To come in and finish the way we did this year, I couldn't ask for a better group of kids. It was a great run this year."
Game notes: Bowser gave up just three hits and one run before being pulled after four innings ... Catcher Cumming finished with three hits, and teammate Donnie McConnell added two ... The 2013 league awards were announced, as Luke Everhart (Sheetz) won the 14-year-old sportsmanship award, J.M. Knepp (Teeter Group) and Johnson (Postal Express) won the 15-year-old sportsmanship award, and Cumming (Cumming Motors) won the league MVP.
CUMMING MOTORS (5): Bowser p-lf 411, Smith cf 311, Cumming c-p 423, McConnell 3b-c 302, Conrath lf-3b 301, Allen 2b 301, Kipp ss 300, Newberry 1b 300, Imler rf 310. Totals - 29-5-9.
POSTAL EXPRESS (6): Carper ss 300, Snyder pr 010, Gressler p 411, Huber 3b 322, Kutz 1b 402, Johnson c 403, Hoenstine 2b 200, Ferry cf 311, Hord rf 100, Lamark rf 211, Fanelli lf 300. Totals - 27-6-10.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Cumming Motors103 010 0-5 9 2
Postal Express000 131 1-6 10 5
E-Kipp, McConnell, Hord, Fanelli, Ferry, Lamark, Kutz. HR-Ferry. RBI-McConnell 2, Smith, Cumming, Johnson 2, Ferry, Kutz, Gressler, Hoenstine. WP-Gressler. LP-Cumming. SO-Cumming 3, Bowser, Gressler 2. BB-Cumming 2, Gressler 2.
Cumming Motors: Bowser-4IP, 3H, 1R, 1 ER, 1K, 0BB; Cumming (L)-2IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 3K, 2BB.
Postal Express: Gressler (W)-7IP, 9H, 5R, 4ER, 2K, 2BB.