Martin Oil evened the championship playoff series in the George B. Kelley Junior Federation with a 8-7, 10-inning win over Park Furniture on Saturday night at Vets Field, but it wasn't easy.
Far from it.
Martin Oil built a 7-0 lead in the first four and a half innings, but almost let it get away. Park Furniture capped a big comeback with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings only to see Martin win in the 10th when Randy Zitterbart singled home Tanner Snyder.
Jordan Miller then set Park down in the bottom of the 10th to seal the victory.
Game 3 in the best-of-five series is slated for 7 p.m. today at Vets Field. The Federation's playoff champion will receive an automatic berth to the NABF World Series in Struthers, Ohio. The local runnerup will host the NABF Altoona Regional.
"I was a little nervous," Martin manager Ron Mock admitted after seeing Park tie the game 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"I told the kids we need to learn to finish off these games."
Park manager Scott McClellan was disappointed, but was impressed his team didn't quit.
"They're great," McClellan said, nodding toward his team. "They came back, they fought hard."
Pitcher Catcher Cumming kept Park in the game with a gutsy effort on the mound. Cumming worked the league maximum nine innings in a day and had to be pulled with the score tied at 7-all.
"He pitched a great game," McClellan said. "It was a hard one to lose."
Park's shoddy defense hurt Cumming. Martin scored three runs in the top of the third, aided by three Park errors. Martin tallied four times in the fifth, again helped by three Park errors, to take a seemingly-comfortable 7-0 lead.
"I think we had eight errors," McClellan said. "With that many errors, I'm extremely proud (of our effort)."
Martin's Tristin Lingafelt breezed through the first four innings, blanking Park on two hits while striking out seven. However, Park took advantage of four walks to score twice in the fifth frame and Lingafelt was lifted in favor of Cory Parson.
"It's a guessing game," Mock said. "You don't know how long to keep a pitcher in (the game). You don't know what the next kid's going to bring.
"Give Park credit. They battled back and never quit. It's going to be a good series."
Ben Foose greeted Parson with a crushing homer to left-center to lead off the sixth and Derek Cursio's RBI single made it 7-4 after six. Park came all the way back against Miller in the seventh, scoring three times on doubles by Cumming and Foose, a single by Josh DeGol and a fielder's choice grounder by Tommy Walter.
Cumming and Miller then tossed zeroes in the eighth and ninth before Martin broke the deadlock in the top of the 10th. Mason McGinnis relieved Cumming and retired the first two batters before Snyder, Nathaniel Soellner and Zitterbart smacked three consecutive singles to produce the game-winner.
"I didn't know what to do (when I saw the lead slipping away)," Miller said. "We had to do everything we could to stay in it,
"Some guys started to hang their heads, but we just needed to play ball and work our way back step by step," he said.
After giving up the tying run in the seventh, Miller blanked Park over the next three frames to get the win.
"I just knew we needed to get this win, so I did everything I could to get it," Miller said. "I had to dig deep."
MARTIN OIL (8): Stapleton 522, Mock lf 512, Miller 1b-p 500, Creppage c 401, Woo cr 000, Bowers cr 000, Lingafelt p-ss 401, Parson p 000, Kowalski cr 000, Snyder ss-1b 512, N. Soellner 2b 412, Zitterbart 3b 512, Kline rf 422. Totals - 41-8-14.
PARK FURNITURE (7): Cursio 1b 611, McGinnis ss-p 401, Cumming p 411, DeGol 2b-ss 413, Lombardo cf 400, Foose c 522, Walter 3b 400, Metzger pr 000, Luciano rf 200, Adams rf 110, Thompson lf 411. Totals - 38-7-9.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Martin Oil003 040 000 1-8 14 3
Park Furniture000 022 300 0-7 9 7
E-Cursio, McGinnis, Foose 2, Walter 2, Thompson, Lingafelt, Snyder, Zitterbart. 2B-Cumming, Foose. HR-Foose. RBI-Cursio, Cumming, DeGol, Foose 2, Walter, Stapleton, Mock, Miller, Creppage, Zitterbart, Kline. WP-Miller. LP-McGinnis. SO-Lingafelt 7, Miller 7, Cumming 4. BB-Lingafelt 4, Parson 1, Miller 1.