Park Furniture manager Scott McClellan doesn't mince words when extolling the virtues of Martin Oil righthanded pitcher Tristan Lingafelt.
"He's the best in the league,'' McClellan said.
Lingafelt is not only talented, he's also the type of money pitcher that a team wants on the mound with a big game on the line.
"This is his third year playing for us, and when we have him on the field, the other kids on the team know that we can win the game,'' Martin Oil manager Ron Mock said. "They have that much confidence that he'll mow the other team down. He's a kid who I'm not afraid to give the ball to, [because] he'll get the job done.''
Lingafelt, who will be a senior at Tyrone Area High School this fall, lived up to all the high praise Wednesday night in Game 3 of the George B. Kelley Federation league championship series at Vets Field, tossing a tidy complete-game four-hitter to spark Martin Oil to a 5-2 win over Park Furniture.
Lingafelt mixed his fast ball and curve well to strike out 11 Park Furniture batters and move Martin Oil to within a victory of capturing its third straight league title tonight, when Game 4 in the best-of-five series gets underway at 7 p.m. at Vets.
"I just tried to throw as many strikes as I could, and let my fielders make the plays,'' Lingafelt said. "I threw my curve ball more than I usually do, and it was more of a strikeout pitch tonight than it usually is.''
Lingafelt struck out at least one Park Furniture batter in every inning Wednesday, and struck out the side in both the fifth and seventh innings.
"He's got a good fast ball and good curve ball, and he throws his curve at the same speed that he throws his fast ball,'' McClellan said. "[Hitters] can't pick it up until it's almost near the plate.''
Martin Oil wiped out a 2-1 deficit with a three-run third inning to take the lead for good, 4-2. Third baseman Randy Zitterbart was hit by a Joel Reighard pitch, and center fielder Jake Stapleton walked. After a wild pitch moved the runners up a base to second and third, Zitterbart scored on left fielder Zach Mock's infield single that also moved Stapleton to third. Stapleton came home as first baseman Jordan Miller's infield grounder was being mishandled.
Zach Mock went to second on the play, and scored the third run of the inning on Lingafelt's single to right field.
"I tell the kids all the time to put the ball in play, and that's all we want to do,'' Ron Mock said.
In the fifth inning, Zach Mock walked, went to second on Miller's single, and scored on a single to left by catcher Trenton Creppage.
Park Furniture spotted Martin a first-inning run that came about when Stapleton was awarded home plate after being interfered with in a rundown between third base and the plate.
Park went ahead, 2-1 in the second, on a two-run, opposite-field single to right field by designated hitter Tommy Walter.
Martin Oil hopes to wrap up its third straight league championship tonight, but Ron Mock knows that it won't be easy.
With this year's regional being canceled, both teams will advance to next week's National Amateur Baseball Federation national tournament that will be held in Struthers, Ohio.
"If we win three, it will be great,'' Ron Mock said. "It's hard to win one, and it's harder to win two. The kids can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and hopefully, they'll be able to finish it.''
Game notes: A league awards ceremony will be held prior to the start of tonight's game ... If a winnter-take-all Game 5 is necessary, it will be played Friday at 7 p.m. at Vets.
PARK FURNITURE (2): Reighard p 401, McGinnis ss 301, Cumming c 300, DeGol 3b 210, Foose 2b 311, Cursio 1b 200, Lombardo cf 200, Adams lf 000, Walter dh 301, Thompson rf 200, Matzik ph 100. Totals - 25-2-4.
MARTIN OIL (5): Stapleton cf 220, Mock lf 321, Miller 1b 201, Creppage c 301, Lingafelt p 201, Snyder ss 300, Soellner rf 300, Zitterbart 3b 210, Wood 2b 301. Totals - 23-5-5.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Park Furniture020 000 0-2 4 2
Locker Room103 010 X-5 5 2
E-Soellner, Wood, McGinnis, Foose. RBI-Walter 2, Mock, Miller, Creppage, Lingafelt. LOB -Martin Oil 6, Park Furniture 5. HBP -Lombardo by Lingafelt; Zitterbart by Reighard. SB -Stapleton.
Park Furniture: Reighard (L) 6IP, 5H, 5R, 3ER, 5BB, 6SO.
Martin Oil: Lingafelt (W) 7IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 11SO.
Umpires: John Molnar-plate; Trevor Arnold-first base; Brett Shover-third base.