Park Home escapes to take 2-1 series lead
One, two, three.
Those were the magic numbers for Park Home Saturday night that have the team within one win of the George B. Kelley Baseball Federation championship.
Clinging to a 5-4 lead with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Park turned a comebacker into a 1-2-3 double play to hold off Martin Oil in Game 3 of the finals at Vets Field and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
After breaking a 3-3 tie with two runs in the top of the sixth, Park found itself on the verge of defeat in the bottom of the seventh.
Noah Burns started the Martin Oil rally with a leadoff walk, and Chris Wertman followed with a pinch-hit double that scored Burns.
“Starting the inning with a leadoff walk was definitely bad,” Park coach Scott McClellan said. “Yes, I was worried. We were hurting but found a way to get out of it.”
After Cole Gibson relieved Ian Yon, Alex Schmoke reached on a drag bunt that rolled along the first base line, putting runners on first and third.
Gibson struck out Brendon Kowalski before walking Ian McFarland to load the bases.
“I knew I had to get a strikeout on that first out. After that, I was just hoping for a pop-up, strikeout or something lucky like a double play, and that’s just what happened,” Gibson said. “Their fans were loud, but we thrive on that. I love the pressure. It fuels me. That’s my role for the high school team. I’m the closer. I pitch in a lot of tough situations.”
Joe Padula hit it right back to Gibson. Gibson threw home to Owen Kravetz, who threw to first baseman John Gority. The throw was high, Gority jumped, snagged it and got his foot on the base just as Padula arrived.
“It was crazy,” Kravetz said. “Cole threw a fastball, and the batter got on top of it. I yelled ‘Four’ and knew we had to get a double play. I had to throw a little high because he’s kind of tall. I had to make a quick play because he runs well.”
The umpire called Padula out, ending the game. The Martin Oil coaches argued the call to no avail.
“That didn’t cost us the game,” Martin coach Brock Anders said. “We made too many mistakes early in the game. Their leadoff hitter reached almost every inning. They had 10 hits. With errors and walks, I think they had something like 18 or 19 base runners.”
Park’s game-winning rally in the sixth started with an error, allowing Casey Sheetz to reach. Kravetz followed with a double to left center off Nevin Wood. It was the first time all game a Park batter pulled the league MVP with any authority.
“He’s got a good fastball. We were trying to look up the middle and the other way,” Kravetz said. “I was looking fastball, found it and put a good swing on it.”
Sheetz scored on a groundout to third, and Kravetz scooted home on a wild pitch.
Yon went 2-for-3 for Park with a double and a run scored. Burns led the Martin Oil offense with a 2-for-2 night. His double in the fourth inning drove home two runs to give the team a 3-2 lead.
Park tied the game in the fifth when Dylan Benton singled to score Gority.
Game 4 is 7 p.m. this evening at Vets Field.
PARK HOME (5): Sheetz ss 321, Kravetz c 411, Gority 1b 511, Plunket rf 301, Yon 3b-p 312, Benton p-3b-2b 301, Walters cr 000, Georgiana lf 301, Gibson 2b-p 000, Folcarelli dh 401, Miller cf 401. TOTALS — 32 5 10.
MARTIN OIL (4): Kowalski cf 200, McFarland ss-lf 300, Padula 1b 400, Showalter c 301, Shaulis cr 010, Wood p-ss 302, Johnston cr 010, Whaley eh 200, Walker rf 110, Burns 3b 212, Akers lf 200, Stewart p 000, Wertman 101, Schmoke 2b 201. TOTALS — 24 4 7.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Park Home 100 112 0–5 10 0
Martin Oil 010 020 1–4 7 2
E–Wood, McFarland. 2B–Kravetz, Yon, Wood, Burns, Wertman. RBI–Yon, Folcarelli, Benton, Gority, Walker, Burns 2, Wertman. WP–Benton. LP–Wood. SO–Benton 1, Yon 1, Gibson 1, Wood 5, Stewart 1. BB–Benton 3, Yon 1, Gibson 1, Wood 2.
Park Home leads best-of-five series 2-1.