PENNSBURG — Nor-Gwyn’s chances of forcing Game 2 in the Bux-Mont American Legion championship looked slim when it lost a two-run seventh inning lead and one of the team’s leaders was ejected Monday night at Upper Perkiomen High School.
Two unlikely heroes stepped up.
Quinn Holt, a pitcher who entered the game 0-for-2 at the plate all season, delivered the walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth inning while Johnny Carson, who hasn’t pitched in two years, earned the win on the mound in a 5-4 victory over their close friends on Hatfield-Towamencin.
Holt got his first at-bat of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. He took Evin Sullivan’s spot in the order after Sullivan was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the top half of the frame. Holt grounded out, dropping his season statline to 0-for-3.
In the ninth inning, Holt stepped to the plate with one out and runners on first and second after Hatfield-Towamencin walked Jeff Sabater. Holt broke his bat – well, a teammate’s bat – on the game-winning hit, which landed inside the foul line in left field. Tommy Simpson scored from second to force a decisive Game 2 Tuesday at 5 p.m. back at Upper Perk.
“It was crazy,” Holt said. “I’m a pitcher so I don’t typically get to hit. When I got to hit I have to take a chance and make it fun – just go out there and swing as hard as I can and see what happens.”
“As soon as they intentionally walked Jeff I said, 'Quinn is going to walk this thing off,'” Nor-Gwyn’s RJ Agriss said. “That would be the ending to this kind of game. It’s amazing – especially against these guys. It’s so much fun. A fun game, a crazy game against some of our best friends that we’ve played with the last six months.”
The Hawks only needed one run to win in the bottom of the ninth after Carson held Hatfield-Towamencin scoreless in the top half of the inning. The inning started with a runner on second base, who was picked off by Sullivan’s replacement at catcher, Spencer Heilveil. Carson sandwiched a pair of pop outs around a double to keep the score tied, 4-4.
Carson threw 2.1 innings, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out one batter and walked one.
“I switched my arm slots a couple times,” Carson said. “I was just throwing fastballs right down the middle. Let them put the ball in play.”
Carson entered the game after a little controversy in the top of the seventh inning. Starter Chris LaRosa looked to finish off a complete game when a one-out fly ball went to left center field. Ryan Sullivan appeared to catch the ball and collide with Sabater. Sullivan stayed down with an injury while Sabater threw the ball in to get a runner tagging up at second base.
Instead of a game-ending double play, it was ruled that Sullivan didn’t complete the catch. The runner was still out at second, putting runners on the corners with two outs and a 3-1 Nor-Gwyn lead.
The Hawks planned for Sullivan to relieve LaRosa, but due to his injury Carson came into the game. He allowed a two-run double to pinch hitter Colby Seelig to tie the game, 3-3.
On the following at-bat, Evin Sullivan was ejected for disputing a pitch called a ball. After that batter was walked, Carson got a fly ball to strand two runners on base.
“We were all pretty mad,” Agriss said. “We’ve learned over our entire lifetimes that it’s going to happen in baseball. That’s the game of baseball – these umpires are humans. They’re going to make mistakes, calls that we don’t agree with. What we’ve learned over however many years that we’ve been playing baseball is that you have to flush it. If we carry that into the dugout and we’re still mad, we don’t tie that game up and Quinn never has a chance to walk it off. We were mentally strong to flush what just happened and move on.”
In the eighth inning, both teams scored. Justin Egner had an RBI single for H-T and Steve Corrado plated a run on a fielder’s choice for N-G.
Both starting pitchers went deep into the game with impressive performances.
LaRosa went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs on one hit for Nor-Gwyn. He struck out four batters to three walks. He threw five perfect innings in the first, second, third, fifth and sixth frames.
Paul Moretski threw seven innings for the Titans. He struck out six batters to four walks and allowed three runs on eight hits.
Hatfield-Towamencin took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning. Quinn Marett singled and, after Moretski walked and Egner was hit by a pitch, scored when Jack Picozzi worked a bases-loaded walk.
Nor-Gwyn responded in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game when Zach Warner walked with the bases loaded.
After a lengthy lightning delay in the top of the fifth inning, Sam Cohen put Nor-Gwyn ahead in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run double to right field.
Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday night’s championship game, both teams earned berths into the Region 2 tournament, which begins Friday.
Nor-Gwyn 5, Hatfield-Towamencin 4 (9 innings)
Hatfield-Towamencin 000 100 210 – 4
Nor-Gwyn 000 120 011 – 5
WP: Johnny Carson 2.1 IP 1 K 1 BB 3 H 1 R
LP: Jadon Dormer 1.1 IP 2 K 1 BB 1 H 2 R
2B: HT: Colby Seelig, Jacob Martinell. NG: Sam Cohen.