GREENCASTLE — Before the situation even played out, it felt like a big moment in the game.
Greencastle-Antrim loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the second inning of a scoreless game, but failed to push across any runs. That seemed to ignite the Donegal team and the Indians went to to take an 8-4 win in a District 3 Class 5A first-round baseball game in Greencastle on Monday afternoon.
Donegal pitcher Jaden Fabian bore down and put up two strikeouts and a ground ball to escape the jam. Two innings later, the Indians took a 4-0 lead and held the lead the rest of the way.
“We did a lot of things better than we had been doing them, but not enough to make up for our mistakes,” G-A coach Eric Shaner said. “Give them some credit — they forced us into some of those mistakes.”
The Blue Devils fought back to get within 5-4 at the end of six innings, but a three-run top of the seventh by Donegal salted away the win. Greencastle was eliminated with a 13-7 record, while the Indians (15-7) will meet the winner of Monday’s night game between Gettysburg and Muhlenberg.
In the bottom of the second, Aidan Grudzinski led off with a single for Greencastle. Connor Rohm placed a bunt down the third-base line and reached base when the first baseman had to pull his foot to get the throw. Andrew Kerns then laid down a perfect bunt up the first-base line and avoided a tag for a hit to load the bases.
But when Fabian retired the next three batters, the Donegal bench exploded.
After being dominated by Kerns’ pitching through three innings (0 hits, 7 strikeouts), the Indians took advantage of everything given to them and scored four times in the top of the fourth.
Kerns got a strikeout to start the inning, which was his sixth consecutive punchout. But after a clean single by Colin Eckinger, things fell apart quickly. Kerns hit Brock Hammaker with a pitch on an 0-2 count, and the Indians scored the first run when the G-A shortstop made a double error, bobbling a grounder and throwing the ball away.
Fabian then cracked a double to leftfield that scored two runs. After Kerns hit another batter and gave up an RBI single to Nicholas Eichelberger, his day was over.
“I think he just ran out of gas,” Shaner said, “and it seemed to go all at once.”
Reliever Jace Szaflarski gave up an unearned run in the fifth to make it 5-0, then the comeback began.
In the bottom of the fifth, Briggs Remenick was hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Darren Kline base hit. With two outs, Grudzinski singled for his third hit of the game, and after an error in right field, Grencastle had runners on second and third.
Rohm delivered a key single to center to drive in two and make it 5-3.
In the sixth, the Blue Devils got even closer. Remenick drilled a line drive down the rightfield line and legged it into a triple, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Carter Reid.
Shaner said, “For the first time in a month, we did a better job with two strikes on us. But when the difference was just that one run, you could look back and think about that bases-loaded situation we didn’t score from, and also their hit (by A.J. Small that hit the skin of the infield grass) that hopped over Rohm’s head and scored a run.”
Fabian settled down and retired five of the last six G-A betters, except for one that reached base on an error.
And, to take away some potential drama, Donegal put up a three-spot in the seventh. Two singles and an error on a fly ball to left scored a pair of runs, then Fabian hit a sac fly to make it 8-4.
“It wasn’t for lack of effort, and we did some good things in the defeat,” Shaner said, “but they made more plays than us and we made mistakes that helped them a lot.”
The Blue Devils out-hit the Indians, 9-6, but Greencastle made seven errors and that led to five unearned runs.
Of the nine G-A starters Monday, only one (Rohm) is a senior.
Donegal 8, Greencastle 4
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Allman c 4 0 0 0 Remenick 2b 3 2 1 0
Eckinger cf 4 3 2 0 Reid dh 3 0 0 1
Hammaker ss 3 2 1 0 Jar.Szaflarski ss 0 0 0 0
Small lf 3 2 1 1 Kline 1b 4 1 2 1
Fabian p 3 0 1 3 Ford c 4 0 0 0
Baughman cr 0 1 0 0 Grudzinski lf 4 1 3 0
Sexton 2b 3 0 0 0 Rohm 3b 3 0 1 2
Eichelbergr 1b 4 0 1 1 Kerns p 1 0 1 0
Bailey 1b 0 0 0 0 Jac.Szaflarski p 3 0 1 0
Holmes rf 2 0 0 0 Wolff cr 0 0 0 0
Brown rf 0 0 0 0 Wyand cf 2 0 0 0
Robertson 3b 3 0 0 0 S.Eby 1 0 0 0
J.Eby rf 2 0 0 0
Johnston ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 29 8 6 5 Totals 30 4 9 4
Donegal 000 410 3 — 8
Greencastle 000 031 0 — 4
E — Don 4; GA 7. LOB — Don 5; GA 9. 2B — Fabian. 3B — Remenick. SF — Fabian; Reid. SB — Eichelberger, Eckinger. CS — Small.
ip h r er bb so
Fabian (W) 7 9 4 3 1 5
Kerns (L, 2-5) 3.1 3 4 3 0 8
Jac.Szaflarski 3.2 3 4 0 1 5
HBP — By Fabian (Remenick); by Kerns (Hammaker, Sexton. WP — Fabian.