H.S. Baseball: Rain Suspends Pine Grove-Salisbury District 11 Class AA Final | Sports & Recreation
ALLENTOWN - A wild and wacky District 11 Class AA final had a wet and windy ending.
Pine Grove and Salisbury battled to a 6-6 tie Tuesday at Coca-Cola Park, with the game suspended with two outs in the top of the seventh after an intense thunderstorm rolled through the Lehigh Valley.
The game will be resumed at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, following the completion of the Class A championship game between Tri-Valley and Pius X. That game was postponed Tuesday.
"You could write a book on this game, and that book would have several chapters," Pine Grove coach Keith Lehman said.
Tuesday's game had a little bit of everything, starting under sun-splashed skies and in 91-degree heat.
The two teams combined for 15 hits and 11 errors, with both starting pitchers not lasting past the second inning.
Sophomore Jared McCabe, who pitched brilliantly in postseason wins over North Schuylkill, Nativity and Williams Valley, got the start for the Cardinals and struggled mightily.
McCabe surrendered three runs in the top of the first inning and another in the second before being lifted, giving up three hits, two walks, two hit batters and four runs, although only one of those runs was earned.
"We as a staff felt he deserved the start," Lehman said of McCabe. "He didn't bring his A game. Why? I don't know.
"He competed. Maybe he didn't adjust to the stage, I don't know."
Salisbury starter Nic Ampietro retired the Cardinals in order in the top of the first, striking out two.
In the second inning, however, Stevie Zimmerman lined the second pitch of the frame off the side of Ampietro's head, the impact being so hard the ball bounced into left field.
After being tended to by trainers, coaches and medical personnel as the crowd sat in an eerie silence, Ampietro walked off the field
under his own power. He was taken to a local hospital after the game to be examined, and isn't expected to play Thursday.
Zimmerman went to second on the play and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Jordan Shiffer off reliever Tyler Cooperman.
The run woke up the Cardinals, who then scored two runs in the third and two more in the fourth to take a 5-4 lead.
Ty Zimmerman had an RBI double and Stevie Zimmerman plated another run with a single in the third inning, while three Salisbury errors helped Pine Grove take the lead in the fourth.
"The last three weeks of the season, this team has grown and been a different team," Lehman said. "I just said to them when (Salisbury) got them three runs that we're not changing anything. I said, 'We'll be fine, we have a lot of at-bats, and we just need a run here and there.'
"We had a key hit to get a run in the second inning to let them know we weren't going anywhere and that we'd be here for the seven innings."
Salisbury (21-2) regained the lead with two unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth off Ty Zimmerman, who relieved McCabe in the second and pitched 4.1 innings.
Pine Grove tied it in the top of the sixth, when Jed Blankenhorn reached on an error, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kobe D'Agostino, took third on a single by Nick Todero and scored on a single by Josh Scheibley. Scheibley's single came off Justin Aungst, who relieved Cooperman and pitched the final 1.1 innings.
The Cardinals preserved the tie with a pair of key defensive plays in the bottom of the sixth.
After Aungst reached on an error and moved to second on an errant pick-off throw, Todero fielded a grounder to shortstop and quickly threw to third to get Aungst for the second out of the inning.
After a walk to Ryan Utsch, catcher Stevie Zimmerman threw out Charley Rogers trying to steal third to end the inning as the black clouds enveloped the stadium.
Aungst got the first two outs of the top of the seventh in near darkness before the rain hit.
Since Ty Zimmerman and Cooperman each pitched five innings as per PIAA pitching rules, both will be ineligible for Thursday's game. That leaves Aungst for Salisbury and either McCabe or Nevin White for Pine Grove.
"The team battled," Lehman said. "We showed what we did all year, to come back and never say die. We had a lot of other opportunities, but we didn't play well defensively. But we're 6-6 in the district championship game.
"We'll come back Thursday and we'll be ready to keep on competing and battling."