6-hitter lifts DuraEdge in Colt regional
By Greg Gulas
The last time that he was called upon to pitch, DuraEdge’s Alex Thompson was sluggish while admitting that he never found his groove.
On opening night of the PONY League Colt super regional, he was anything but sluggish and in rhythm from opening pitch to final out.
Thompson pitched a complete game, scattered six hits and worked out of jams in both the fifth and seventh innings to lead DuraEdge to a 1-0 victory over Shaler (Pa.) at Bob Cene Park.
DuraEdge advances to today’s winners bracket and will play the Longhorns at 12:30 p.m. on Field #1.
“I need to thank my defense tonight because they made big play after big play,” he said. “They did most of the work. My curve was moving and I was able to locate my pitches and hit my spots.
“My catcher, Nathan Sommers, called an excellent game and he saved the day in the fifth inning when he was able to throw out their runner trying to get home when the ball got away from him. That was big.”
DuraEdge (23-16) opened the scoring in the second when Phil Fusco walked to open the frame, advanced to second base on a single by Drew Wagner and then raced home on a single up the middle by Walker Marlowe.
That proved to be the game-winning hit.
“It was an 0-2 count and I was looking for a curve, but he threw me a fastball and I was able to get around on it and drive it up the middle,” Marlowe said. “It’s big when you win your opening game because it keeps you in the winners bracket. It can get very tough when you have to fight your way out of the losers bracket.”
Shaler threatened in the fifth inning as Will Nichols and Adam Zulka led off with back-to-back singles, and Grant Lacey sacrificed both runners into scoring position.
A ball that barely got away from Sommers, however, enabled him to throw Nichols out attempting to steal home with Thompson thwarting the rally when the next batter, Anthony Venezia, grounded out to Fusco at second base to end the frame.
Shaler also had runners on the corners with one out in the final inning, but Marlowe turned the game-ending double play with first baseman Jake Walters to preserve the victory.
“Alex has been pitching like that all season long so we’ve come to expect that kind of a performance from him,” DuraEdge coach Ken Tirpack said. “He threw well, our defense was exceptional and we hit when we needed to.
“Winning the opener is huge because Alex’s performance tonight kept us from using an extra arm and your backs aren’t against the wall. We’re fresh and healthy and ready to go.”
The tournament’s other local team, Creekside Fitness, will play its opening game today against Mars at 10 a.m. on Field No. 1.
Other scores on Thursday were: Shaler (Pa.) 8, T3 Rays 4; Longhorns 4, Kiski 1; Mars 12, Hagerstown 1; Longhorns 2, Warriors 1; Chambersburg 7, Beaver County 6 (9 innings).