By DAN HINER
Avalanche 18U head coach Don Zeisler had a rough day on Tuesday.
To start the day, Zeisler’s oldest son traveled to Georgia to begin boot camp prior to his service with the Army.
Later he coached the Class B Avalanche to a 9-5 win over Creekside Fitness at Cene Park.
The win guaranteed the Avalanche a play-in game today for a playoff berth in this week’s playoffs.
“I [told the players] ‘I already lost one kid today to join the Army, I don’t want to say goodbye to the rest of you guys tonight,’” Zeisler said.
But Avalanche’s shot at the playoffs had some oddities.
The game, which lasted 3:18, featured a single where the batter was called out at first base and two lightning delays in the first two innings.
Neither umpire saw lightning, instead making the call after hearing thunder.
The lightning delays combined for 31 minutes of stoppage time, but the breaks took a toll on the players.
After the second delay, Avalanche starting pitcher Garrett Brewer said he lost some of his command when he returned to the mound in the bottom of the second inning.
“If I’d of had to wait another half hour or 15 minutes even ... that was the problem,” Brewer said. “We did the rain delay and I just lost the feel.”
Brewer regained his control and struck out eight in six innings of work. The West Virginia native allowed four runs on five hits and three walks.
The game was stopped again in the bottom of the third when Avalanche third baseman Peter Jameson attempted to make a sliding catch behind the pitcher’s mound on a short popup by Creekside’s Nic Ottaviani.
The ball popped out of Jameson’s glove and Ottaviani was ruled safe at first base. But the Ottaviani was called out seconds later after first baseman Jamin Wentling tagged him while walking back to first.
“[Jameson] caught the ball, [the first base umpire] didn’t call it out and then he called him out at first then safe at first and then out at first again,” Zeisler said.
“The officiating is just getting out of hand. They lost control of the game unfortunately.”
Avalanche (10-12) scored five runs in the top of the second, including a bases-clearing triple by Joe Bornes. Bornes finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Creekside (10-12) cut the lead to 5-4 following a three-run double by Nathan Stutz in the bottom half, but never took the lead.
Stutz went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a run scored and Lakeview’s Clay Lazzari hit an RBI single.
Creekside starter Brandon Fleeger allowed six runs, four earned, in six innings. He allowed seven hits and three walks and struck out six.
With the win, the Avalanche move into a four-way tie for a playoff berth. Avalanche will play either Creekside Fitness, Roth Brothers or Dura Edge today at Cene Park.