DANVILLE Maybe it was a convoluted way of looking at the fifth-inning situation for Jersey Shore, but there was some basis behind it.
It's not that the Bulldogs were necessarily happy to see Danville ace pitcher Andrew Andreychik come into the game to try and quell Shore's best scoring opportunity, but they didn't fear the senior right-hander. Jersey Shore had already scored four runs off Andreychik in the teams' first meeting to help turn a six-run deficit into a win.
And Saturday, the team that likes to hit fastballs, saw plenty of them against Andreychik. It was a vast change from Ironmen soft-tossing left-hander Mike Ramsey who threw four-plus innings of stellar baseball by utilizing location and a good breaking ball.
Jersey Shore once again turned a deficit against Andreychik into a win yesterday, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 4-1 win which pushed Danville closer to the brink of missing the postseason. Jersey Shore can now clinch the HAC-I championship with a win over Milton on Monday. Danville, which has scored just six runs in its last six games, needs to win five of its final six games to qualify for the postseason.
"That's what good teams do," Danville coach Devin Knorr said of Jersey Shore hitting Andreychik. "They were prepared to hit him."
The change was a welcome sight for a Jersey Shore team that had just one hit against Ramsey. And that one hit was a bunt single by Ryan Koch in the fourth inning.
After walking a pair of batters in the first inning but working around the trouble, Ramsey retired 10 in a row. He struck out seven in his four-plus innings of work and was pulled after giving up a walk and a single to the bottom third of Jersey Shore's lineup in the top of the fifth inning.
Ramsey had done a great job of making Trevor Leitzel's second-inning, RBI single stand up for the Ironmen. Although his fastball was anything but overpowering, Ramsey kept it down on the outer half of the plate to get strikeouts.
"I think the scouting report is that we can't hit curveballs, so that's probably why he threw them," Jersey Shore first baseman Zach Miller said.
"Mike was starting to tire out," Knorr said. "He's only had two appearances this year and they were seeing him for a third time. In hindsight could we have let him in there for a little bit? Maybe. But Andrew's been our go-to guy all year and we'll take our best against their best every day. Their best came out on top."
Shore's Ryan Huling greeted Andreychik with a ringing first-pitch single to center field to score Galen Greider. After Colton Potter flew out to right field on the first pitch to advance the runner to third, Kaiden Brungard smoked the first pitch he saw down the right-field line to score Eric Huling.
"We're a fastball hitting team," Miller said. "We got those fastballs and we just jumped on them. We got a first-pitch fastball and turned on it."
After Andreychik got a strikeout for the second out, Miller hit the second pitch he saw for a two-run single. It took Jersey shore just 10 pitches and five batters to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead.
"It's always nice when the pitcher is supplying the power," Jersey Shore head coach Matt O'Brien said. "Andrew was putting a lot behind it and that's why a lot of those hard ground balls are getting through as opposed to the first four inning they were going right to fielders. It was sit fastball and react (to offspeed)."
Jersey Shore starter Travis Eiswerth ran into some two-out trouble with a single and a walk in the bottom of the fifth, but worked out of it when he got Danville cleanup hitter Matt Patterson to ground into a force out to end the inning.
From there, Bulldogs ace Tellef Notevarp, who threw just 28 pitches Friday night against Montoursville in a game halted by a thunderstorm, was able to shut down the Ironmen. He stranded a Danville runner at second in the sixth inning.
And in the seventh inning, Danville put two runners on base in front of Andreychik and Patterson. Andreychik struck out on a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner. Patterson then flew out on a 3-1 pitch to center field to end the game.
Eiswerth and Notevarp combined to hold Danville to just five hits. The Ironmen have scored just one run in its last three games. Saturday, Danville stranded eight runners on base, six in scoring position.
"Seems every time we got out we give ourselves opportunities, but we don't capitalize," Knorr said. "I'm as frustrated as every guy on that team. The bottom line is we're running out of time. We put ourselves in a really bad position. We've got to win five of six to get in (to the playoffs). That's tough to do in our league."
Jersey Shore shortstop Colton Potter kept Danville's one-run second inning from being even more damaging with a tremendous diving stop in the hole between shortstop and third. He got to his feet and threw out nine-hole hitter Nick Levan by a step to end the inning.
Had the ball gotten through it was going to be an easy two-run single for a 3-0 lead and Danville would have turned the lineup over. Instead, Jersey Shore trailed by just one run.
"That was the turning point. That was two runs and kept the inning going," O'Brien said. "I think he made two or three plays that ended an inning that were big."
"The approach at the plate was right, it was just a great defensive play," Knorr said. "In baseball you can do things very, very well and not have it work out for you. Other times you don't have your best stuff and things fall in your favor. We had opportunities and didn't capitalize."
Jersey Shore000 040 0 4 5 2
Danville010 000 0 1 5 0
Travis Eiswerth, Tellef Notevarp (6) and Ryan Koch. Mike Ramsey, Andrew Andreychik (5) and Matt Patterson.
W-Eiswerth. L-Ramsey. S-Notevarp.
Top Jersey Shore hitters: Kaiden Brungard, 1-4, RBI; Zach Miller, 1-3, 2 RBIs; Ryan Huling, 1-2, RBI, run. Top Danville hitters: Tyler Grubb, 1-1; Trevor Leitzel, 1-3, RBI.