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Good turns bad for Indians

May 05, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - On its good days, the Waynesboro baseball team was known for playing solid defense, good pitching and clutch hitting.

On the bad days, the Indians couldn't manage to do any of them.

On Wednesday, what started out as the best of days for Waynesboro ended up being the worst of them.

The Tale of One Season crashed to a halt as Waynesboro committed three errors to produce two unearned runs in the eighth inning, leading Big Spring to a 3-1 victory and eliminating the Indians from playoff contention and a piece of the Mid-Penn Colonial title.

The Indians (11-6, 8-4) relied on the pitching of Nick Wagaman and consistent defensive play - especially on the left side of the infield by third baseman Zach Helman and shortstop Scott Livengood - to maintain the 1-1 tie through regulation.

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Then, the bottom fell out.

"That was a good high school baseball game," Waynesboro coach Greg Chandler said. "We played so well and won five straight. Now we won five of six. Most of the time, that's great, but considering our situation, it wasn't enough. We needed this one to get into the playoffs and for the league title."

Waynesboro fell one win short of the nine needed to advance to the Mid-Penn playoffs.

Wagaman entered the eighth inning after allowing one run on five hits to match Big Spring starter Kyle Eversole pitch for pitch. The advantage swung quickly to the Bulldogs.

Chad Sheriff reached first on an error off a hot grounder that handcuffed Helman at third, then took second on Austin Kulp's sacrifice bunt.

Lance Miller followed with a grounder to Livengood, who air mailed his throw past first to allow the go-ahead run to score.

After Louie Reese was intentionally walked, Garret Piper singled home Miller with the insurance run.

"That was pretty uncharacteristic of us over the last seven or eight games," Chandler said. "The pressure of the game gets to you sometimes. That's the game of baseball. If you ever figure it out ..."

The Indians attempted to rally as Ryan Hight and Livengood each singled off Eversole to lead off Waynesboro's half of the inning. With the tying run on, Chandler elected to have clean-up hitter Andrew Caron lay down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position.

Helman grounded to short, keeping the runners on second and third. Big Spring intentionally walked Nathan Minnich to load the bases before Eversole got Matt Anderson to pop up to first base to end the game and - for all intents and purpose - the season for the Indians.

"I went to the bunt because we needed to get the runners in scoring position and to avoid the double play," Chandler said. "(Helman's) was a big at-bat and then they were able to walk Minnich after that. That's the way we play baseball. Still, I'll always wonder if I should have let him swing away. We couldn't read their pitcher ... he was definitely the difference in the game."

The loss labeled the Indians' season as a near miss. Waynesboro started the season quickly, but then hit a lull of five straight losses which looked to take it out of playoff contention. But then, the Indians reeled off five straight wins to put the added emphasis on Wednesday's game.

What had gone up for the Indians went back down in the eighth inning.

"We've played as well as I've ever seen ... And then, there was the flip side," Chandler said. "There were times when we pitched, hit and played defense and then there were times we didn't look good. But I'm proud of these kids for what they did the last six games. They lost five games in the middle of the season and a lot of teams would have lost everything. I'm just proud of all these kids."

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