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Craving a little contact

Jamison's head-long dash on bang-bang play pays off in Wildcats' win

Jamison's head-long dash on bang-bang play pays off in Wildcats' win

April 11, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

WILLIAMSPORT - There A.J. Jamison was, in No Man's Land.

It's that location between Easy Street and the rock and a hard place. This time, Jamison would have GPSed just off the third-base bag - 80 feet from home plate - as the lead runner of a first-and-third situation with no outs in a tie game in the bottom of the seventh.

The defining moment came on contact of a pitch off Aaron Hershberger's bat. It was now or never ... or a second later.

Jamison went a snap past a snap decision and headed for home on a grounder booted by Tuscarora shortstop Antonio Irizarry. The Williamsport baserunner dived into home just ahead of the throw and the tag Tuesday to score the winning run, lifting the Wildcats to a 5-4 win with the help of the final-inning heroics.

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"It was all instincts there," Jamison said. "A good throw would have got me there. As soon as (Hershberger) hit the ball, I knew I was going."

But Jamison's legs didn't seem to know it.

The grounder went to Irizarry, who was drawn in, and deflected off his glove to the third-base side. Jamison jumped on the boot and sprinted for the plate. Irizarry's throw was high and Jamison lunged for the plate safely, under the tag.

"It was just bust butt to home plate," Jamison said. "If I was out, we still had a runner at second with one out. It was a win-win situation. We just got it tonight."

The other spot in No Man's Land is somewhere between the coach's pedestal and doghouse. Jamison wasn't as quick on his feet as coach Larnie Vickers would have liked.

"He should have gone on contact, but he waited," Vickers said from his point of view. "We tell them to go immediately or get back to the base. He was worried about there being no outs, but he got there."

It put an end to a game that Willamsport controlled but nearly let get away. The Wildcats took a 3-0 lead in the first and nursed the advantage until the top of the seventh, when the Titans scored the tying run.

"We were looking for the contact play there, but I wasn't thinking we would be still playing that part of the game," Vickers said.

Jamison led off the seventh with a single to left off Tuscarora reliever Shaun Long and stole second base. After Chad Bikle singled Jamison to third, Hershberger hit the grounder to short and Irizarry to start the finishing sequence.

The final play overshadowed the complete-game victory by sophomore pitcher Andrew Dagenhart and a three-RBI game of Travis Sluger, who provided the Wildcats with leads of 3-0 and 4-2.

Dagenhart handled the Titans despite some struggles in the later innings. He was touched for two runs without the benefit of a hit in the fourth, set up by two walks to start the inning.

Tuscarora had back-to-back doubles by Brandon Whipp and Irizarry to score in the sixth before tying the game in the seventh when a leadoff error by Bikle as short turned into Nick Meekins' RBI single.

"He's only a 10th grader, but he threw well," Vickers said. "He got ahead in the count and let his defense do the work behind him. We were a little worried because his pitch count was in the 90s in the seventh, but we let him out there and he threw well."

Dagenhart allowed three earned runs on six hits while walking three and striking out five.

Sluger hit a two-run double to cap Williamsport's three-run first, following Hersheberger's bases-loaded walk off Meekins. Sluger added a sacrifice fly in the fifth to give Dagenhart a two-run cushion.

Bikle finished 3-for-3 and Jamison added two hits in Williamsport's eight-hit attack.

"We have a young team," Vickers said. "There are a lot of juniors and some sophomores. We are still trying to figure out our lineup."

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