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Rockets' rally falls short

May 19, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - James Buchanan's baseball team needed five runs in its final at-bat Friday to tie Gettysburg in a PIAA District 3-AAA play-in game.

The Rockets got four.

The last-ditch rally came close, but Vince Cristofano's blooper to right that at first looked promising instead was tracked down by right fielder Zach Michael for the final out of Gettysburg's 8-7 victory, ending JB's season.

Warriors reliever Drew Swomley struck out JB's 4-5-6 hitters in the sixth, and Sean Manahan's RBI single and D.J. Cool's RBI double helped give Gettysburg an 8-3 lead in the bottom half.

The Rockets (12-8) had one last burst in them. Chad Bernecker led off the seventh with a slow roller up the middle that Gettysburg could not make a play on. After Swomley notched his fourth strikeout, Pat Phillips crushed the first pitch he saw into the right-field gap for an RBI triple to make it 8-4.

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Pinch-hitter Josh Mills reached first on an error, and with two outs, Shane Rife sliced a double to right to score Phillips and move Mills to third. Christian Egolf followed with a two-run single to cut the lead to one, and advanced to second on the throw home, which was too late to get Rife.

Cristofano fell behind in the count 0-2, then sent a blooper out to right that Michael broke hard on, making a running catch at waist level to finally wrap up Gettysburg's win.

JB starter Josh McCauley and Warriors starter Phil Walter engaged in a pitchers' duel for 3 1/2 innings before Gettysburg broke through in the bottom of the fourth on Michael's two-run triple to center.

The Rockets answered in the fifth on Spencer Knoll's RBI single and Jeremy Socks' inside-the-park home run to dead center for a 3-2 lead. Socks' shot sailed over the center fielder's head, landing more than 400 feet from home plate, then rolled all the way to the fence more than 450 feet away.

Gettysburg reclaimed the lead at 5-3 in the bottom half. Travis Black tripled to left center, and a walk and two hit batters forced him in before Michael's double down the left-field line drove in two more.

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