FCV had played near perfect baseball for over a month. But on Monday Even some of the simplest things were a challenge for the Creekers and Millcreek made them pay.
FCV had a pair of crucial blunders in the field, stranded eight runners on the bases and issued a total of 10 free passes as it fell to Millcreek, 6-1, in the winner’s bracket final of the Pennsylvania American Legion Region 8 baseball tournament at Ed Acker Field.
“We made a lot of mistakes … mental mistakes,” FCV coach Brandon Crum said, “Things we haven’t done all year. But every team has those games. We haven’t had a loss in 34 days. Our time was coming. That’s why you play the game. That’s baseball.”
FCV’s biggest mistakes came in the first inning. Alex Margraf led off the inning with a routine groundout to pitcher A.J. Thompson. But Matt Sardini and Bobby Roach followed with back-to-back walks then advanced to second and third, respectively, on a wild pitch.
Kevin Stoicovy drove home Sardini with a groundout to second base. Corey Anderson followed that up with a sharp grounder to third baseman Luke Carter for what should have been the third out of the inning. But the ball skipped off Carter’s glove, allowing Roach to score, giving Millcreek a 2-0 lead. Roach did the rest from the mound.
“Some of your shortcomings seem to find you at the most inopportune times,” Crum said. “That’s what happened.”
FCV did work a pair of walks from Roach through the first three innings. But Roach didn’t allow a hit until the second inning when Carter smashed the ball down the left field line for a double with one out. Carter was subsequently picked off at second base, though, and R.J. Baker grounded out to second to preserve Millcreek’s 2-0 lead.
Millcreek scored its third run in the top half of the fourth inning on an error by shortstop Stephen Sada. It added a run each in the seventh and eighth innings. Tommy Kocur, who reached on the sixth walk issued by FCV pitching, scored in the seventh on a single by Luke Nientimp. Stoicovy singled and scored on a basehit by Kocur in the eighth.
FCV had multiple chances to cut into Millcreek’s lead. In fact, FCV had at least one baserunner in each of the last five innings. Carter nearly made it a game in the sixth inning when he drove a ball to the 380-feet sign in dead center field with runners on first and second. But Stoicovy made it to the fence just in time to make the catch for the second out of the inning. R.J. Baker popped out to second base to end the frame.
Thompson singled, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball to lead off the seventh inning, but was stranded.
In the eighth inning, Adam Bronson had a one-out single. Austin Scere then smashed a ball straight up the middle that clipped Roach’s wrist. Roach was able to recover and make the throw to first base for the out before leaving the game. Carter followed with another smash up the middle that reliever Ryan Platz was also able to knock down for the third out.
It wasn’t until the ninth inning that the Creekers were finally able to get on the board.
Tyler Walters led off the frame with a pinch hit walk and was replaced by pinch runner Hunter Johnston. Thompson followed with his second hit of the evening, a single to left-center. Dakota Tabar moved the runners over on a grounder to shortstop that he nearly beat out at first base.
Tylor Williams then delivered with a sacrifice fly, scoring Johnston to make the score 6-1. The rally ended with a groundout to second base.
“I still think we’re in a good position,” Crum said. “We just have to come out, put our pants on and play baseball. That’s something we didn’t do today.
“We’ll move past this. Millcreek mastered the fundamentals and we lacked the fundamentals. That’s what wins ballgames.”
FCV will face Wilcox today at 1 p.m. FCV’s season comes to an end with a loss. It needs three more wins to capture the Region 8 crown. Millcreek faces Albion, which survived elimination yesterday with a 15-3 win over Northwest Savings, today at 4 p.m.
Thompson took the loss on the mound for FCV. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs — three earned — on five hits with eight walks and two strikeouts.
Roach pitched 7 2/3 innings for the win. He allowed no runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Kocur was 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.