CARMICHAELS — Chuck Gasti’s bases-loaded walk in the encroaching darkness at Carmichaels High School Monday night capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning that pulled the Copperheads into an 8-8 tie with visiting Oakland (Md.).
So, after nearly three hours of baseball, Game 2 of the Fayette County Baseball League was set to be replayed Tuesday evening at Carmichaels.
Oakland holds a 1-0 advantage in the series after a 2-1 victory in the opener on Sunday.
“We blew a three-run lead in the bottom of the lineup,” said Oakland manager Craig Bosely. “Compliments to them. They’re scrappy. It’s baseball.”
“The game is over and we start fresh,” said Carmichaels manager Dickie Krause.
The Oaks added what appeared to be the key insurance run for an 8-5 lead in the top of the seventh inning on an error.
But, the Copperheads had one final rally, with a little help from the visiting team, as the game moved past 8:30 p.m.
Nick Ricco started the inning with a single. Cory Ashby battled the dark sky to make an awkward, juggling, diving catch on Adam Simon’s fly ball to right field.
Pinch-hitter Joe Pacconi was hit on the foot for runners at first and second. Nick Pegg hustled down the line to avoid a game-ending double play.
Drake Long made the most of the hustle with a two-run double to center field. Gavin Pratt’s infield ground ball was mishandled and Jimmy Sadler was intentionally walked to load the bases.
The free pass came back to bite the Oaks when Chuck Gasti worked a walk from Luis Rodriguez to tie the game.
Clay Maholic ended the inning with a running grab towards the left field fence in the darkness on a fly ball hit by Brandon Robaugh, the ninth batter of the inning. Maholic’s catch stranded the bases loaded for the third time in the game for the Copperheads.
“This game was a perfect illustration. That team has a lot of veterans, experienced players, players in and out of college. Seven of our starting nine are 19 and under. We lost our composure and had lapses,” said Krause. “We lost our composure like young kids can be, but they came back. Give it to them.”
The Copperheads jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Long opened the inning with a double and advanced to third on Gavin Pratt’s single. Pratt moved to second on a wild pitch.
Both runners then sprinted home on Jimmy Sadler’s single. Sadler worked his way to third base on a stolen base and wild pitch. After Gasti walked, Sadler scored on Brandon Robaugh’s sacrifice fly.
Gavin Pratt struck out four runners in the top of the second inning after a mishandled third strike. He stranded two runners after an infield error.
Carmichaels extended its lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second inning after Pegg hustled into second for a lead-off double and came around to score on Sadler’s two-out single.
The momentum swung to the visitors in the third inning after scoring three runs on just one hit.
Rodriguez singled home courtesy runner Trevor Barnhart with no outs. Chris Green’s sacrifice fly scored Rodriguez. The third run of the inning came about after an infield throwing error.
The Copperheads were poised to get the runs back in the bottom of the inning after loading the bases with no outs.
Robaugh dunked a single down the right field line, Ricco walked and Reed Long was plunked in the chest as he attempted to bunt.
However, Green entered the game in relief of starting pitcher Ryan Valentine and left all three runners stranded with a strikeout, pop out to the catcher and infield ground out.
Oakland tied the game with a run in the top of the fourth inning.
Maholic started the inning when the left-handed batter squibbed an oddly spinning ball that Gasti helplessly watch roll over third base for an infield hit. He eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The lead — and the momentum — went back to Carmichaels at 5-4 when Sadler launched a ball over the right-center field fence for a solo home run.
The home run led to chirping and bantering between the teams, delaying the game for a few minutes.
The advantage was short-lived, though, with Oakland piecing together three hits and another error for two runs in the fifth inning.
The Carmichaels faithful thought it had an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play on a ground ball hit by Darrick Broadwater. Broadwater was ruled safe on the close play, extending the visitors’ at-bat. The first run scored on Maholic’s single and the second scored on an error.
The lead grew to 7-5 in the sixth inning when a run scored on a throwing error.
The Oaks had only five hits off Pratt and Robaugh, but Carmichaels committed five errors.
Carmichaels again left the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning after hits by Drake Long and Sadler, and a mishandled bunt, but all three were left stranded.