FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP Tamaqua's Casey Rother started the game with a bang and ended it the same way and what he did in between wasn't too shabby either.
Tamaqua needed every bit of Rother's big game to hold on for a 12-10 victory over Pennridge in the loser's bracket of the Section 6 10-11 year old Little League Tournament on Friday night.
Rother had two home runs, a single, scored four runs and drove in four runs.
"I've been in a pretty good hitting grove during all-stars," said Rother, who has now belted five postseason home runs. "This is the first time I've ever hit two home runs in the same game.
"Coach [Charlie] Kistler is always telling us to make sure we get a good pitch to hit so that's what I tried to do. The first time up their pitcher gave me a fastball on the first pitch and I was able to hit it pretty hard. In the sixth inning, their relief pitcher was throwing a lot of curves so I went up looking for one and I was able to stay back and make good contact."
Rother wasn't the only Tamaqua batter flexing his muscles, however, as Josh Inama, Cody Scherer and Zeke Wassell also went deep in the game.
"That's the best we've hit since all stars began," said Tamaqua head coach Charlie Kistler. "I've been waiting for us to explode like this because we have some very good hitters and a lot of kids who have power.
"Tonight, we came out aggressive with our bats in the first inning to build a lead and then when it was tight in the sixth inning we got some more hits to open up some breathing room."
It turned out that Tamaqua needed everyone of its insurance runs.
Leading 7-5 heading to the sixth, Tamaqua scored five times. An infield single by Riley McHugh and Scherer's two-run bomb got things started. Thad Zuber then walk and Rother followed with his second homer of the night. Wassell capped the outburst with a towering solo shot to leftcenter field.
But Pennridge wasn't going down without a fight.
Four hits, an error, a walk and a hit batsman produced five runs and left the tying runs on second and third with just one out. But relief pitcher Inama, the third Tamaqua pitcher of the night, got a pop out and an infield grounder to end the threat.
"Teams don't get to this stage without being talented," said Kistler. "We know Pennridge was a good team and was going to battle to the final out.
"It got a little close at the end, but I'm proud of how our kids found a way to pull out the win."
Rother said the Tamaqua players are getting used to exciting finishes, although a little less drama might not be such a bad thing.
"Yeah, I was getting a little nervous in bottom of the sixth inning," said Rother. "They made it interesting, but that seems like the way all of our games have been lately.
"I guess we're getting used to these types of finishes, but It would be nice if we could get a couple of wins that weren't so close at the end. But just so we keep winning them, I guess we'll take them any way we can get them."
The way Tamaqua started the game, it didn't look like there was going to be much drama. Five of Tamaqua's first six batters scored runs as it built a 5-0 first-inning lead. Two-run homers by Rother and Inama were the key blows.
But things are never as easy they appear.
Pennridge provided part of the problem as it scored four times in the second inning to get right back in the game. Then problems with the lights at the Franklin Township Little League field contributed to a little more drama as three different delays all of at least 15 minutes contributed to a game that lasted nearly three hours.
In the end, however, Tamaqua had earned the right to play another day.
That day will be today as Tamaqua gets a rematch with Stroudsburg at 7:30 p.m. Stroudsburg rallied to edge Tamaqua, 8-7, in the opening game of the tournament. The winner of that game will have to beat Warwick twice to capture the Section championship.
Tamaqua 501 015 - 12 11 1
Pennridge 041 005 - 10 11 6
Rother, Scherer, (3), Inama (6) and Inama, Scherer (3), Kistler (3). Walters, Knouse (3), Simpson (6) and Wright. W-Scherer. L-Walters. HR - Tamaqua: Rother 2 (1st, one on; 6th, one on); Inama (1st, one on); Scherer (6th, one on); Wassell (6th, none on).