BUSHKILL TOWNSHIP - Franklin Township's engine showed plenty of steam yesterday, but the hill proved a bit too steep to climb.
The Hurricanes got men on base but left them stranded. They got some big hits, but they weren't consistent enough to match the power shown by their opponent.
The result was, after making an incredible comeback Saturday night to qualify for the championship game, the Hurricanes fell to Bushkill, 12-5.
The Franklin Giants clawed their way to the championship finals through the losers bracket after falling to Phillipsburg in the first round of the Keystone Senior Babe Ruth playoffs. Bushkill was unbeaten in the tourney until they faced the Hurricanes Saturday.
In that Saturday contest, Franklin scored five late runs to gain a 6-4 win over Bushkill.
Yesterday, loyal Franklin fans hoped until the very end that another miracle comeback would occur. But it didn't.
Why didn't it happen?
"It's hard to put it on one thing," said Franklin head coach Rick Strohl. "It was hot. Our kids played good.
"But it's definitely hard to win a ball game when you strand so many people on base."
Franklin abandoned a total of 12 runners. Twice the Hurricanes left the bases loaded during their batting half of the inning. Two other times there were two base runners remaining when second and third outs happened.
The Hurricanes had the first lead of the game with a two-run third, but the Minutemen answered with a four-run bottom.
Franklin added one more in the fourth, but Bushkill added one, too.
In the fifth, Franklin scored another run, but when the Minutemen came to bat, they blew the game open with five runs, all coming after there was one out.
Bushkill coach Dave Tripp said he felt the pitching made the difference in the game.
"I think it was a little extra pitching lift," he said. "Their guys didn't get the key hits at the right time."
Mike Mulhearn was the starter for Bushkill. He left the game in the fourth with his team leading 4-2. He was relieved by Alex Kocher. Even though Kocher walked four straight batters in the fifth, but Tripp talked to him and he settled down. He didn't give up a walk after that.
Franklin took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third when Zack Knox laced a double and Dane Ciavarella followed with a triple. An infield single by Derek Heffelfinger brought Ciavarella home.
In the fourth, Franklin got another run when Heath Markley had a lead-off walk, and scored on a double by Dean DiBonifazio.
The fifth run happened when Heffelfinger walked, stole second, got to third on an error, and completed the circuit on a single by Heath Markley.
The last chance for Franklin was in the top of the seventh. With one out, the crowd was brought to its feet when Ciavarella made it to first on an error, and then stole second and third. He then scored on an error that let Heffelfinger get on base. A single by Cole Rex and then double steals by Heffelfinger and Rex put men on second and third with that lone out.
A strike-out and a ball hit to the pitcher ended the hopes and the season for the Hurricanes.
Knox went two for four, hitting doubles his first two times at bat.
Rex went two for three with two singles.
For Bushkill, Adam Reek was three for three, hitting a single, double, and triple...in that order. He walked his fourth time at the plate. Zack Huber and Matt Schlegel were both two for four, with one of Huber's hits being a run-scoring triple.
Bushkill will host Pocono Mountain to start their best-of-three championship series on Tuesday.
Franklin 002 110 1 - 5 8 2
Bushkill 004 152 x - 12 12 4
Matika, Rex (5), Dailey (5), Heffelfinger (1) and Shanton; Mulhearn, Kocher (4) and Schlegel. WP - Mulhearn. LP - Matika.