Nearly two weeks ago, the Franklin Township Shockers only needed five innings to earn a commanding victory over the Panther Valley Black Diamonds.
Monday night, however, Shocker coach Don Rehrig found out his instincts were correct as his team needed an extra inning to pull out a 6-5 victory over the Black Diamonds.
Shortly after the game, Rehrig approached Black Diamonds' manager Chris West, patted him on the back, and said to him, "I told you that you had a better team than that."
Rehrig was refering to the discussion after the Shockers' 15-1 victory over the Black Diamonds back on June 6th.
"I know they're competitive kids," said Rehrig, of the turnaround in the Black Diamonds's play compared to the game in Lansford. "I know they didn't play a good game the first time. I even told our kids that I knew we would get their best efforts the second time.
"It's kind of like you beat a team like that the first time, you come back and you think you're going to walk all over them again. Well, we didn't. Hats off to them, coming back, battling, not hanging their heads, they gave it their all. But a win is a win. We will take it."
The Black Diamonds showed the Shockers they were ready to play as a Luke Stano RBI single and a Jake Szczecina bases loaded walk produced pair of first-inning runs.
The Shockers answered in the bottom half of the inning when James Farano's RBI single and an Alex Storm sacrifice fly tied the game.
Franklin Township looked like it was taking control again as it built a 5-2 lead after four innings. But Stano settled down on the mound for the Black Diamonds and kept his team within striking distance.
That proved important as Panther Valley rallied for three runs in the seventh to tie the game. Pinch-hitter Clay Brown led off with a single and Jake Kusko followed with another single to put runners on first and second with no outs. After a flyout to left field, Nick Kweder was hit by a pitch. Zach King drew a bases loaded walk to score pinch runner Pat Owens.
Stano helped himself out by blooping a hit to left field for what turned out to be a two-run double. However, Shockers' left fielder Jordan Knappenberger gunned King out at third to prevent more damage by the visitors.
The scored remained tied until the bottom of the eighth when the Shockers' Anthony Rossino led off with a bunt single. James Farano drew a walk. Jordan Knappenberger then attemped a sacrifice bunt, but Rossino beat the throw to third to load the bases with no one out.
Alex Storm delivered what looked like a sacrifice fly to center to end the game. But Black Diamonds' centerfielder Frank Nietz begged to differ as a he came up throwing after making the catch and nailed Rossino at home. The Shockers ended the game a couple of pitches later, however, as Farano trotted home on a wild pitch.
While it wasn't the way Black Diamond manager Chris West wanted to see things end, occurences during the game made it easier for him to swallow the loss.
West said. "I think we had eight errors in our first game against them," said West. "Our pitching wasn't poor, but when you have a pitcher who's not getting any support from his defense you dig a hole that you can't get out of.
"When we ended that game and I talked to the team. So, when we showed up today, we had a different attitude, had a different outlook. We came prepared mentally. I was proud of our effort. We lost to the Shockers in the playoffs last year on the same exact play - a ball that hit the front of the plate and bounced in the air. So, there's some kind of mojo going on here, but it was a great baseball game."
Bl. Diamonds 200 000 30 - 5 7 3
FT Shockers 210 200 01 - 6 9 1
Stano and Gibbs-Buss; Wenrich, Hill (6), J. Farano (7) and Farole. W - J. Farano. L - Stano.