Lansford manager Tim Goida had a feeling his Lansford players could pull through when he needed them the most.
And they did.
A combination of solid relief pitching from Wyatt Zimmerman and some outstanding defensive plays helped Lansford stall a Jim Thorpe rally to pull out a 9-8 victory and move on in the District 18 11-12 tournament.
Lansford will now play at Valley West in the winner's bracket final on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Jim Thorpe hosts Palmerton/Towamensing today at 6 p.m. in an elimination game.
With the score tied at 5-5, Zimmerman and Ronnie Distler delivered two-run homers in the top of the seventh to give Lansford a four-run lead entering the bottom half of the seventh.
"This is a game I wish I could watch over and over and over again," Goida said. "It's two games in a row now with Franklin Township and Jim Thorpe that both games came down to runners on base and our guys performed.
"In the bottom of the seventh, it would have been very easy for Tristan to field that ground ball and throw it over the first baseman's head. But he took his time and made a good throw and we got the final out. I couldn't be any happier right now. I really couldn't."
In a game that exchanged leads four times, it was the extra inning that told the story.
In the seventh inning, Zimmerman and Distler showed teammate Tristan Blasko, who drilled a solo home run on the very first pitch he saw in the first inning, that they could display power themselves.
"Wyatt probably has about 10 or 12 home runs this year," said Goida, who has seen seven different players go yard this season. "He has hit a few lately and I was kind of waiting for another one. He struggled early at the plate in his first two or three at-bats. But I knew he was due and he came through.
"It was Ronnie Distler's first home run of his career. You couldn't ask for a better time for his to come."
Jim Thorpe gave Goida and his Lansford crew a scare, however, in the bottom half of the inning. Regardless of being down 9-5, Jim Thorpe wasn't ready to surrender.
Zac Searfoss and Trevor Hickey drew back-to-back walks to start the inning and Nate DeMarco was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Searfoss scored Thorpe's third run on a wild pitch and then Darrin Beckham, who struck out twice in two previous at-bats, delivered an RBI single to score Hickey.
Noah Snisky then reached base on a throwing error. Shortly afterwards, DeMarco was able to score on a Jake Schwartz fielder's choice. Beckham attemped to do the same, but Mason Goida got his hand on the ball in time to tag him before he touched home plate.
Zimmerman got Nate Sax to ground to Blasko at third for a fielder's choice to end the game.
The loss may have ended Jim Thorpe stay in the winner's bracket, but manager Brad DeMarco has faith in his players to come through and succeed in the near future.
"We were down by four, but they never quit at all," DeMarco said. "I just don't know what else to say. It was a great played baseball game. It just wasn't our day for the victory.
"There's no reason why we can't come back through the loser's bracket. We have quality pitching. We are ready for whoever we have to face next."
Distler led Lansford with a single, double, homer, run scored and three RBIs, while Anthony Prudente had with two singles, a double and a run scored. Blasko finished with a single, homer, two runs scored and two RBIs.
Nick Rosahac, Hickey (a double), Nate DeMarco, Beckham, Nate Rosahac and Nate Sax accounted for Jim Thorpe's six hits.
Lansford 013 001 4 - 9 11 4
Jim Thorpe 202 001 3 - 8 6 1
Blasko, Distler (4), Zimmerman (7) and Goida; Searfoss, Hickey (7) and Snisky. W - Zimmerman. L - Hickey. HR: Lansford - Blasko (1st, none on), Zimmerman (7th, one on), Distler (7th, one on).