Hits were definitely scarce over the first seven innings of play during the opening round Keystone Senior Babe Ruth League playoff game between Panther Valley and Towamensing on Monday night.
It wasn't until the eighth inning that there was a decent display of hits scattered across the baseball diamond.
With four consecutive hits, the Black Diamonds were able to push across not only the go-ahead run, yet some additional insurance runs to post a 6-3 victory over the Yankees.
Panther Valley will now play the Franklin Township Hurricanes at Jim Thorpe High School at 5:30 this evening.
Chris West watched Towamensing knock off his squad twice during the regular season. Over the the first seven innings of play, he saw things taking the same path as it did in those two games.
However, how things finally changed in the Black Diamonds' favor in a blink of an eye in a single extra inning of play with their season on the line in the single elimination tournament.
"We didn't draw any hits off of them for two games during the regular season and it took the same pattern today," West said. "We were just fortunate enough to hang in there and keep it close. We had the opportunity several times as we had base runners on. But, we just couldn't generate offense off of those base runners.
"Finally, in the last frame, we were able to scare some across."
After only seeing a Jake Kusko single in the second, a Frank Nietz double in the third and a Mark Williams' single in the seventh against the Yankees' starting pitcher Nick Frey and relief pitcher Zach Svetik, the Black Diamonds found open gaps in the Yankees' defensive front.
With one out, Jake Szczecina got things going with a single up the middle. Starting pitcher Nick Kweder pushed Szczecina into scoring position with a single. Then, Nietz collected his second extra base hit of the game with a two-run triple down the right field line, which in turn gave the Black Diamonds a 5-3 lead. Zack King added an insurance run with a RBI single to left-center.
It was the way West wanted to see his Black Diamonds finally handle things in that decisive inning of play.
"Frank came up big there," West said. "That was a huge hit for us with that shot down the line. And then Zach King came up, and I told them 'We have runners on. Relax. Relax and have fun up there at the plate. Don't put pressure on yourselves.'
"And, they did have fun that inning."
After that productive inning for the Black Diamonds, Kweder prevented the Yankees from rebounding in the bottom half of the inning.
After surrendering a single to Garrett Krome and a two-run single to Isaac George in the first, Kwedar had allowed just singles to Krome again in the third and to Nick Sander in the sixth.
In the eighth however, Kweder got his glove in the mix to prevent the Yankees from coming back. He was part of a 1-4-3 put-out for the first out when he got his glove on a liner from Steph Augustine, but Szczecina retrieved it and threw her out at first. Then, the Black Diamonds pulled a 4-3 ground out before Kweder capped the game off with his seventh strikeout to close the door on the Yankees' season.
"And, that was what he did, he closed the door on us after that first inning," Towamensing manager Don Hunter said. "He held our bats in check. We got some men on, but we couldn't score them. You know, you got to give them credit - they did the job.
"But, we had a good year. We had a winning year. We put together a seven-game winning streak in the middle of the season to make the playoffs. We have to take from that and build from that. And, we will."
Garret Krome led the Yankees with two singles, while Nietz paced the Black Diamonds with a double, triple, two runs scored and two RBIs.
Panther Vy. 100 010 13 - 6 7 2
Towamensing 200 001 00 - 3 4 0
Kweder and Gibbs-Buss; Frey, Svetik (6) and M. Sander. W - Kweder. L - Svetik.