Jefferson on short end of back-and-forth affair
PUNXSUTAWNEY — In a game that saw a pair of ties and three different lead changes, Jefferson Grocery came out on the short end of the stick against GKN of Fox Township 11-8 Friday evening in Punxsutawney.
It was GKN which jumped out to an early lead before Jefferson even had a chance to pull out its bats with a two-spot in the top of the first.
Hunter Fantechi started things with a one-out single in front of the left fielder, and he came all the way around to score on a two-out double that short hopped the fence in right.
Leonard moved to third on a wild pitch, and he scored GKN's second run on an RBI single by Kyle Huff before Jefferson starter Nick Voris struck out Kyler Lenox looking to end the inning.
Despite the early noise, Jefferson answered in a big way by doubling GKN's offensive output in its half of the first.
Jacob Tyger led off the inning with a walk and quickly stole second before moving up on an E-3 off the bat of No. 2 hitter Zach Moore.
Moore took his turn swiping second to put a pair in scoring position, and Brandon Douthit capitalized by plating them both on an RBI single up the middle to tie it at two.
Jefferson played small ball to score two more with Douthit moving to third on a stolen base and a wild pitch before a walk to Michael Cramer put runners on the corners.
Douthit was hung out to dry on a sharp comebacker by Voris to Huff for the first out of the inning, but Jefferson pushed Cramer and Voris home on an RBI groundout to first by Luke Meterko and a wild pitch.
Voris settled in during the second, setting the side down in order with a pair of Ks and a groundout to short.
And despite a leadoff single by Austin Troutman, Jefferson failed to plate one in the second, as he was doubled off on a nice catch and throw by GKN shortstop Lenox.
Moore managed a two-out single but was stranded there to end the threat.
GKN showed signs of life with two singles to start the third — one by Andy Geci and another by Fantechi — but the momentum sputtered as Voris forced the visitors into three straight grounders to get out of the inning unscathed.
Voris provided a spark in the bottom of the third with a one-out double to left hit so hard, it stuck in the fence, and with two outs, he scored on a pair of wild pitches — the first of which was ball four to Brett Buck.
Buck stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch that allowed Voris to score, but he was stranded there, and Jefferson had pushed its lead to 5-3 after three.
GKN's bats came to life in the fourth, and it brought nine hitters to the plate to regain its two-run lead with the rally starting at the bottom of the lineup.
No. 7 hitter Nate Dezanet started it with a one-out single, and after he stole second, he scored on an RBI single by No. 8 hitter Dakota Overturf.
Overturf moved to second on the throw home and took third on a passed ball before being driven in by the rollover No. 9 hitter Ryan Sennett.
Voris managed a pop out to come one out from ending the frame, but a two-out double off the top of the fence by Fantechi and two-out RBI singles by Krise and Leonard put GKN ahead by a pair, 7-5 after three-and-a-half.
With a little help from GKN, Jefferson tied it up in the home half.
Jacob Tyger started it off by hustling out a grounder to force an errant throw and an E5, and a two-out walk to Tyler Tipton put two on for Kramer — Jefferson's cleanup hitter.
Kramer hit a towering shot to left, so high it stayed in the park, and when the ball was misplayed in left field, Tyger and Tipton came around to score and tie it up at seven.
In the top of the fifth, the visitors took their third two-run lead of the night by tallying a pair of unearned runs off reliever Moore.
The inning started with an E-5 allowing Lenox to reach base, and a walk to Dezanet put two on with none out.
Moore battled back by striking out the next two, but GKN's success with two outs continued, as Geci came through with a two-out, two-RBI single.
Jefferson went down in order in the home half with the help of a rare 9-6 putout at second after a stray pickoff attempt at first.
A bobbled ball on a hard-hit shot by Leonard led off the sixth for GKN, but after Moore struck out Huff, a nifty 2-3-6 pickoff retired Leonard for the second out.
Lenox walked and advanced to third on a wild pitch and a stolen base. Dezanet and Overturf walked to load the bases, and reliever Troutman entered the game with three inherited baserunners on his plate.
One of those runners scored on a clutch hit by Sennett, but the second didn't make it across before Overturf was gunned down at third to retire the side.
Having reentered the game, Troutman led off the bottom of the sixth and walked, and Moore moved him to second with a single.
Troutman moved to third when an attempted pickoff off Moore skipped into right field, and Moore stole second uncontested.
With two outs, Kramer came to the plate and skied another to left. This one also stayed in play and was caught by Leonard, who had been moved to left in a defensive switch earlier in the inning.
GKN manufactured one more in the top of the seventy to push its lead to 11-7.
Fantechi singled with one out, moved to second on a steal and took third on a wild pitch to set up a sacrifice fly to deep center by Damon Krise.
Voris gave the home team hope in the home half with a leadoff single to center, and he advanced to second on a passed ball before Meterko walked on four pitches to put two on.
Meterko was retired on a sharp hit to right by Buck and a second 9-6 putout of the game on a play that plated Voris and cut the lead to three.
A one-out walk to Chris Stello moved Buck to second and brought the tying run to the plate in Troutman, but Krise managed to strike out his mound counterpart for the second out.
Krise retired Tyger for the third out on a popout to short, and the wind was taken out of the Jefferson comeback's sails.
Jefferson will play again today at noon at City Park in a make-up from a rained out affair earlier this season.