Miners pay respect to fans, begin with win
ROSSITER — Baseball has long been known as America's favorite pastime, and for a long time, the Rossiter Miners have been entertaining their small community and many faithful fans who come from outside the community.
Sunday evening, the Miners opened their Federation League schedule with an Opening Day contest against the Sykesville Senators with a 3-0 victory behind a strong pitching effort from Tommy Bush.
"Tommy threw an outstanding game for us," first-year Miners manager Jim Dunlap said after the game. "It's the only game I'll have him for all year. He's leaving for Missouri to play, and we threw him in there today. He just did a great job for us."
Before the game even started, though, the team paused to recognize and remember three members of the Miners family — fans and players — who died during the offseason.
The first fan recognized was Dorothy "Ockie" Shaffer, who was one of the Miners' biggest fans for years. A commemorative bench was placed by the pavilion where the fans often watched games and is painted with "Ockie."
Secondly, the team remembered Simon Meterko, who died just two weeks before the season started. Meterko's typical post was along the third baseline dugout, and his memory will long live on with the team.
Finally, the organization paid its respects to Gale Shields, a Rossiter resident who died at his winter home during the offseason. Shields played for the Miners across three decades.
After the pre-game program, Shaffer's brother, Gordon Shaffer, who was a former Miner himself, threw out the honorary first pitch to Pete Meterko, current Miners player and son of Simon.
When the game began, a pair of solid starting pitchers, Bush and Sykesville starter Dan Waskovich, went to work.
In the end, it would turn out that only one half inning on the scoreboard — a new scoreboard at Shaffer Field thanks to a senior project by Luke Janocha — would show anything but a zero.
All of Rossiter's runs came in the third inning, during which the Miners brought eight to the plate.
After the Miners were retired in order during the first two innings, No. 7 hitter Austin Furman led off the top of the third with a sharp single to right field.
After Furman stole second base, Taylor Neal walked, and Chad Davis moved each runner up one base with a sacrifice bunt.
Leadoff hitter Jacob Stumpf drove in the Miners' first run of the season with a single to left field.
After Neal just beat out the throw to third after the hit, Stumpf stole second to put two runners in scoring position.
With two outs, Meterko came through in a big way, connecting on a sharply-hit single that bounced off the first base bag to plate both Davis and Stumpf.
After the game, Dunlap pointed out that in addition to the clutch two-out two-RBI single, Meterko also played well in the field, as he recorded four putouts.
Tyler Skerkavich continued to put the pressure on, as he singled to move Meterko to third and moved to second on the throw in from the outfield.
But Waskovich managed to fan his counterpart Bush to bring the inning to a close.
"We got some runners on base, put the bat on the ball and scored some runs," Dunlap said. "That's how we'll play all year. We'll play small ball."
The Miners threatened in just one other inning, as Furman reached for the second consecutive time hustling out a dribbler that was booted by Sykesville third baseman Tom Hibbert.
Furman advanced to second on a stolen base and moved to third on the second error of the inning when the throw to catch him sailed into center field.
Waskovich worked out of the jam by striking out the next two hitters he faced, though, to end that threat, as well.
Bush allowed just three hits, but two of them were leadoff doubles to give a bit of life to the Senators.
In the second inning, Kasey Clinton led off the inning with a sharply-hit double down the left field line.
Clinton moved to third on a groundout by Hibbert, but was stranded there after Bush managed a strikeout and a putout of his own.
In the seventh, it was Hibbert who reached on a leadoff double to center field. But he would end up being stranded there as Bush fanned Jason Roman, got Drew Gordon to fly out to right and made Jude Lander ground out to third to end the game.
After the game, Dunlap — who picked up his first win in a Miners uniform, but has managing experience with the former Federation League team, the Punxsutawney Sandflies — was pleased with his squad's effort.
"We're young; we have some young kids this year," he said. "But I'm very happy with what they did, and if they continue to work hard, they'll get their playing time."
After briefly reflecting on the win, though, Dunlap's mind turned to Rossiter's next challenge.
"Sykesville's a good team," he said. "So, it's good to get a win against them. Now, we'll see what happens from here. We'll go to Brookville Tuesday and hope for another win there."
Rossiter's game against the Grays Tuesday will be a 7 p.m. start at McKinley Field, and the Miners will close out a busy week by hosting the DuBois Rockets — defending Federation League champions — Thursday at 6 p.m. at Shaffer Field.