BROOKVILLE — Despite coming out strong and taking a 4-1 lead, the Rossiter Miners lost to the Brookville Grays, 5-4, in Game 4 of the Federation League semi-finals Thursday.
Game 5 will be played at 6 p.m. Saturday in Rossiter.
The series has become quite a heated one, and it is now even at two games apiece.
"These series get like that (between) Brookville and Rossiter; we're always neck and neck, even through the regular season," Rossiter manager Rick Matthews said. "We like to beat them, and they like to beat us. They usually get the best of us, but we'd like to turn that around."
The game began evenly for both teams, as they traded home runs during the first inning. During the top, Rossiter's Pete Meterko hit a home run to left field for his fourth homer of the season.
During the bottom, Brookville's Jed Fiscus barreled his first home run this season to virtually the same spot. The score was even at one.
The game then went scoreless during the second inning, and it was Rossiter that scored next. Kyle Neal was driven home by a triple from Miners No. 1 batter Jacob Stumpf.
The Miners' defense held the Grays to a third-inning shutout, despite Brookville's Cole Cook and Ben Marzullo reaching scoring position.
The Miners' bats found more balls during the top of the fourth, scoring two runs and increasing their lead to three. Mike Smiley hit a two-RBI single to left field, driving in Tyler Skerkavich and Devin Neal. Smiley got to second base on an error by the outfielder but was left stranded as Kyle Neal hit a grounder straight to the second baseman.
Brookville scored just two runs during its turn at-bat. Dan Walters hit a triple to left-center field and was scored by Dan Buzzard's sacrifice fly to the Rossiter's center fielder Stumpf. Cook drove in Joe Galbraith off a grounder down the third base line. After four complete innings, Brookville trailed by just one.
In the top of the fifth, Ryan Barrett came in to relieve Brookville's starting pitcher Dave Klepfer. Barrett retired his first three batters in a row.
The Grays offense helped Barrett by tying the score during its at-bat. Marzullo hit a double to right-center and was driven in by Eric Painter's RBI double.
Barrett continued to show his pitching abilities, retiring another three consecutive hitters.
He struck out two of the three batters in the sixth.
Dan Buzzard scored what turned out to be the winning run during the bottom of the sixth stanza. He was driven in by a sacrifice fly hit by Jed Fiscus.
Barrett secured the series-tying victory for the Grays. The only batter he allowed to reach base during the final inning was Kyle Neal, whom he walked. He once again struck out two of the four batters he faced before the game ended in a win for Brookville.
Matthews pointed to several errors the Miners made throughout Thursday night's game — areas on which he would like to see improvement before Saturday's Game 5.
"I mean, tonight, we hit the ball better," Matthews said. "We just need to start playing better defense and get some pitching."
Matthews expected to play Braeden Pennington, who has had a strong arm for Rossiter throughout the season, but Pennington unexpectedly was unavailable for Thursday's game.
Matthews hopes that having today off will help ease some of the pressure for both teams.
"That will help," Matthews said. "With this heat and three games in a row, that's a lot on everybody. We've got the same guys going out there night after night for both teams; it's difficult."
Matthews also stated the importance of a win in Game 5, which will put one team just a game away from the series victory.
"To get a home game Saturday, that's a must win," he said. "If we don't win a home game like that, it could be over."