Miners protect house, series heads back to Brookville all square

ROSSITER — It is often said that the tide hasn't turned in a series until one of the teams loses at home. And after the Brookville Grays dropped the Rossiter Miners on their own field Sunday evening, Rossiter protected its ground Tuesday evening at Shaffer Field in Rossiter with a 5-2 victory to even the series and send it back to Brookville tonight even at one game each side.

Rossiter saw a strong pitching outing from starter Sean Smith, who pitched four shutout innings before a pair of fielding blunders in the fifth allowed two unearned runs, and reliever Austin Furman finished things off for the home squad, retiring all five hitters he faced.

As Rossiter manager Jim Dunlap pointed out after the game, the defense behind Smith and Furman was also a strong point for the Miners.

"Smitty is just unbelievable and has been all year," Dunlap said. "Austin came in and closed things out for us; we had two double plays; Dakota Bish is throwing guys out at second. We're happy with where we're at heading into (today's) game."

Brookville got things started with a leadoff single up the middle off the bat of Rick Shaffer, but Rossiter first baseman Christian Muth made a great scoop on a one-hopper to start what would end up a 1-6-3 double play against Danny Walters.

Smith got No. 3 hitter Cole Cook to fly out to Furman in right for the third out of the inning, and Rossiter wasted no time drawing first blood.

Jacob Stumpf — who finished the day with three hits — picked up his first on a sharply-hit single over the third baseman's head. Kyle Neal laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Stumpf to second, and Pete Meterko moved him to third on what appeared to be a hit down the first base line before first baseman Jed Fiscus snagged it for an unassisted putout.

With two outs, though, designated hitter Rick Bishop — hitting for Smith — came through with a long RBI single off the top of the fence in left field to plate Stumpf and give Rossiter a 1-0 lead.

Fiscus led off the top of the second with a walk, but a 6-4-3 double play — Rossiter's second in as many innings — off the bat of Kent Shick gave the Miners two quick outs, and a fly out by Nick Bishop to center ended the frame with the Miners clinging to a 1-0 edge.

Brookville starter Brandon Bell — who had entered the game with a 0.77 earned run average — managed to keep it a one-run ball game by hanging an egg on Rossiter in the second with the only damage being a two-out single by Muth, who was stranded at second after stealing the base.

Brookville picked up a pair of singles off the bats of Nate Simpson and Zac Roller, but after the pair moved up to second and third on a chopper in front of the plate by Shaffer, Simpson was retired on a nice hustle play by the Rossiter battery. Catcher Dakota Bish hurried to a passed ball and flipped to Smith, who tagged out Simpson to retire the side.

Stumpf led off the bottom of the third with a single to left, and he hesitated before stealing second base on a delayed steal with Neal in the box. Neal sacrificed himself again, moving Stumpf to third with a well-placed bunt, and Meterko short-hopped the fence just shy of the 380 sign to plate Stumpf. Meterko strolled into second for a double, and when the throw from center went astray, he moved up to third, where he was stranded after Bishop and Jordan Mesoraco were set down on a 4-3 putout and a pop up to third, respectively.

Brookville went down in order for the third time in four tries in the fourth, with Smith striking out Walters and getting Cole Cook and Fiscus to fly out, and Rossiter got right back to it in the home half, putting up its only crooked number of the game with a two-spot.

Furman got things rolling with a one-out single over the glove of the leaping Joe Galbraith at second, and when Bell tried to pick him off at first, the throw got away, and Furman ended up all the way at third base.

Muth followed with a walk to put a pair on, and No. 9 hitter Chad Davis plated the Miners' third run with a sacrifice fly to left field.

Stumpf kept up his solid night at the plate, driving in Muth with a double to the fence in left-center, and with the Rossiter lead at four runs, Brookville manager Bob McCullough opted to lift his starter for Shick.

Shick retired the first hitter he faced — Neal — on a flyout to center to end the run, but the damage was done, and Rossiter was ahead by four.

The fifth looked promising for Brookville, as Shick led things off with a double to left field, but Nick Bishop hit a hot one back to the mound and Smith caught Shick in a rundown and retired him. After that, Meterko made a nice play tracking a looper to left field and gloving it for the second out, and Bishop was caught attempting to steal second.

Meterko helped the Miners manufacture an insurance run in the fifth with a leadoff triple to the fence in right field, and Bishop earned his second RBI of the night with a single over the shortstop's head.

Mesoraco followed with another single to put two on, and a hit batsman issued to Furman with one out loaded the bases for the Miners. But a lazy pop fly off Muth's bat and a swinging third strike to Davis ended the threat with Rossiter ahead by five.

Brookville capitalized on a pair of fielding miscues in left to put up two runs in the top of the sixth highlighted by an RBI triple by Shaffer, but after the first two crossed the plate, Dunlap turned to Furman, who retired the first two he faced to end the mini rally.

Rossiter went down in order in the sixth at the hands of closer Ryan Barrett's arm, as he struck out the first two he faced and earned a 4-3 putout to get out of the jam.

But Furman answered back with a 1-2-3 inning of his own to seal the deal and even the series.

"We hit pretty well today; we were hitting it hard and hitting it deep," Dunlap said. "We're tied up now at one game apiece, and it's even. We'll go to Brookville (tonight) and try to steal one over there."

First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight at McKinley Field in Brookville.