Miners ride Kachmar's arm to win in Cancer Awareness Tourney opener

ROSSITER — With a 2 p.m. contest against the Bigler Buccos Saturday, the Rossiter Miners opened their third-annual Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament with a bang — picking up a 9-1 victory behind a complete-game three-hitter by Dylan Kachmar and some lively hitting up and down the lineup.

Kachmar took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and over the final 5.2 innings, he was nearly unhittable, as he faced the minimum number of opposing hitters before Andy Turner picked up Bigler's third hit one out before the end of the game.

"My pitching staff is just top-notch right now," Rossiter manager Jim Dunlap said after the game. "Kachmar was clutch for us today. But on top of that, everybody went to the plate; they were hitting the ball. It makes you feel good to be out here for a good cause, and I always enjoy being around these guys. It makes me feel younger."

While the win was important for the Miners — who found themselves 1.5 games back of first-place Brookville entering Saturday's contest — the most important cause of the weekend was bringing the teams together for one cause — raising funds for the Walker's Warriors Relay for Life team.

In addition to proceeds from the concessions for the tournament going toward the Relay team's cause, a silent auction and a number of other small fund-raisers were being held throughout the weekend.

On the field, despite not allowing a hit in the first inning, Kachmar found himself and his team in a 1-0 hole after three two-out errors by the Miners put Bigler ahead 1-0 after the first half-inning.

Kachmar quickly set his opponent on the mound — Bigler starter Nate Bumbarger — down with a strikeout, and shortstop Pete Meterko made a nice play deep in the hole to throw out Christian Flood for the second out of the inning.

Unfortunately, on the next grounder, Meterko bobbled the ball and wasn't even able to get a throw off, as Frank Norris chugged down the line to reach on the error.

It appeared as if Kachmar had worked his way out of the inning again when he forced cleanup hitter Andy Turner to sky a mile-high pop up toward second base. But a miscommunication by the Rossiter infielders led to another runner reaching safely on an error.

Seeing that no one was covering third base, Norris made a mad dash toward the bag, and with Meterko rushing to cover, the throw in Meterko's direction was behind him, allowing the ball to hop to the fence and Norris to come in to score.

Kachmar made a heads-up play, covering third and just beating Turner to third base, applying the tag for the third out.

Down 1-0, though, the Miners — who were all sporting the same number on their pink jerseys, 15772 (the zip code of the town that loves and supports them) — didn't hang their heads, and they came together to answer with a pair of runs to take the lead for good.

Leadoff hitter Jacob Stumpf got things going with a bunt single down the third baseline with Flood playing deep behind the bag.

Stumpf stole second easily on a delayed steal, and sticking with the small-ball demeanor Dunlap has used all year, No. 2 hitter Kyle Neal laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Stumpf to third.

Meterko redeemed his first-inning fielding blunder by driving home the Miners' first run with an RBI single past Bigler second baseman Turner, and the Miners were in business.

After the game, Dunlap spoke about Meterko's maturity and his role as a leader on the team.

"We make mistakes, but we talk about it all the time. If we make a mistake, we start over and go on from there," Dunlap said. "Of course, we have Pete Meterko out there, and that certainly helps. Not only does he make some good plays to bail us out, but he also talks to the young guys and calms them down to let them do what they're capable of doing."

Austin Furman, recently moved to the cleanup spot for his hot hitting as of late, grounded out to the shortstop in his first at-bat, forcing Meterko to hold at second. But No. 5 hitter Dakota Bish stepped up to the plate — both literally and figuratively — and knocked in Meterko, who had advanced to third on a wild pitch, with a two-out single to left off the end of his bat.

Brodi Lowmaster was issued his first free pass of the day when he was hit by a pitch, but Bumbarger managed to force a high pop off the bat of Chad Davis, which he handled himself, to retire the side and minimize the damage.

From the second inning through the fifth, the story was similar for Kachmar, as he was perfect over the four-inning span, retiring the side in order each time and not allowing any walks or hits.

Meanwhile, Rossiter's bats continued to add on, with one in the second and a pair in the third.

The second-inning run came with the help of a fielding error on Bigler's part, when left fielder Anthony Jury had a chance to retire Kachmar on a well-struck ball to left-center field. The ball fell in and out of Jury's glove, and Kachmar ended up at second base with one out.

Bumbarger managed to force Stumpf into a groundout for the second out, but Neal came through with a two-out RBI double down the line in left — another ball that looked as if it could have been caught when it was hit.

Bish and Lowmaster scored Rossiter's third-inning runs, with Bish reaching via a one-out single just out of the second baseman's reach, and Lowmaster taking a walk to put a pair on.

Each runner moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch, and Bish came in to score on Davis' sacrifice fly to left field.

Taylor Neal added the host's fifth run when he connected on a two-out RBI single the opposite way, but Kachmar grounded to second to end the rally.

The scoreboard showed zeroes on both sides in both the fourth and fifth innings, with the only two baserunners being Meterko, who was hit by a pitch in the fourth, and Davis, who singled with two outs in the fifth.

Bigler picked up its first hit of the game in the top of the sixth, with Wes McGary pushing an opposite-field single between first baseman Lowmaster and second baseman Neal to end Kachmar's bid at a no-no.

Fueled by the hit, though, Rossiter still found a way to set the side down in order, as Bish caught McGary attempting to steal second when No. 9 hitter Jury fanned on an attempted bunt, and Kachmar struck out Jury and Bumbarger for the second and third outs, respectively.

Rossiter added four insurance runs in the home half of the sixth on just two hits, bringing eight to the dish.

Rich Matthews got it started with a pinch-hit walk, stepping in for Kachmar, and Stumpf was hit by a pitch to put a pair on.

Matthews and Stumpf showed off their wheels when a Bumbarger pitch got away from Bigler catcher Norris, and each runner advanced one base on the passed ball.

Neal plated the first insurance run on an RBI single to center, and Meterko drove in Stumpf with a productive out on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Furman came through with his first hit of the game to score Neal, and he advanced to second on a miscue by the left fielder.

On yet another passed ball, Furman moved up to third, and when the throw almost hit him, it got past Flood, and Furman came in to score the game's final run and put Rossiter ahead 9-1.

Bigler tripled its hit total in the seventh, but with the help of an outstanding throw by Rossiter left fielder Taylor Neal, Flood was gunned down trying to extend a triple to a double on the first hit.

Norris struck out for the second out of the inning, and Kachmar allowed a harmless single to Turner before retiring Kurtis Krise to round out the complete game and give Rossiter the win.

Dunlap had nothing but good things to say about his team's performance after the game, and with the way the Miners are firing on all cylinders — coming off a 4-3 win over first-place Brookville last Thursday — he couldn't help but look ahead to Sunday and beyond.

"Between the pitching staff, leaders like Pete (Meterko) and the way we're hitting the ball, I think we're in pretty good shape right now," he said. "It's a busy weekend, but we got the win today, and we have two-and-a-half (Sunday). If we can get two or three wins there, I'll like where we are sitting."

Sunday, the Miners topped NAPA Auto Parts 6-5 in the first game of the double header and 5-2 in the second contest.

Christian Muth closed out both games. He came in in the sixth inning of game one and the fourth inning of game two.

Furman had three hits on the day, Meterko also had three, and Neal had two.