Liners furious rallies lead to stunning comeback win over Watchung Hills
The dreaded post Easton game. For years the Phillipsburg Stateliners have struggled to win their game immediately following Easton, regardless of winning or losing the rivalry game. Well prepared for the Easton hangover, Coach Dylan Sapirman was armed and ready with a new look lineup infused with new energy. Surely this would cure the post Easton blues. The strategy worked so well that Pburg found itself losing 7-0 after three innings. The conditions were optimal for hitting and the ball was flying. With Watchung threatening to run rule Pburg and send them home moping, Baby Rick took the ball in the 3rd inning to try to just give his batters a chance. And Baby Rick did just that. In the bottom of the 5th, still losing 7-0 Farmer Ray and New Kid Jake Donofry hit hard ground balls that forced errors and Pburg had a minor threat. Money Martin stepped up to the plate and delivered an RBI single to put the LIners on the board. Stanskid followed with an RBI single of his own and human baseball magnet #1 Nick Helman wore a pitch and Pburg had the bases loaded with nobody out. For the first time all day Pburg had a real shot at getting back in the game. After two strikeouts it appeared the Liners may have squandered a golden opportunity. But a wild pitch enabled Martin to do what he's best at, and that's go home. Down 7-3 and desperate for a hit to plate two more runners, Lil Mac delivered in a big way with a hard ground ball up the middle to bring Pburg within 2 runs, down 7-5. The tying run came up to the plate in the form of the Invisible Farmer who tatooed a ball to center but not quite deep enough. The pesky Warriors from Watchung tacked on two runs to take a commanding 9-5 lead and Pburg was running out of time. The scored remained 9-5 when Billy Billy stepped into the batters box to lead off the bottom of the 7th. Big Boy Billy worked a full count walk and Staggy Bear delivered a single to put runners at first and second. Could it be? Could there be a little more magic left? No, no, can't be. Or maybe....Up to the plate went Sunshine who was still in the game from when he pinch ran for the DH in the fifth. What a time for your first career varsity at bat. Every single Liner fan knew exactly what was going to happen. Usain Sunshine then laid down a beautiful bunt to a drawn in third basemen who made a heck of a play, but not good enough to get our Sunshine. Just like that Pburg had the tying run at the plate with NOBODY OUT. Oh it was on. It was on like Donkey Kong. (I don't know exactly how Donkey Kong applies but my editor told me it was an appropriate time to use it). After a strike out, Machado came up to bat, took some vicious swings and worked a full count RBI walk. Tying run now at first. You could just feel it. Money Martin walked and the score was now 9-7 with one out. You could feel it. A Stanskid sac fly scored Sunshine and Pburg was down 9-8 but now there were two outs for Nice Guy Nick Helman. Channeling his hero Derek Jeter, Nice Guy Nick delivered the game tying run. Now it was all up to El Morro to send us home. With Martin at second base Morro hit a screamer to left center for the walkoff win and all of Pburg was celebrating BUT NO. NO. NO. NO. Despite clear evidence of the ball laying on the ground, the umpire ruled the ball was caught and on we went to the 8th inning (note, the other player and the umpire would later admit it was a badly blown call (not a joke)). After a brilliant outing by Baby Rick, Karrick Cranberry came on to pitch in the 8th. A leadoff double led put the Liners in danger but a ground out and two gassed up K's sent Pburg right back in to hit. Billy Billy was leading off and hit an infield single to put the winning run on base. Staggy Bear then bunted him to second. After a strikeout, Farmer Ray walked up to the plate. The Invisible Farmer hit a sharp groundball single to left and third base coach Donnie Baseball (yes, it was a heck of a time for his 3rd base coaching debut) waved Billy home for what would be a close play. Billy beat the throw and Pburg celebrated their second walkoff in as many innings. What a crazy win, contributions up and down the roster and just like that, the Easton curse was broken. On to Montgomery. Well, on to the PAC to face Montgomery.