In a game that had a little bit of everything — including a cameo appearance by Mother Nature — the Union Springs baseball team outlasted Dryden, 11-9 in eight innings, on Tuesday to advance to the Section 4 Class B championship game.
The Wolves (16-6) scored twice in the top of the eighth after the Purple Lions (12-7) tied the game with an improbable five-run seventh inning. Garrett Cunningham got the win in relief, while Justin Geddes took the loss for Dryden.
“You don’t see a game like that very often,” Dryden coach Kim Brown said. “You maybe see one like that once a season, maybe once every few years. It was a difficult spot for us to be in (down by 5 in last inning), but the nice thing was, we took what we were given. … We did what we could, but unfortunately came up a little bit short.”
Catcher Skyler Jennings and third baseman Rich Hurd both collected two hits, including a home run, and drove in two runs for the winners, who play Susquehanna Valley in Friday’s championship game at Binghamton University.
“Talk about two teams that didn’t want their season to end today, you know?” Union Springs coach Dan Zdanowski said. “It’s a shame that one of us had to knock the other one out.”
Jennings staked the Wolves to an early lead as he belted a solo homer to right field in the first inning, but the Purple Lions answered with two runs in the home half of the frame on a two-run single by third baseman Bruno Bugliosi (3-for-4, 3 RBIs). Union Springs erupted for three runs in the third inning, the rally starting with two outs by starting pitcher Nick Slobodiak, second baseman Chandler Coleman, Jennings and Hurd.
Dryden answered with a run in the home half of the third as Japanese exchange student Masa Kiba led off by getting hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a Bugliosi single.
The Wolves scored five runs over the next three innings to extend their lead to 9-4, with a thunderstorm holding the game up for approximately 45 minutes with two outs in the top of the sixth. Shortly after the game resumed, an errant pickoff throw to third from Dryden catcher Brian Colbert brought home the Wolves’ ninth run.
Down by five entering their final at-bat, the Purple Lions got a good start when Kiba led off by reaching on an error. Derek Wilson followed with a single but was forced out at second when Colbert hit a ground ball to shortstop. The throw to first to complete the double play was wild, allowing Kiba to score to make it 9-5.
After Bugliosi and senior centerfield Alan Davis both walked, Geddes struck out against reliever Matt Goodsell before third baseman Joel Porter delivered a bases-clearing double to the gap in right field, cutting the Wolves’ lead to one, and he scored on a base hit from starting pitcher John Whitmore.
“Matt came in and did exactly what we wanted him to do, throw strikes, and Dryden hit him up pretty good, so kudos to them,” Zdanowski said.
But the Wolves would have the last laugh, scoring twice in the top of the eighth on one hit and one costly Dryden error. Zach Siracusa led off with a walk and came all the way around to score when the next batter, Will Vreeland, reached on an attempted sacrifice bunt and the throw from third base sailed up the right field line. Vreeland then scored two batters later on a Coleman single.