The baseball disappeared into the late-night sky, then dropped from the darkness toward the glove of Charlestown left fielder Devon Krueger. The routine fly ball, in a deadlocked game, looked to be a dead out.
Except nothing in baseball is routine. With two outs in the top of the seventh, the ball plopped off the glove onto wet grass, and two Red Devils dashed across the plate before it could be retrieved. Those were the winning runs as Jeffersonville clipped Class 3-A No.10 Charlestown 8-6 in a three-hour marathon on Friday night.
That stunning moment of misfortune allowed the Red Devils (3-2) to escape after they wasted a 6-2 lead. It ruined a Charlestown comeback in a series that has been dormant for most of the years since the beginning of class sports in 1997.
“It’s not what we wanted,” Charlestown coach Ricky Romans said. “It happens. It’s a mistake at the most inopportune time.”
The final Jeffersonville rally began with innocence, and with two outs. Jeremiah Phelps popped a double and Drew Campbell walked. Nolan Fertig, one of the dangerous Jeff hitters, lofted the simple-looking fly ball that was proved to be anything but harmless.
“We did take advantage of the mistake,” Jeffersonville coach Derek Ellis said. “We played bad enough to lose and OK enough to win.”
Charlestown took an early 2-0 lead in the first, and Krueger had the big blow, a two-run double to deep center. But Jeffersonville answered with three runs in the third and fourth innings.
In the third, Charlestown starter Kelly Rider threw a wild pick-off throw to first that set wheels in motion. Casey Wiles smacked a two-run double to right-center and Casey Gibson chased him home with a double to left.
In the fourth, another Charlestown outfield error allowed a run to score, and Joe Burke drilled a run-scoring double to left-center for the 6-2 lead.
“Mistakes through the game cost us,” Romans said. “We allowed them to get the momentum and made some bad decisions that cost us. We showed a lot of moxie coming back.”
The Pirates (5-2) scored four in the fourth, with three coming off Drew Reich’s bases-loaded double that forced a 6-6 stalemate. It also put the outcomes in the hands of the relievers, and Jeff had an untouchable one.
Phelps, a side-arm slinger, entered with two runners aboard in the fifth. Charlestown never got a ball out of the infield against him.
“That look is unique at this level,” Romans said. “We don’t have a side-arm pitching machine. It was different and he pretty much closed the door on us.”
“He’s tough to hit,” Ellis said. “I knew those guys haven’t seen him before. When he throws strikes and his ball is moving, he’s pretty daggone good. That was a bright spot.”
Jeffersonville beat Charlestown for the 50th time in series history. It was only the fourth meeting between the former sectional rivals since 1997.
Justin Sokeland can be followed on Twitter at @golfguru55.
Jeffersonville 003 300 2 – 8 8 1
Charlestown 200 400 0 – 6 8 3
WP – Jeremiah Phelps. LP – Dalton Brown. 2B – Devon Krueger, Tanner Wesp (Ch); Casey Wiles, Casey Gibson, Joe Burke, Jeremiah Phelps (J); Records – Jeffersonville 3-2, Charlestown 5-2