BY DAVE BYRNE
Long-time Donegal baseball coach Al Brooks often opined that more baseball games were lost than won.
Whether the Mountville Angels (26-5) lost Monday night’s LNP Junior-Midget championship game No. 1, or E-town Navy won it will be left for debate years down the road.
What was uncontestable was Navy (18-6) forcing a winner-take-all showdown Tuesday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field with a four-run seventh inning.
The two teams, who combined for 23 runs at the Angels home field in an LCYBL crossover contest four weeks ago, rolled into the seventh inning tied at 1-1 as the Angels C. J. Saylor and Navy’s Hunter Murry locked up in a pitcher’s duel.
Saylor allowed a run on four hits through six.
Murry surrendered a run on four hits before yielding to reliever Larry Locker with a man on in the fifth inning.
Locker pitched out of trouble and earned the win when Navy exploded for four runs in the top of the seventh, highlighted by Nick Kreider’s three-run home run.
Kreider hit the second pitch he saw from reliever Josiah Snyder, well over the fence in right center.
“I saw that first-pitch curveball, it kind of froze me a bit,” Kreider said. “I took a guess, 50/50 chance, fastball, curveball. I guessed fastball. It was a little bit outside. I saw it the whole way.”
Turning point: With Devyn Clair on first and nobody out, Tre Sharpe hit a one-hopper to D.J. Esbenshade at third base. Esbenshade’s throw to second to force Clair hit Ryan Glenn in the foot as he moved to cover the bag.
Clair pulled into third and, in a continuation, catcher Cole Houser threw wildly to second attempting to get Sharpe. Clair steamed home. The twin errors opened the door. Kreider slammed it shut.
Stars of the game: Kreider and Locker, who pitched three perfect innings in releif for the win, striking out five.
Key statistic: Murry and Locker held the top of the Angel order, which was hitting .480 for the tournament, to one hit – Saylor’s double — in 12 at bats
Quotable: “(The bench) was ecstatic,” Kreider observed as the seventh inning unfolded. “We were excited for the opportunity … to win this game.”