ROSSITER — Taking advantage of four Rossiter errors that led to four unearned runs and holding on for dear life at the end, the Brookville Grays notched a must-win 7-6 victory in Game 3 of the Federation League finals at Shaffer Field Thursday night.
Rossiter leads the best-of-seven series 2-1, so the Grays are still behind the eight-ball going into Saturday’s game at Brookville’s McKinley Field starting at 5 p.m. The series goes back to Rossiter Sunday for a 2 p.m. start. Games 6 and 7 would be Tuesday and Wednesday at Brookville and Rossiter respectively.
“If we could do something on Saturday, we’ll be better,” said Grays manager Bob McCullough.
But Thursday’s win had to come first and the host Miners were in a giving mood, especially in the Grays’ two-run fourth inning that broke a 3-3 tie and gave them the lead for good.
With one out and runners on first and second after a Dan Buzzard single, Matt Bowser laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Miners pitcher Isaac Stouffer fumbled what looked to be an easy play to first and loaded the bases.
Then Tanner Klein lifted what appeared to be a routine sacrifice fly to center field, but Ty Zimmerman missed the ball and it allowed Kane McCall and Buzzard to race home for the 5-3 lead.
Two insurance runs proved to be invaluable in the fifth and seventh innings. With two out and Thomas Plummer on second after a throwing error allowed him to reach second on a forceout grounder, Sam Leadbetter blooped a double to center to score Plummer.
In the seventh, Nate Bonfardine walked with one out, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Nick Bishop’s single to right.
The extra runs proved to be huge. Klein, who relieved Plummer in the sixth and retired the side, appeared to be cruising to an easy finish. But after one out in the seventh, Jordan Mesoraco singled, Zimmerman reached on an infield single to set up Mark Saxman’s two-run triple to right-center field.
Klein recovered to strike out Dakota Byers looking, leading to Byers getting ejected after throwing his bat and helmet in protest on a 3-2 pitch. Dylan Conrad walked and Pete Meterko singled in Saxman and moved pinch-runner and potential tying run Josh Stahlman to third.
But Klein sealed the game by getting Ruben Taylor, who had crushed a line drive basically right into Klein’s glove on the mound for the second out of the sixth, to pop up to Buzzard in shallow left field to end the game.
Plummer, a Clarion High School graduate and currently on the Penn State-DuBois roster, got the win, going five innings and giving up four hits while walking four. He wasn’t hit hard as Conrad singled in two runs with two outs and Meterko added a run-scoring single in the third to tie it up at 3-3.
“(Plummer) is coming along. I’ve seen improvement,” McCullough said. “He’s learned to throw a curveball, which he didn’t have before. I really think his velocity is picking up and he’s getting better.”
The Grays scored an unearned run in the first. Buzzard led off with a single, moved to second on Bowser’s bunt and appeared to be thrown out advancing to third on Klein’s groundout, but Byers dropped the ball when tagging a sliding Buzzard. Then Buzzard scored when Byers misplayed Fiscus’ grounder.
In the third, McCall chopped a ball that deflected off Byers’ backhanded effort down the third-base line for a double. After a one-out walk to Bowser, Klein drove a double off the glove off leftfielder Ruben Taylor, allowing McCall to score. Fiscus made it 3-0 with a single through the left side to plate Bowser.
Stouffer went five innings and took the loss before Tyler Richardson finished things out the final two innings for the Miners.
Buzzard, Bishop and Leadbetter each had three hits for the Grays. Conrad and Meterko each singled twice for the Miners.