Game Summaries & Headlines.
Wednesday night at The Ballpark @ The Forge the Eagles welcomed the Massaponax Panthers in for a Commonwealth District match-up. The Eagles had their chests out a little bit after running over Brooke Point at home in their last outing 15-4 last Friday night. The GREEN was in search of their third district win of the year, and they were trying to go over the .500 mark for the first time in 2019.
The Panthers came in licking their wounds a bit as they were winless in the district, losing to Riverbend and North Stafford on the early campaign. The home team didn’t waste much time in this one putting up a 3-spot on the Eagles brand new scoreboard in the home half of the first.
Senior Jake Wortman led off with a singled to left and stole second with Robert Moffett at the dish, and the next pitch Panther starter Mike Shanahan walked Moffett to put two on with nobody out. Aiden Tierney singled to score Wortman with the Eagles first run and when Jordan Tauriac walked the Forge had the bases loaded and there was still nobody out.
Nate Zimmerman reached on an error, scoring Moffett to make it 2-0 “good guys” and the Panthers were still in search of their first out of the game. A.J. Zeak reached on a fielders choice, but Tierney was cut down at the plate for that pesky first out. First baseman Keegan Doyle flew out to right, but it was deep enough for Tauriac to come across with another run and the Eagles led 3-0 after an inning.
In the top of the 2nd, Panther catcher Johnny Lagana rang a double to left to give Massaponax a runner in scoring position, and after Nik Branch was thrown out by Seth Tootle at first for the first out, the Panthers had a runner just 90 feet away. Zeak told the Panthers Tanner Huffman to “grab some pine meat”, as he got caught with the bat on the shoulder for the innings second out. Zeak got out of the jam with another strikeout and the Panthers were denied on the board.
It was the next at bat for the visitors that raised some eyebrows in the ballpark as they scored 4 times in the frame, and took a 4-3 lead. A Panther single and a couple of walks put the Panthers in business, and when Shanahan came up to help himself, he rang a double to left and just like that it was 3-2 Eagles with only 1 out. Lagana hit a sacrifice fly to center to score another one, and this one was tied 3-3. Branch put the visitors on top 4-3 when he hit a “tweener” fly ball between shortstop and left field that fell to earth to put the Forge behind.
The Eagle offense was silent through 3 innings, and the Panthers sent the message that they weren’t done when they came up in the top of the 4th. Matt Rosenbaum led off the inning and was loud and clear with his at bat, tom-a-hawking the ball on a 1-0 count deep over the left field fence. The drive christened that new scoreboard with its first dent to make it 5-3 Panthers, and the ballpark suddenly had the atmosphere of a restaurant just before closing time. Two batters later Shanahan came up again and doubled in the right centerfield gap scoring another Panther run to make it 6-3 and the Eagles were searching for a spark.
The Eagles showed some signs of life in the 4th, getting two back to cut the deficit to 6-5. Josh Daas held the Panthers in check in the top of the 5th, but in the home half of the inning the Eagles attacked like their dinners were on the table at home, and they just had to find a way to end it.
End it they did…..Tierney started it with a single to left, and Tauriac brought him in to tie the contest at 6-6. Doyle doubled in two to put the Eagles ahead for good at 8-6 and it was going from bad to worse in a hurry for the Panthers. Walks, wild pitches, and errors gave the Forge a 15-6 advantage and there was still only one out. The mindsets of their fans were thinking, that this was fun, but just a few more runs would end it mercifully. Those dinners escaped icrowaves when Finn Swafford stepped to the plate and sent a 1-2 pitch deep into the Stafford sky to start EVERYBODY’S vehicles and give the Eagles a 17-6 win.
The Forge had their third district win of the season as they strung together 10 hits and benefited from 5 Massaponax errors during the game. The Eagles were flat early but caught fire as the game progressed. They’ll now travel to Stafford on Friday night to take on the Indians in a battle of Commonwealth District unbeaten. Stafford won the ho-hum pre-season tournament and bested the Eagles in the semi-final round of that tournament by a score of 2-1.
The Forge has scored 40 runs in their last three games but it’s been proven that the Indians pitching is tougher than a 2-dollar steak….so something will have to give in this one. Both teams 3-0 in the district, and the winner takes over sole possession of 1st place…...all of a sudden this season is starting to take shape, and a late start by the Forge on Friday night will put them in bad shape on the road.