by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Blake Edwards hit a two-run, walk-off homer around 11 p.m. last Friday resulting in a frenzied pile-up of Northumberland players on the infield and ending an historical 13-inning varsity baseball game. The hosting Indians defeated the visiting Lancaster Red Devils, 3-1.
The fans who stuck around to see how the four-hour game played out were not disappointed. It was wild and wooly and unlike any high school baseball game most had ever seen. It included a balk call on a squeeze play that was reversed. It included six different pitchers, including two for Northumberland and four for Lancaster. And, of course, it culminated with Edwards’s long ball that sailed well over the 350-foot marker in left centerfield.
And the game was probably the longest varsity baseball game in Lancaster school history, definitely in the last 30 years.
“It was a tough game,” said LHS coach Welby Saunders. “But it was a great game. Zero-to-zero in seven innings is amazing but to go zero-to-zero through 12 innings is unheard of in high school.”
Thomas Bingham gave up only one hit, walked three and struck out 12 in eight innings of hard work on the mound for the Indians. Nicholas Basye came in for the win, going five innings with eight strikeouts, no walks and two hits allowed.
Edwards had only one hit in the game, going 1-for-6 but had the crucial two-run homer in the bottom of the 13th. Zach Swift went 2-for-5 with a single and double for Northumberland.
Lancaster worked three pitchers over 13 innings with Spencer Crittenden getting the start. He went three innings with two walks, one strikeout and one hit allowed and Matthew Kleinfelter put in a full game of work, giving up two hits, walking two and fanning 13 in seven and two-thirds innings. Danny Hinson pitched an inning for Lancaster and freshman Nick Wohleking closed.
“It was a tough situation for Nick,” said Saunders. “But he got us two quick outs, but [Edwards] put a good swing on the ball and that was it. It was exciting to see Nick handle the pressure the way he did.”
Kleinfelter led LHS at bat, going 2-for-6 with a single, double and Lancaster’s only RBI. Freshman Adam Wilmore, who caught 13 innings, was 1-for-5 with a walk and run scored and Brandon Rosalia was 1-for-3 with a sacrifice.
Lancaster’s first hit of the game came on a two-out single by Kleinfelter in the top of the fourth and the Devils left three runners stranded on base during the first seven innings.
Lancaster left runners on second and third in the eighth, one on in the 10th and the bases loaded after a busted squeeze play and reversal on a balk in the top of the 12th.
Crittenden reached base on an error in the 12th and pinch runner Tae Middleton advanced to second on an error. Lancaster had the bases loaded with two outs when Saunders called a squeeze play with Middleton attempting to steal home on the pitch. The play typically results in a balk on the pitcher and that was the immediate call as Middleton slid into home. However, a conference among the umpires, along with a question of the call by Northumberland coaches, resulted in the balk being reversed. The runners were sent back and Northumberland got out of the inning.
Hinson took the Indians three-up-three-down in the bottom of the frame and Lancaster rallied for the first run of the game in the top of the 13th after Wilmore hit a one-out single and Kleinfelter drove him in with a double.
All the Devils had to do was hold the Indians but the Indians had different plans. Jason Smith and Collin Saunders both drew a walk to start and Basye laid down a sacrifice bunt to move them to second and third. Smith scored for the Indians on a pass ball and Brian Harris reached base on a ground ball single.
The Devils came up with a second out when they caught Saunders in a rundown between third and home before Edwards took an 0-1 pitch deep for the win.
“For as tough a game as it was our guys played hard the whole time,” said Saunders. “We had two ninth graders who played unbelievably well and our pitching staff did a great job.”
Lancaster will be at home today, May 4, against Essex and will travel to Colonial Beach Tuesday, May 9. The Indians and Devils will meet again in the regular season finale on May 16 at Dream Fields in Kilmarnock.