Warrior Run outlasts Mount Carmel in 9 innings

May 1—TURBOTVILLE — Cohen Zechman didn't miss a beat when Warrior Run needed someone to close out the seventh inning on the mound Wednesday. The sophomore shortstop immediately volunteered, tearing the athletic tape from his wrists as he reached to take the ball.

Soon after, Defenders coach Derrick Zechman called for an intentional walk to load the bases for the heart of Mount Carmel's batting order.

Thanks a lot, Dad.

Cohen Zechman got out of the jam with consecutive strikeouts on gutsy 3-2 pitches. The Red Tornadoes then allowed the game-tying run on two-out error in the bottom of the seventh, and Warrior Run erased a two-run deficit with a two-out rally in the last of the ninth for an improbable 4-3 win in the Heartland Athletic Conference-Division III thriller.

"It's absolutely crazy, the game of baseball," said Derrick Zechman, whose team had lost two in a row and five of eight. "This was a big one for us in so many ways."

Mount Carmel scratched across a fourth-inning run off Defenders ace Landon Polcyn, and Red Tornadoes starter Clarke Cartwright carried the 1-0 lead into the final inning.

Polcyn, who was coming off an 18-strikeout, one-hitter against Bloomsburg, fanned seven Mount Carmel batters among his first nine outs Wednesday. He reached his 100-pitch limit after Jonas Bettleyon's two-out single in the sixth, but reliever Owen Reese finished the frame.

The Red Tornadoes worked Reese for consecutive walks to open the seven, prompting Derrick Zechman to make the move to his son. After Lukas Carpenter sacrificed to move the runners into scoring position, Derrick Zechman put Gavin Lasko on intentionally to load the bases with clean-up hitter Drew Yagodzinskie and five-hole batter Brayden Brinkash due.

"I'm fine with it," said Cohen Zechman. "I just knew I needed to come in and pound the zone. I don't get the opportunity to pitch much, but I knew I had nothing to lose. I had confidence in myself and a lot of confidence in my defense to make plays for me."

Cohen Zechman hadn't thrown since April 16, a 2 1/3-inning stint at Mount Carmel that was his only pitching appearance of the season. He fell behind Yagodzinskie 3-1, watched the Red Tornadoes' masher cream a fastball far and foul, and then dropped a perfect curveball across the outside corner for the second out.

"I guess I hit my spot," he said of the pitch that would have won the game for Mount Carmel had it been called a ball. Cohen Zechman again came back from 3-1 down to Brinkash, freezing him with a fastball on the inner half.

"Gutsy performance from him, to take the ball in a pressure situation. He stepped up in a huge way," said Derrick Zechman. "He wasn't happy when he came off (the field). He's like, 'Why'd (we walk Lasko), but he buckled down. He bailed me out; he made me look good on that one.

"They're an excellent team, and for us to get out it ... I can't even describe it other than I'm proud."

In the bottom of the seventh, Cohen Zechman ripped a one-out hit but was erased on a Gabe Engel fielder's choice. Polcyn then shot a single to right field that was bobbled, putting Defenders on the corners.

Cartwright got Aden Lewis to bounce back to the mound on his next pitch. Cartwright easily gloved the ball, but his throw to first base was off the mark and sailed into the diamond's vast foul territory.

"He threw fantastic," Mount Carmel coach Brenton Eades said of Cartwright. "(That error was) an anomaly. If he makes that play 1,000 times, 999 times he throws the ball to first. You see crazy things every day in baseball."

As the Red Tornadoes gave chase toward the right-field corner, Engel scored the tying run. Polcyn didn't immediately pick up Derrick Zechman's instruction to score and was caught midway down the third-base line as the throw came home. Polcyn scrambled back to an uncovered bag and was ultimately stranded.

"The game was over twice on the same play," said Derrick Zechman. "We were very, very fortunate."

Mount Carmel (10-4 overall, 7-3 HAC-III) stranded two runners in the eighth inning, running their total to 12 left on in the game. They also executed on just one of eight sacrifice bunt situations, according to Eades.

"You don't capitalize on opportunities (and) you lose at the end of the game, that's just the way it is," he said. "They beat us. They did more than we did."

Still, the Red Tornadoes forged a 3-1 lead in the ninth after Carpenter led off with a single and Yagodzinskie belted his second double. Brinkash lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Carpenter. On the late throw home, a try for Yagodzinskie at third was mishandled and another run scored.

In the bottom of the ninth, Carpenter pitched in relief of Cartwright and got two quick outs. Polcyn then lashed a single off the glove of diving Mount Carmel shortstop Jonny Morgante, and Jonas Bettleyon couldn't make a sliding catch of Aden Lewis' sinking liner to right. Polycn scored to make it 3-2 on a wild pitch as Tyler Ulrich worked a walk to turn over the Defenders' lineup. Griffen Harrington walked to load the bases, and James Keifer took a four-pitch pass to tie the score.

Eades made a move to freshman lefty Jace Stever, who fell behind Stone Allison 2-0 before following a strike with two balls to force in the game-winning run.

Warrior Run (8-7, 5-5) must now win two of its final five games to qualify for the district playoffs.

"We've been through a lot where we haven't been able to finish, been in a rut," said Derrick Zechman. "I'm hoping this gives us the jolt we need at the right time."



Mount Carmel;000;100;002 — 3-8-2

Warrior Run;000;000;103 — 4-8-2

Clarke Cartwright, Lukas Carpenter (8), Jace Stever (9) and Gavin Lasko. Landon Polcyn, Owen Reese (6), Cohen Zechman (7) and Aden Lewis.

WP: Zechman. LP: Carpenter.

Mount Carmel: Jonny Morgante 1-for-3; Carpenter 1-for-4, run; Drew Yagodzinskie 2-for-5, 2 doubles, 2 runs; Brayden Brinkash RBI; Noah Shimko 2-for-5, RBI; Jonas Bettleyon 1-for-4; Bennett Williams 1-for-4.

Warrior Run: Griffen Harrington 2-for-4; James Keifer RBI; Stone Allison RBI; Isaiah Betz 1-for-4; Zechman 2-for-4; Gabe Engel run; Polcyn 2-for-4, run; Lewis 1-for-3, run; Tyler Ulrich 1-for-3, run.