North Division rivals Patton and Ebensburg have seen plenty of each other this season in Cambria American Legion baseball action.
The teams have faced each other four times thus far, with each squad winning twice, so it was no surprise to either manager that Tuesday night’s contest was tied at 4 when the lightning flashed, the skies opened up and the rainstorm moved in forcing the postponement of the rest of the game.
The game will resume at 5:30 p.m. tonight in Patton with two outs and a 1-2 count on Ebensburg’s Pete Schaffer.
“All of our games have been close this season except the opener when we beat them
10-0, but they have improved a thousand percent since that night,” Patton manager Ray Eckenrode said. “I have never seen so much improvement in a team. It’s a testament to their coaches and the players. Obviously, they are a good team and right now, I think they are very evenly matched with us.”
Patton was seeing Ebensburg right-hander Troy Templeton for the fourth time.
“We beat him on opening night, but his curve ball has really improved since then,” Eckenrode said. “He’s a quality pitcher. We have hit the baseball off of him, but we’ve been hitting the ball right at people, some hard-hit balls that were outs.”
In Tuesday’s game, Ebensburg was aggressive on the base paths to take a 2-0 lead after the first.
Jared Bowers beat out a bunt single then moved to second on a single by Ryan Caretti. Templeton hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Bowers and a single by Scott Lucas allowed Caretti to score.
In the second, the visitors took advantage of some miscues by the Red Men, who at one point during the season had played 35 straight errorless innings. A single by Schaffer and a throwing error allowed him to move to third. A suicide squeeze then plated Schaffer to give Ebensburg the 3-0 advantage.
“That’s the third suicide squeeze that we’ve been successful on in the last two games,” Ebensburg manager Bill Schenk said. “We also had a successful hit and run. That’s the way we work where we get guys on base and try to move them around. We like to get the defense moving and hope the ball finds the hole.”
In the bottom of the inning, Adam Polites reached base on an Ebensburg error, Nate Bearer walked and John Hornick was hit by a pitch. Evan Waldron hit a two-run single to left to score Polites and Bearer and pull Patton to within 3-2.
Ebensburg added another run in the fourth. With one out, Schaffer singled, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. A ground out allowed Schaffer to score.
In the fifth, Patton pulled even. Dom Milanesi led off with a single and a throwing error moved him to third. Milanesi scored on another wild pitch. Polites singled, stole second and went to third on a groundout. A bloop single to left by Hornick allowed Polites to score.
“It was fitting for us to break even with that bloop off the end of Hornick’s bat,” Eckenrode said. “He was getting a little frustrated because he’s been hitting the ball hard but right at people. It was good to see him break through.”
Patton is 12-2 while Ebensburg is 7-5.
“The stakes are high in the division and we don’t feel comfortable with the lead that we have over them right now,” Eckenrode said. “Our kids have to come out and battle (today).”