BY CARA SHUMAKER
It looked like First Commonwealth had gotten another win in Thursday’s early AAABA League game at Point Stadium, but that thought quickly crumbled as Ophthalmic Associates made a three-run comeback in the seventh inning and got the 6-5 victory.
First Commonwealth had a comfortable 5-2 lead going into the seventh inning, but Ophthalmic couldn’t wait to get back to the plate. It made three quick outs and Justin Donaldson led off.
Donaldson hit a powerful single and it was the momentum Ophthalmic needed to start a rally.
“Anytime someone leads off with a rope like that it definitely makes the dugout feel good,” Opthalmic General Manager Jason Kaminsky said. “The team came alive a little bit.”
Tyler Maryhugh and Kirk Davis both walked. Then Dylan Corl and Alex Beiler resurrected the bats with back-to-back singles and scored the tying runs.
First Commonwealth started to deflate.
Beiler reached first after Luke Trotz tried for a pop-up out, but the ball nipped the top of his glove. Trotz landed sprawled in front of the bag for a moment until he realized Beiler was coming. He quickly jumped up and again tried to make the out but Beiler was through the bag.
Davis had scored the tying run and Corl was in scoring position as Brent Barron came up to bat. Barron connected and in came the final run.
Ophthalmic rushed to the plate to celebrate the comeback victory as First Commonwealth’s heads hung low.
“I think in the last inning we went up with the approach that ‘We’re going to look for a good pitch and stay back,’ ” Kaminsky said. “They stayed back, they put the ball in play and looked for their pitch as opposed to doing too much free swinging.”
Going into the seventh inning Ophthalmic Associates had two runs on six hits. Most of the innings were three up, three down. Ophthalmic only had more than four batters in the second and seventh innings.
“Nate Nickel pitched a really good ball game,” Kaminsky said. “He took advantage of our aggressiveness at the plate. He gave us a lot of short innings.”
First Commonwealth challenged Ophthalmic’s pitchers, tallying 10 hits.
At times, First Commonwealth looked like a completely different team. In the second inning John Pudliner had a beautiful bunt that landed between second, third and the pitcher’s mound. The bunt loaded the bases and set First Commonwealth up to take the lead.
In the fourth, Zach Varga reached for a hit, connected, and the ball flew by Corl who tried to make a diving catch.
Trotz slugged it to the center-field fence and hustled his way to a triple, barely beating the ball with a head-first slide. The hit scored First Commonwealth’s fifth and final run in the sixth.
Elsewhere in the AAABA League:
Berkley Hills Renegades 7, Delweld 0: At Roxbury Park, Zach Detillio tossed a complete, scoreless game, only giving up three hits for the Berkley Hills Renegades on Thursday.
Dylin Brooks went 4-for-5, while Dan Gray and Brett Marabito both homered for the Renegades.
Ian Helsel doubled, got on base twice and stole one base for Delweld.
Laurel Auto Group 4, Martella’s 3: At Point Stadium, Chris Nolan went six innings and allowed four hits, three runs and walked two batters for Laurel Auto Group in the late game.
Gordan Barr and Jesse Bortner each had one RBI and Derrick Zavatsky had two. Barr also went 2-for-3 for Laurel Auto Group.
Sam Barbera went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base for Delweld.