Solanco's Tim Fetterman blamed himself when Mechanicsburg rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh to tie Solanco in a 5A District III baseball tournament first round game Monday, May 20.
It didn't take long for the Mules' right fielder to make amends.
Fetterman atoned for a throwing error with the game-winning RBI single in the home half of the inning to give seventh-seeded Solanco a 4-3 victory.
"I was the one who pretty much caused that three-run inning for them so I thought, go up there and make it right," said Fetterman. "I made it right."
Dawson Kreider started the frame by working a walk on a 3-2 pitch and Seth Harnish also drew a walk. That brought Fetterman to the plate with everyone in attendance wondering if Mules coach Tom Fish would call on his number three hitter to lay down a sacrifice bunt. A successful sac bunt would have put the potential winning run at third with one out. However, with first base open, Mechanicsburg could have elected to issue an intentional walk to cleanup batter Mike May, which is what they had done in May's previous at bat.
"Tim and Mike have been our two best hitters this year and I thought if I bunted Tim they could walk Mike and then it doesn't give our top two guys a chance to win the game," Fish said. "I took that shot."
Fetterman expected to receive the bunt sign. "That's the first thing I thought," he said. "I'm a small ball player so I thought maybe I was going to bunt it to get the runners moving. And then [Fish] said, 'No, you're going to smoke the first pitch.' I missed that then I just had to battle out there."
On an 0-2 pitch, Fetterman drilled a hit to left and Kreider scored without a play.
"I was trying to stroke something the opposite way, actually," said Fetterman. "He came in with a fastball and I hammered it."
It did not appear as though Solanco would need seventh inning heroics after adding a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to up its advantage to 3-0. Mules' starter Hayden Fox wriggled out of jams in both the fifth and sixth innings but was not as fortunate in the seventh.
Hunter Stout led off with a single to center and Thomas Murray walked. Taylor Shearer hit a bloop to shallow right which fell in front of Fetterman. Fetterman threw wildly to second while attempting to get a force. One run scored and Mechanicsburg had runners on second and third with nobody out. A sacrifice fly narrowed the gap to 3-2. Tyler Schwarzman sliced a single to left to put runners on the corners and Josh Jamiolkowski hit a sac fly to center to plate the tying run. Fox got the next batter to ground out to the third baseman Harnish to end the inning.
"Vintage Hayden for six innings to be sure," Fish said. "He also showed some maturity getting out of the seventh with the game still tied. That's the type of moment that can get away from an inexperienced pitcher. Hayden certainly has a lot of experience and kept his composure, kept it tied, and we were able to get a win for him."
Solanco took a 1-0 lead in the first. With two outs, Fetterman walked, stole second, and scored when May grounded a single up the middle.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Fetterman grounded a double down the left field line. May was walked intentionally. After the second out of the inning, Joel McGuire came through with an RBI single to right to make it 2-0. Hunter Shaw walked to load the bases and Sam Buckwalter walked to force home a run.
"This was a 100 percent characteristic Solanco baseball game until the top of the seventh," said Fish. "We hadn't thrown the ball around like that all season. Ball falls in and we make it worse. We always talk about not turning one bad thing into two. Made it worse and threw it away at second. But we left with the game tied and we had the batting order where we wanted it so I was still pretty confident we were going to have a fun end to the day. And then when Dawson had that quality at bat to start it off, 3-2 count and he works a walk, he gets to first and says, 'You know I wasn't going to get out, Coach.' And I said, "I know."
Fetterman also had confidence despite being momentarily affected by his error. "I tried to clear my head, get a good at bat, and try not to dwell on errors," Fetterman said. "But that just makes it even better."
Solanco advances to a quarterfinal matchup against a familiar foe – second-seeded Lampeter-Strasburg. The two teams split during the regular season with the Pioneers routing the Mules before Solanco put a damper on L-S's Senior Night festivities by nipping the Pioneers 2-1.
"It was a very emotional game," said Fish. "They're going to be as locked in as ever. L-S is on a roll. They won leagues without giving up a run. But, one advantage we have is we know they're a real good team but we're not intimidated by them. We know them. A lot of my guys have grown up with their guys, We'll show up."