CSAT takes lead in seventh, but N-T walks off a winner
By David Yarger
On a cool night at the historic Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls, the North Tonawanda Lumberjacks and CSAT Golden Eagles played under the lights on Tuesday.
The lead changed twice in the seventh inning, but it resulted in a 4-3 win for the Lumberjacks over CSAT.
N-T set the tone early, scoring 2 runs in the first inning off a Colin Hebeler walk and a Ben Kolbe base hit.
CSAT had no answers for the next six innings, as starter Antonio Labarbera threw five shutout innings, striking out seven Golden Eagles.
NT coach Neil Turvey said it was a typical Labarbera outing.
"We're used to seeing that from him," Turvey said. "Every time out he's extremely reliable. He's sharp every time we hand him the ball, and we're confident that we're able to win that game every time."
The Jacks offense didn't have any answers for CSAT starter JP Henry, as he settled down and threw five innings, striking out seven batters.
In the sixth inning, the game got interesting. Both teams had chances to score and could not execute.
For CSAT, Mark Smith singled and then the next batter lined into a double play, ending any possible threat.
For the Jacks, Kolbe led off the inning with a single, but was called out running to second on the next batter. It was a questionable interference call that Turvey asked both umpires to talk about. After the umpires discussed it, they deemed the call correct.
The next batter, Zach Archibald, came up and laced a ball into the left center field gap that looked to be a sure double and possibly score the runner from first. Center fielder Alex Burgos made an outstanding catch on a dead sprint to steal a hit from Archibald.
Heading into the seventh, the Jacks still led, 2-0. CSAT was facing their last three outs.
Leadoff man Zack Kiblin walked to start the inning. After a strikeout, Jose Jimenez singled to get Kiblin to second. Henry came up next and hit a ground ball to second that went off the fielder's glove and into center field, allowing Kiblin to score. Jimenez was thrown out at third trying to advance.
With the score now 2-1, Henry was on second. He stole third base and the throw from the catcher was errant, allowing him to score and tie the game at 2.
The batter at the plate was Leo Perdomo, who hit a single and advanced to second on an error by the right fielder. He advanced to third on a passed ball the next pitch.
With two outs and the lead run at third, Smith laced an RBI single to left, for his third hit of the game, giving the Golden Eagles their first lead, at 3-2.
Now trailing, N-T had their backs against the wall. It only took four batters for the comeback to be completed, though. The first two batters singled, putting men on first and second with no outs. Labarbera squared to bunt and bunted back to the pitcher, who attempted to get the force at third base. The throw was dropped at third, and the bases were now loaded.
Hebeler came up to the plate, with already one RBI on the night, and hit a bloop single into left that scored Max Jeswald easily from third. Turvey waved Dan Smolka around third to score the winning run, and he did with ease. The Lumberjacks walked off winners by a score of 4-3.
Turvey said it wasn't pretty, but to get a win at a historic setting like Sal Maglie Stadium was a lot of fun.
"This is a special setting; this is something we get to do one time," Turvey said. "To play in this stadium, under the lights, it's cool for it to end that way. Ugly or not, a win's a win. Walk-off ones are fun."
For Hebeler, he finished 1-2 at the plate with two walks and three RBIs. Turvey said he was pleased about his designated hitter's performance.
"Normally, he's playing third. So, it's tougher when you're not in every inning and playing defense with it," Turvey said. "It was in a good spot today. After throwing yesterday, we wanted to give his arm a bit of a rest and keep his bat in the lineup and it paid off for us."
With the win, the Lumberjacks moved to 5-6 in league play, putting them in the middle of the Niagara Frontier League at fifth place with three more league games this week.
Turvey noted how the team could finish better than it has the past couple years with a few more wins.
"We have an opportunity to finish above .500," Turvey said. "It would be great; it's something that the last few years we've struggled."
The Jacks next game is at home vs. Lewiston-Porter at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
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