WELLSBORO — After falling behind 0-3 to the North Penn-Mansfield Tigers (8-6-1) heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Wellsboro Hornets (7-5) received a three-run home run from junior Darryn Callahan and scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift them to a 5-3 victory on Monday, May 3.
“It’s always big,” Callahan said on sweeping the season series with Mansfield. “They are our rivals and every time you play Mansfield you want to beat them, no matter what sport it is. So this was huge for us.”
Wellsboro got off to a slow start but the defense was able to keep them within striking distance.
Senior pitcher Zach Rowland pitched extremely well on the mound against a surging Mansfield team that before their game in Wellsboro, had been slugging the ball very well.
“I think Zach (Rowland) got a little bit mad today, and I think he pitched angry,” Wellsboro Baseball Head Coach Steve Adams said. “I think in the beginning he was trying to pitch perfectly, and at the end, he pitched angry and we got a good result from that. I also think Kaedann Mann called a good game behind the plate, our defense was solid when it needed to be and it was just an overall team win.”
Rowland only allowed one earned run in the contest, but Mansfield was able to strike first on an error at the plate that sent senior Mansfield player Noah Spencer across home plate for their first run.
The Hornets settled in and didn’t allow another run until the fourth inning, and Rowland and their defense were able to dig and stifle the Tiger’s opportunities throughout.
In the second inning, they were able to use a double play from Conner Adams at shortstop to Isaac Keane at second base to stop a possible score from Mansfield. Rowland was able to strike out senior Rhyen Wilson to get out of the jam and not allow any runs in the inning.
Mansfield was able to score two more runs, one in the top of the fourth on a Logyn Choplosky single to right field and a Derek Litzelman single in the top of the fifth inning that pushed Spencer in for his second run scored of the day, and it seemed as though Mansfield might come out with a victory.
But in the top of the fifth, after only recording one hit on the night and three base-runners, the Wellsboro offense started to click.
A two-out Brock Hamblin single started the rally in the bottom of the frame, and after Adams reached base on a walk Callahan approached the plate with the tying run planted on second base.
“Callahan is just a pure hitter,” Adams said. “That lefty-swing is beautiful, and I saw that there was a chance that they might try to walk around him, we thought they might.”
Mansfield opted to pitch to Callahan who has batted 0.486 with 20 RBIs and four homers instead of walking one of the top sluggers in the Northern Tier League, and it proved to be their downfall.
After falling behind in the count 2-2, Callahan connected a strike to centerfield for a deep home run that tied the game and changed the complexity of the contest.
“The first time I got up to bat I popped up, and I was upset about that,” Callahan said. “So I was just trying to get a base, there was a man on second base so I was just thinking if I could get a base hit we can score and we can get it down to 3-1. I wasn’t expecting to put one over the fence to tie the game.”
Mansfield was able to get out of the jam with a pop-fly to second base and with the score tied would need to try and produce some offense in the final two innings.
In the top of the sixth, Mansfield had their opportunities with senior Coleman Jelliff reaching base on an error and pushing himself to the third base and into scoring position, but the Tigers were unable to capitalize as they left two men stranded on base in the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Hornets were able to put the game away with senior Kadean Mann and freshman Dylan Abernathy both reaching base and Caden Smith knocking in the deciding runs on a two-RBI single to give Wellsboro their first lead of the contest at 5-3.
In the final inning, Brock Hamblin was able to come in and finish the job on the mound for Rowland as he retired the final three batters to give the Hornets an important victory over Mansfield.
In the win, Wellsboro was led by a strong pitching outing from Rowland who went just over six innings allowing three runs (one earned), striking out five batters and only giving up three hits as he picked up his second win of the season on the mound.
On offense, the Hornets scored five runs on five hits with Callahan going 1-2 on the days with three RBIs, Cameron Brought going 1-3 with a single, Abernathy with one hit, Smith with one hit and the game-winning two RBIs and Brock Hamblin with one hit as well.
Scoring runs for Wellsboro were Callahan, Adams, Mann, Rowland and Hamblin.
The Mansfield team racked up just three hits in the effort with Spencer, Litzelman and Choplosky all recording hits while Litzleman and Choplosky added RBIs.
Pitching for the Tigers was senior Blaze Deitrick, who despite picking up a loss, pitched as well as humanly possible against a potent Wellsboro offense and went five innings while only allowing three runs (all earned) on three hits while striking out three batters.
Senior Jacob Evans came into the game in relief and went one inning while allowing two runs (both earned) on two hits and striking out one batter.
Now the Wellsboro team takes a two-game lead over Mansfield in the race for a Northern Tier League Large School Division Title, and with only six games left on the schedule, every game becomes crucial.
“Right now our focus is on the NTL,” Adams said. “If we can get that, that’s our goal and when you get into the playoffs all the games are going to be like this. It’s kind of like in basketball, one or two possessions make a difference and sometimes in baseball, one or two quality at-bats or pitches can make the difference. This is a huge win and to take the series against Mansfield this year is really big for us.”
Wellsboro is back in action on Wednesday, April 5 as they take on the Athens Wildcats on the road in another key divisional matchup.
“We just got to continue to hit the ball,” Callahan said. “We need to not make mistakes in the field and we have a pretty good shot of beating every team we play.”