By KIM NORTH
Times Leader Sports Writer
Just when it looked like Shadyside was going to shock the Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League, Neffs woke up.
SHADYSIDE’S JEFF?Campbell barrels towards home plate as Neffs’ catcher Josh Nagel awaits, left photo, and then applies the tag, right photo. Campbell was ejected on the play and Neffs rallied for a thrill-packed, 7-6, victory Wednesday night at the old ballyard in Neffs.
The A's Gang (8-4) tallied three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally past the Casket Makers (2-11) by a 7-6 count on a steamy Wednesday night at the old ballyard in Neffs.
Fred Owens' sacrifice fly to centerfield with one out plated Matt Masarick with the winning run and erased a 6-4 deficit the hosts encountered entering their final at-bat.
"We looked a little sluggish at the beginning," admitted Neffs' co-manager Dane Koch. "We have to come to play every game. We can't overlook anyone in this league.
"It was a good team win and we played small-ball when we needed too," he continued.
The A's Gang, which defeated Weirton 8-7 in 11 innings Monday night, combined a hit batter, two solid singles, a bunt single, a bases-loaded walk and Owens' sacrifice fly to touch home plate three times.
Josh Wells was plunked in the arm with a pitch leading off and Clark Kasprowski singled to right. Masarick's base knock to left chased home Wells and Brandon Leonard beat out a bunt to load the bases. Koch walked on a 3-2 pitch from hardluck loser B.A. Holloway to make it 6-6. One out later, Owens sent a towering fly ball to center on the first pitch and Masarick scored easily.
"It hurts," said Shadyside manager Mike Coyne, whose team survived playing a half-inning in the field with just eight players after a fifth-inning ejection. "I liked the way that we played scrappy against a good Neffs team, but we just couldn't get an out in the seventh when we needed to.
"Give Neffs credit. They played well when they needed to."
The Casket Makers trailed 3-0 and didn't have a base hit through four innings off former Martins Ferry High lefty Michael Roach. However, they broke through in the fifth with five runs on four hits and one costly Neffs error.
David Bonar drew a leadoff walk and Chris Heller bunted back to the mound, but Roach's throw to first was off target as the runners advanced to second and third. Jeff Campbell drove in both runners with a single to right. Holloway's single to left moved Campbell to second and Kraig Kubancik sent a drive to deep left that went to the fence.
Campbell chugged around third and headed towards home. The relay throw from Leonard to third baseman Steve Splenda to catcher Josh Nagel at the plate beat Campbell, who went in to Nagel high and hard, knocking the ball loose. Nagel was able to recover, but the home plate umpire had already ruled Campbell out, and even tossed him for the bringing his arms up.
That left Shadyside with just eight players, but it didn't quiet the rally. Ross Palicka followed the commotion with a walk that loaded the bases and Coyne sent a shot to deep center that cleared the bases for a double and put the visitors ahead, 5-3.
Koch relieved Roach and wiggled out of further damage.
The Casket Makers had to play with two outfielders in the bottom of the inning, but Neffs couldn't take advantage as it left the bases loaded.
"We could've broken the game wide-open there," Koch said, "but we didn't."
Bonar, the former Shadyside quarterback, doubled to left leading off the sixth and went to third on Heller's single to right. With Campbell's spot in the order due up, an automatic out was ruled, bringing Holloway to the plate. He lifted a fly ball to left that was deep enough to get Bonar home and give the Casket Makers a 6-3 advantage.
The A's Gang got one run closer in the bottom of the sixth. Nagel singled to left leading off and promptly stole second. Francis lined a one-out single to left that scored Nagel on a bang-bang play at the plate, cutting the deficit to 6-4.
Shadyside got out of further trouble when it turned a slick 1-3-5 double play to end the inning. Splenda bounced back to the mound to Holloway, who fired to Levi Crozier at first. Crozier, who arrived in time for the last two innings, then rifled a strike across the diamond to Kraig Kubancik at third, who applied the tag to a sliding Francis.
"It's a funny game," said Francis, Neffs' co-manager. "Two games in a row we've had to go the distance. I'm proud of my guys. We don't have any quit in us."
Neffs went ahead 3-0 with single runs in the first, third and fourth frames. Splenda singled in the first run, while two errors allowed the second to cross the plate. The third run came on Leonard's triple to the fence in left-center.
Koch picked up the win with three punchouts and a walk. He gave up two hits and a run, which was earned. Roach had five Ks and four base-on-balls.
Holloway struck out nine and walked four while yielding 10 hits. He threw 137 pitches, 82 of which were strikes.
Neffs travels to Wheeling Friday to meet the Cardinals. Shadyside hosts St. Clairsville Sunday.
Shadyside 000 051 0 - 6 6 4
Neffs 101 101 3 - 7 10 1
Batteries: Holloway and Palicka. Roach, Koch (5) and Nagel.
North can be reached at email@example.com