Not a good time to steal second base

A local team lost a regional quarterfinal when a runner tried to steal second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The runner was thrown out, and the game ended. The story ran in the Daily News-Record on June 3, 2014.

ELKTON, Va. The East Rockingham High School baseball team trailed Madison County by two runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday. With runners on first and third and ERHS’s No. 3 hitter Travis Lugar at the plate, East Rock coach David Scott elected to have Shannon Cross steal second.

It was a bold decision.

It didn’t work out.

MCHS catcher Dylan Berry bounced the throw, but the tag got Cross to scuttle the Eagles’ would-be rally and end their season as Madison beat East Rockingham 5-3 in the 2A East regional baseball quarterfinals.

“That’s the way we play the game: We play aggressive,” Scott said. “Maybe, I should have waited deeper in the at-bat, but I was trying to take a force away on a groundball, make them throw across the diamond, and no — no second guesses. That’s the way we play: We play aggressive.”

Madison County (12-10) — the Conference 35 runner-up after entering the tournament as the seventh seed — advanced to play at Nandua after starter Colin Shifflett tossed a complete game and gave up two earned runs. The right-hander allowed six hits, struck out one and walked two.

MCHS coach David Londrey said he thought the Eagles might try to steal second in the seventh, although he doubted they would risk it.

“I’m surprised he went, but we had it on that, if he went, we were going to throw him out,” Londrey said. “The run at third didn’t mean anything. I really was surprised that he went, but we were ready for it. We had the play on. We actually had called a fastball outside just in case he did go, and so, as surprised as I was, we were ready and planning for it. They’re trying to make something happen, getting the run into scoring position; I understand that. We were ready, and everything worked out.”

East Rockingham (18-5) and Madison were tied twice before the Mountaineers took control in the top of the sixth inning, scoring two runs to go up 5-3 when Sam Taylor tripled to deep center field just over the head of a diving Bret Reel. The East Rock center fielder said it was about “six inches” from his glove.

“I got a pretty decent jump on it,” said Reel, a senior who went 1-for-2 with a single Monday. “I thought I was going to be able to track it down, but I just couldn’t get there in time.

“I saw it was going to be over my head and I went straight back on it, and then, it just kept carrying and carrying.”

Taylor, a senior first baseman, blasted a 1-0 outside fastball from Cross nearly to the fence to score Cole Smith from second base and put MCHS up for good, clinching a 240-mile-plus trip to Nandua on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay. Taylor, the Mountaineers’ cleanup hitter who finished 1-for-4, came to the plate after ERHS intentionally walked Berry, who clubbed a line-shot home run over the left-center field fence in his previous at-bat. It was his fifth homer of the season and gave Madison a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning.

“It’s kind of embarrassing for that to happen to you,” Taylor said of Berry being intentionally walked ahead of him. “So it felt good to get them back.”

East Rockingham took a 1-0 lead in the third on a double to left by Isaac Dean. It took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a sacrifice fly to right by John Dofflemyer and tied the game 3-3 in the fifth on an infield single by Riley Hensley.

The Eagles’ next best opportunity to score was with two outs in the top of the seventh when Jerrick Diehl got hit by a pitch and Cross reached on a fielder’s choice before getting thrown out.

“Great team, great bunch of guys to play with,” the junior second baseman/pitcher said. “Known all of them for a long time and just came up a little short, I guess.”

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