Laurel Auto Group pitcher Nick Lagnese had been here before. Ten times in fact.
The right-hander wasn’t about to leave the Sargent’s Stadium mound in Game 2 of a best-of-5 semifinal series against Martella’s Pharmacy on Saturday night.
“Me and Jake Swank went into this game, out of the last three years, this is our fourth year in it, we were 0-10 in the playoffs,” Lagnese said after pitching into the ninth inning of Laurel Auto's dramatic 4-3 victory. “We said, ‘Now’s the time we have to put one across. We have to put that one in that (win) column.’ I said I wasn’t coming out until they forced me out.”
Third-seeded Laurel Auto Group scored a walk-off run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to even the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League series at 1-all against second-seeded Martella's Pharmacy.
Game 3 will be the late game on Sunday night at the Point.
Laurel Auto took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Martella’s Pharmacy scored two in the third and tied the game in the top of the ninth.
LAG’s Chris Miller walked to open the final inning and stole second base. He moved up on a ground out. With two outs, he scored on a wild pitch.
“We knew that somehow this was going to be our game and we had to get it done,” Miller said. “It was a fastball, so I wasn’t expecting it to (get past the catcher). It ended up squeaking right between his legs and I was able to get there in time.”
One of Miller’s arms and a leg had fresh brush burns after his head-first slide across the plate.
“Hey, it’s worth it,” Miller said.
Lagnese gave his team a chance by throwing 120 pitches, 72 for strikes, and working into the ninth before Mason Akers relieved him.
Lagnese allowed seven hits and two earned runs while striking out two and walking a pair. Akers finished the ninth and earned the win.
“Adrenaline kept me going,” Lagnese said. “I started getting more and more with the pitch count and my arm started feeling it. Then the energy kept staying up and I just wanted to keep going with it.”
Laurel Auto manager Jim Skiles said Lagnese benefitted from a 1-hour, 2-minute weather stoppage in the fifth inning.
“Sometimes, pitchers will not go out after the rain delay,” Skiles said. “But he got a little rest, got his second wind and I think it actually helped him.”
Eight different players had hits for Laurel Auto. Dallas Hite had a triple. Miller and Swank each had a double.
Grant Norris had two hits, including a double and two RBIs for Martella’s Pharmacy. Brian Yetter had two hits and scored a run. Jake Ansell and Zach Mancz each hit doubles.
“I thought we hit the ball hard and I thought we hit the ball right at people,” Martella’s Pharmacy manager Kerry Pfeil said. “(Lagnese) used that momentum to just keep barreling through. One thing I didn’t like about us is we popped out 11 times with guys on base. That’s what really hurt us.
"Great, gutsy effort on Lagnese’s part.”
“It’s aways about pitching,” he said. “Nick Lagnese just did a number on them and kept us in the game. As long as we can do that with good teams and good hitters, they always say good pitching stops good hitting, and tonight that was the case.”
Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors 6, O 4
In the late game at Sargent’s Stadium, regular-season champion Paul Carpenter took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series with a victory over fourth-seeded O.
Josh Spiegel went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs for Paul Carpenter. Spiegel had a two-run inside-the-park home run and a double among his hits.
Jordan Sabol had an inside-the-park solo homer. Justin Wright had two hits, with a double. Mario Disso and Austin Homer each had two hits and one run scored. Matt Wicker had a double.
Paul Carpenter right-handed starter Devin Renzi pitched five innings. Shane Stuchell tossed four scoreless innings of relief, striking out five batters.
O righty Lance Westover pitched a complete game, scattering 11 hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Westover threw 137 pitches, 87 for strikes.
The O’s Chasen Claus went 3-for-4 with two doubles, one run and one run batted in. Jayke Saiani had a hit and drove in two runs.
The O led 2-0 after one inning and forged a 4-all tie after Paul Carpenter had taken a two-run lead in the top of the third.
Paul Carpenter added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, one unearned, and held off O the rest of the way.
Game 3 will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Sargent’s Stadium.