LEWISBURG — When Josh Heath stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and Lewisburg trailing Midd-West by a couple of runs, the sophomore pitcher/infielder was looking to get a run, maybe two, home on a sacrifice fly or a single.
But he did a lot better than that, however.
Heath hit a bases-clearing, walk-off triple to deep center field to give Lewisburg a 5-4 Heartland Athletic Conference Division III victory Tuesday over Midd-West at Donald H. Eichhorn Middle School.
“It feels amazing, and it’s good to get another win,” said Heath. “(This win) can boost our confidence. Now we know we can win games (late). We just got to hit the ball.”
After Lewisburg (3-4 overall) put together a two-run fifth to take a 2-1 lead, Midd-West would tie the game in the sixth before going ahead 4-2 in the top of the seventh.
“I think (my guys) felt like they got punched in the mouth (in the seventh). They couldn’t understand what was going on,” said Lewisburg coach Brian Zysset. “Pitching-wise and defensively, we were in control of the game — we were just not hitting. I think the writing was on the wall — we’re not hitting and they are — and they felt like they got kicked in the chin.
“But they didn’t give up, and I’m proud of them for that.”
An infield single by Colt Kline started the seventh. Andrew Ramirez then was hit by a pitch and Aaron Strosser reached on a bunt base hit to load the bases.
And before Lewisburg’s players and fans knew it, the game was over as Heath drilled his 2-1 pitch way over the Midd-West center fielder’s head to win the game.
“I was just trying to do my job and hit the gap. I got a fastball right down the middle and I just did what I had to do with it,” said Heath. “I was just trying to hit a sac fly and get the run in, maybe get a couple of runs in and just do my job.”
Midd-West took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI double by Oakley Bennett.
Then in the fifth Lewisburg went in front 2-1.
Colt Kline led off the inning with a single to right before Andrew Ramirez reached on a single and Strosser got on with a bunt base hit to load the bases.
A sacrifice fly by Heath brought home the team’s first run, and then moments later Ramirez scored on a wild pitch.
“Strosser is a heck of a guy. He executed (the plays he needed to) many times in the game, and he set that (walk-off hit) up,” said Zysset.
In the top of the sixth the Mustangs tied the game on Chase Mattern’s RBI double to center that scored Bennett. And in the seventh, Midd-West went up 4-2 on back-to-back RBI doubles by Camden Richards and Marc Piccioni.
Heath gave up all four runs by Midd-West, but he pitched into the seventh before he was taken out for Colt Kline, who only lasted one
batter before he was taken out in favor of Jacob Brooks — who ultimately got the win for Lewisburg.
Heath struck out five and gave up eight hits, but more importantly he helped keep Lewisburg in the game.
“I’m happy for Josh. He pitched a heck of a game — he did what he had to do on the mound,” said Zysset. “Hat’s off to Midd-West. They came and played hard. They had some timely hits and some timely defensive plays, and (pitcher Chase Mattern) threw a heck of game.
“I’m happy for Josh to get that last chance at getting the walk-off hit,” added Lewisburg’s coach. “Towards the end of the game we had a change of attitude and we were a little more proactive about things. I think (Mattern) throwing the way he did really shook us, but I’m proud that we responded and never gave up.”
Lewisburg will look to keep the wins coming when the Green Dragons host Loyalsock at 4:30 p.m. today.
Lewisburg 5, Midd-West 4
Midd-West 001 001 2 — 4-8-1
Lewisburg 000 020 3 — 5-9-1
Chase Mattern, Cade Crossgrove (7) and Brayden Swineford. Josh Heath, Colt Kline (7), Jacob Brooks (7) and Peter Marrara.
WP: Brooks. LP: Crossgrove.
Midd-West hitters: Hunter Wolfley, single, run scored; Camden Richards, 2-for-4, double, RBI, 2 runs; Marc Piccioni, double, RBI; Oakley Bennett, 2-for-3, double, walk, RBI, run; Mattern, 2-for-3, double, RBI.
Lewisburg hitters: Andrew Ramirez, 2-for-3, 2 runs scored; Aaron Strosser, 3-for-4, run; Heath, triple, 4 RBI; Dakotah Snyder, walk; Marrara, single; Colt Kline, 2-for-3, 2 runs.
South Williamsport 6, Southern Columbia 0
Hughesville 7, Mount Carmel 3