Seaford’s Big League all-star team down-right stole the first game of a double-header June 26, defeating Lower Sussex 9-7. But Sussex’s Big League finest made sure that they sealed the deal to win the second game 6-4. Lower Sussex leads the season series 3-2 over Seaford.
Lower Sussex jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead going into the top of the fifth inning, following a two-run homerun by first baseman Matt Lewis and four strong innings out of starting pitcher Scott Bollinger.
To that point, he had limited Seaford to only one run on four hits while striking out four batters, two of which were for a third out.
Seaford jumped on Bollinger in the fifth. They tagged him for four runs by the two lead-off batters getting on base and players behind them punching them in. Lower Sussex closed them out with a couple of fielder’s-choice plays and an inning-ending strikeout (his third inning ending strikeout) — but not before Seaford had their fill.
Seaford’s offensive resurgence stifled Lower Sussex in the bottom of the fifth and they posted three quick outs by Josh Gott, Josh Verlaque and Scott Bollinger, but Seaford still trailed 7-5 going down the stretch.
Lower Sussex Head Coach Eric Bollinger pulled starting pitcher Scott Bollinger (his son) in favor of left-fielder Josh Long.
“I think Scott got a little tired,” said Coach Bollinger. “He didn’t play spring ball to work and he’s still working everything out.
Long didn’t fair better and ended up picking up the loss in the final two innings. He struck out two but walked two and gave up three hits, which resulted in four more runs and the final score of 9-7.
Lower Sussex threatened in the top of the seventh when second baseman William Tingle banged a hard single up the middle with two strikes on him and on out on the board.
“William had a pretty good day at the plate for us and had some timely hits,” said Coach Bollinger.
Right-fielder Josh Gott followed suit with another tough at-bat and finally corking a base hit after fouling off five balls.
Their comeback would come to a bitter end after Seaford’s shortstop made a Willie Mays-like over-the-head catch for the second out. Bollinger ended the game on a fly-pop to the outfield.
“We let that game slip away,” said Coach Bollinger. “Our heads just weren’t in that game.”
Bollinger had enough joking and playing around from his players in the first game and gave the squad a much needed talking-to. Where they failed before, they overcame in the end, which ultimately is the goal.
Lower Sussex trailed Seaford going into the fourth when Scott Bollinger poked in a RBI single with two outs to score Gott.
Starting pitcher Billy Hunter worked a quick 1-2-3 fifth inning, which was punctuated by a swinging strikeout.
Hunter scattered seven hits over as many innings while only giving up four runs. Hunter fanned five Seaford would-be base runners from the fourth inning on. He blew past the opposing batters in the last two innings but Seaford was able to clock Hunter’s blazing fastball on two swings to tack on two more runs, pulling Seaford to 6-4 disadvantage.
Lower Sussex would not let the game slip away like the one before it. Lewis put the bat on the ball three out four times for a double, two singles and three RBI’s.
Center-fielder Matt Williamson went 2-3, hitting two singles and drawing a walk. While on base, Williamson easily stole three bases, though only one resulted in a run.
Reserve catcher Fletcher Garrison made two key throws to nab would-be scorers in the final innings on top of 1-2 hitting while stealing two bases and scoring one run to preserve the victory.
“Fletcher hadn’t played catcher in almost two years but he hung in there and played,” said Coach Bollinger. “He really did a great job for us back there.”
The Lower Sussex Big League All-Stars record now stands at 6-3 as they prepare for Laurel on July 1. The game time is 7 p.m.