YORK, PA - Trailing 3-0 early, Hopkins used a five run fifth, punctuated by a two-run homer off the bat of Colin McCarthy, and timely fielding and pitching late to win a thriller against Misericordia Friday night, 7-5.
Things looked bleak early for the Jays, as Dan Albert pulled up limping after beating out an infield single in the top-half of the second, forcing the Jays to substitute Joe Conlon in for the injured Albert and reshuffle the defense. When the bottom-half of the inning started, Craig Hoelzer found himself in left field, Conlon was at second and McCarthy took the post at first.
The first batter of the inning tested Hoelzer, hitting what seemed to be a routine fly ball to left. But Hoelzer couldn't hang on for the catch, and the Cougars' leadoff man was aboard. After Nick Hair singled, Miles Westrich laid down a sac-bunt, advancing the runners to second and third, respectively.
Starter Nick Burns would throw a pitch a little too inside, and wound up hitting Chris Boroch. Next up was Jeremy DeCotiis, who laced a bases clearing triple into the gap in right center, giving Misericordia a quick 3-0 lead.
After the team's traded three-up, three-down half-innings in the third, McCarthy led things off with a single in the fourth, but was ultimately stranded after Hoelzer, Conlon and Mike Smith all flew out to end the inning.
Burns sat three more batters down in order in the bottom-half of the fourth, and the Jays trailed, 3-0, entering the 5th.
Chris Casey followed in McCarthy's footsteps, singling to start the inning. Ryan Orgielewicz would walk next, before Thomas Mee laid down a sac-bunt, pushing Orgielewicz and Casey to second and third.
With two on and one out, Conor Reynolds hit a shot to the shortstop. Boroch fielded the ball cleanly and threw to third, hoping to get Orgielewicz out on the play. But as the tag was being applied to Orgielewicz's leg, the impact of the runner's leg on the glove forced the ball to squirt out and roll into foul territory, away from the field of play. Alertly, Orgielewicz got up and sprinted home, while Reynolds smartly advanced to second.
Brian Lin wasted no time tying the game up with a single up the middle, scoring Reynolds scored from second. With Lin standing on second, McCarthy came up and turned on a pitch, blasting it high into the York sky and on top of the 38 foot wall in left field, giving the Jays a 5-3 lead.
After putting up a zero in the fifth, Burns started the sixth out strong, striking out the first two batters he faced, before allowing consecutive singles. With runners on the corners, Al Reda bounced a high chopper over Burns' head. Charging from his shortstop post, Reynolds fielded the ball cleanly and fired a dart to first, beating the runner and ending the scoring threat.
A three-up, three-down top-half of the seventh quickly brought the Cougars back up to the plate. Boroch led things off with a single, before DeCotiis sac-bunted him to second. The next batter was Kyle Lindsay, who hit a laser off his bat. Fortunately for the Jays, Reynolds timed his jump perfectly at short, plucking the ball out of mid-air before going to step on second to double-up Boroch, who assumed the ball was over Reynolds' head and was on his way to third.
Hoelzer put an end to the string of three-up, three-down innings, singling to short before advancing to second on a wild throw to first. Conlon bunted him to third, before Smith hammered a single off the wall in left, scoring Hoelzer and giving Hopkins a 6-3 lead.
Things started to get dicey for the Jays in the bottom-half of the eighth, as Burns gave up a leadoff double followed by an RBI single, which cut the lead to 6-4. Burns would exit after that, as coach Bob Babb would bring in senior righty Thomas Harper.
Harper would make his presence felt immediately, striking out the first batter he faced for the first out of the inning. Like Burns did earlier, Harper tried to get too much of the inside part of the plate and wound up hitting the next batter he faced. With runners on first and second and one out, Harper went to work against pinch-hitter Pete McDonnell, getting him to look at a called strike three. The final out would come via a fielder's choice, as Reynolds fielded the ball cleanly off Connor Rittenhouse's bat and flipped to Conlon at second.
Reynolds started the ninth with a walk for the Jays and Lin pushed him to second with a sac-bunt. A failed pickoff attempt of Reynolds saw him take third, before coming home on a wild pitch, pushing the Jays' lead back to three, 7-4. Though McCarthy and Hoelzer found themselves on second and third, Conlon and Smith were unable to bring them across the plate as the inning ended.
Harper started the ninth by getting Boroch to pop out to Reynolds at short for the first out of the inning. But after consecutive walks, coach Babb turned the ball over to Justin Drechsel.
With two on and one out Drechsel took the hill and delivered a wild pitch on his first throw, pushing both runners into scoring position with the tying run at the plate. After throwing two more balls, Drechsel battled back to get the count full before throwing another wild pitch on ball four, allowing DeCotiis to score. Drechsel then hit D.J. Navoczynski, loading the bases and putting the winning run on base.
Following that sequence, Babb went back to his bullpen to bring in junior Ross Lazicky. With the bases loaded and one out, Lazicky beared down and induced a double play ball up the middle to Conlon, who flipped to Reynolds, who fired over to McCarthy at first to barely beat Cuccio and end the game.
The Jays knocked out 11 hits, their ninth straight game with double-digit hits. McCarthy and Casey led the way with three each.
Meanwhile, the freshman Burns put together a solid outing in his first-ever postseason start, striking out six in seven innings, while giving up just one earned run and one walk.
The Jays are back in action tomorrow as they will face Alvernia at 11 am at Santander Stadium.