It was down to the nitty-gritty for Blaine Bower. His teammates had the bases loaded but there were two out and it was the seventh inning of a tie game. A hit, walk or error would win the game for the Cardinals. Lacking that meant extra innings.
With Brayden Lackey on third base via double by Elliot Searer and Joe DeBernardis at first courtesy of a walk and all three chaffing at the bit to get Lackey home, the speedy Bower got an 0-1 pitcn from Tigers pitcher Matt Wilson and drilled it to deep short. Steve McKee fielded the ball and fired to first but it was too late to catch Bower who easily beat the throw for a walkoff single.
Lackey waltzed home giving the Cardinals a 3-2 nod over the Cumberland Tigers Saturday afternoon at Rickenbach-Shirley Field. As a result the Cards took the West Shore Twilight League opening round series, four games to one and sent them into finals against Cumberland.
The Dodgers host the series opener Monday at Boiling Springs High School at 5:30 p.m.
Earlier the Cardinals took the lead in the second inning when DeBernardis tripled to deep left center and scored on a wild pitch. But the Tigers came right back to go in front on Miles Campbell's two-run homer that just cleared the right field fence in the top of the third.
Travis Miller, looking for his second win in the series, shut down the Tigers the rest of the way, retiring the side in order in the fourth and fifth frames and working out of a two-down, bases loaded situation in the sixth when he got Joe Gagliardi to ground right back to him for the third out.
The Cards got back to even in the fifth when Lackey singled and took second when a pickoff throw went wild. After Searer walked Jake Warner smacked a grounder to short that was mishandled and Lackey scored.
After Miller retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, the stage was set for the Cardinals to do their thing and earn a spot in the final playoffs.
It was a big day for Lackey who had been struggling lately. He was 2-for-2 with a walk and scored a pair of runs. Miller scattered six hits, issued two walks and fanned seven including two each in the first and second innings.