It took some doing but the Cardinals are still champions.
After trailing twice they rallied back to even the score then force extra innings. That's all it took as Mike Palkovitz tripled in one run and Sam Crater drove in two more and the team went on to capture its seventh strraight West Shore Twilight League playoff crown, downing Dillsburg, 7-4, Friday evening at Dillsburg.
It also made a winner of Travis Miller who finished the season with a 14-0 record. He had an up and down game but when the chips were down, he was definitely up.
Since 2007 the Cardinals have won every West Shore playoff championship and four straight regular season titles. Dillsburg, perhaps the hottest of the other playoff teams, made sure it wasn't going to be easy for Bill Rickenbach's outfit despite a 12-0 drubbing the Cards administered Thursday.
Jon Mayer's two-run homer gave the home guys the lead in the first inning. The Cardinals came right back to tie it in the second on Matt Osenbach's triple, an rbi single by Hunter Schryver, the first of his four hits in the game, a walk to Teed Wertz and an rbi single by Palkovitz.
Dillsburg went back on top in the fifth. Anthony Salamone led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Brad Medellin. After Ty Follmer grounded out, Greg Wasikowski plated Salmone with a single to left and went to third on Mayer's single to center. Shane Dressler's grounder got by Palkovitz and skipped down the right field side allowing Wasikowski to make it a 4-2 game.
Again the Cardinals came right back to even the score in the sixth. Wertz walked, scooted around to third on Brayden Lackey's single to center that was booted allowing Lackey to ease into second. Wertz scored as Palkovitz grounded out to short with Lackey taking third and scoring on Jake Warner's sacrifice fly.
Things looks dim in the Dillsburg seventh. After Medellin fanned, Follmer singled and went to second when Wasikowski reached on an error. With Mayer, Dillsburg top hitter at the plate, Miller had to bear down and he did just that. He worked a 2-1 count to the catcher then got him fly out to Lackey in left. Next up was the cleanup hitter, Shane Dressler who lifted a fly ball to deep right field chasing Crater back to the fence to make the catch.
Now was the time for the Cards to really get their act together. They were working against Russ Woleslagle, the winner in Wednesday's 10-2 debacle, who was on the mound in relief of Kyle McClintock. He tossed a scoreless seventh and had one out in the eighth when the roof caved in.
As usual Lackey started it off with a single to right. He zipped around the bases when Palkovitz crushed a triple to deep left center where there is no fence. With two out, Jimmy Spanos was hit by a pitch and moved up on a wild pitch with Palkovitz holding third. Hitless in his first four at bats, Crater wasn't about to strand these guys. He worked the count to 2-2 then smacked a single through the middle driving home both runners.
That was more than enough for Miller in the last half of the eighth. He got Jeff Scaramuzzino to ground out to Spanos, who had moved to short for Wertz who had injured an ankle when he scored in the fifth. Dylan Tamecki skied out to Schryver in right and Brian Goodling whiffed to end the game.
The big crowd of Cardinals fans roared their approval and stayed around to celebrate with the players. They had witnessed an unusual trip through the playoffs as they swept Shippensburg and Fayetteville then waited for the winner of the Dillsburg-Cumberland series which went the full five games and included an extra day to complete a suspended game.
A number of players will have little free time since they will be heading back to college in a few days. However, this season is one they aren't likely to forget anytime soon.