Chris Persing would have been happy with the game just being tied. On a day where his Muncy baseball team was chipping away at a deficit for much of the game, just getting the score tied in the fourth inning Wednesday would have been good enough.
Muncy's offense wasn't done, though, with just a pair of two-out runs to tie the game. The Indians were patient with Millville pitcher Jared Solomon the second and third times through the order against him. And in that fourth inning, not only did Muncy erase a two-run deficit, it built a little bit of a lead of its own.
Muncy scored 12 two-out runs in the fourth inning of its season opener yesterday to turn a competitive game into a 14-4 run-away on a blustery day better suited for football Friday night than opening day of baseball season.
"Typical opening day," Persing said with a smile.
It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't really even close to being pretty, but how Muncy won yesterday wasn't nearly as important as just leaving with a win. Persing saw encouraging signs late in the game, such as his offense working counts - Solomon threw 57 pitchers over his final 1 2/3 innings - to get in better hitting situations. He saw starting pitcher Dawson Fox work through early command problems to face just one over the minimum over the final three innings.
Oh, and there was that 12-run inning, too.
"Anytime you win a baseball game, it's a good day," Persing said. "They're not always pretty. When you leave the field and you win and you know you did what you could, we'll take that."
Muncy recorded seven hits in the 12-run fourth inning, but was also aided by four Millville errors. Anthony Barberio and Jeff Scott, the Indians' eight and nine-hole hitters, got the inning started with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with two outs.
After a strikeout, T.J. Moyle roped a double to center field over the outstretched glove of Millville's Mitchell Steiner. It was the biggest hit of the day for Muncy. It went from playing in catch-up mode, chipping away at the four-run lead the Quakers had built, to playing with a renewed energy that seemed to ease any early-season butterflies.
"Once we got it tied, I knew we were going to get a lead," Barberio said. "I didn't know it would be that big of a lead though."
"When you're trying to crawl back in the game and you don't feel like you've played your best and you can get a big hit like that to tie the game, you can see the mindset in the dugout changes," Persing said. "We started to get a little louder in the dugout and the mindset changed and we weren't pressing so much."
After Moyle's game-tying double, Solomon went to at least three balls on three of the next four hitters, and the next five hitters reached base. He hit Fox with a 2-1 pitch and walked Skylar Ebner on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases before hitting Kenny Koch with a first-pitch offering to force in the go-ahead run. Solomon walked Erik Springer on five pitcher to force in another run before an errant throw from Millville allowed two more runs to score.
Just five of the 10 runs Solomon allowed were earned and he allowed just five hits in his 3 2/3 innings.
"He threw well. Getting through the lineup one time was big for us," Persing said. "We started to work the counts a little more and started swinging in our counts more than we were early on."
"He kept us off-balance a little bit for the first two innings and then we started to get a little bit of a rhythm," Barberio said. "I think we had him rattled and then it was good from there."
Barberio and Scott each singled off new Millville pitcher Greg Lyons to keep the rally going, with Barberio's driving in a run. The eight and nine-hole hitters in Muncy's lineup went a combined 4 for 4 with an RBI and four runs scored in the 12-run fourth inning which saw 17 batters come to the plate and all nine starters score a run.
"We had to get a rally started," Barberio said of his and Scott's offense in the fourth. "Jeff's hits were more key. Mine were kind of weak. But I think they were key to get a rally going."
The Indians handed Fox a 10-run lead for the top of the fifth inning and he recorded just only 1-2-3 inning to end the game. His complete-game effort featured 79 pitches (50 strikes), four walks, two hit batters and six strikeouts.
Persing said he had a reliever warming up in the first inning when Fox allowed the first five Millville batters, and nine of the first 14, to reach base. But he never had to use a reliever.
Fox threw just 34 pitches over the final three innings. He gave up all four runs in the first two innings. Moyle, Ebner and Koch combined on a brilliant relay from right field in the third inning to cut down a run at the plate and end the third inning, a play which really seemed to shift the momentum Muncy's way.
Millville never threatened to score again.
Millville310 00 - 4 4 6
Muncy011 (12)x- 14 9 1
Jared Solomon, Greg Lyons (4) and Brittan Kittle. Dawson Fox and Kenny Koch. W-Fox. L-Solomon.
Top Millville hitters: Tyler Fisk 2B. Top Muncy hitters: T.J. Moyle, 2B, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Dawson Fox, 2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 runs; Anthony Barberio, 2-3, RBI, 2 runs; Jeff Scott, 2-3, 2 runs.
Records: Muncy (1-0); Millville (0-1). Next: Muncy vs. Montgomery, today.