Samuel Hiciano was charging hard toward the infield. He knew he had a shot at throwing out Cesar Valera rounding third base.
But as the Williamsport left fielder reached down to field the bouncing ball hit by the Spikes' Carson Kelly, it skipped under his glove, rolling all the way to the left-field fence.
With that one play, two runs scored Tuesday night at Bowman Field in the top of the 11th inning and with it disappeared Williamsport's chances for a win. State College scored three runs in the top of the 11th inning last night, enough to top the Crosscutters, 5-3, in the final game the two teams will play against each other at Bowman Field.
Drew Anderson pitches for the Crosscutters Tuesday night at Bowman Field.
State College erased a pair of one-run deficits in the game to pick up the win and remain one game ahead of Jamestown for first place in the Pinckney Division. The magic number for State College to clinch its first-ever New York-Penn League playoff spot is four. Williamsport was eliminated from playoff contention.
"We played 11 innings, so you can say we battled," Cutters manager Nelson Prada said. "But if Hiciano catches that ball, it's a different story for the bottom of the 11th."
The loss wasted another brilliant start from Williamsport pitcher Drew Anderson who threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Coming off just his second start of the season where he failed to go five innings, Anderson was brilliant last night.
After allowing a one-out double in the first inning, Anderson retired 11 batters in a row, including retiring the side in order in the second, third and fourth innings. Mason Katz, the Cardinals' fourth-round draft pick this year out of LSU, broke the string with an infield single in the fifth inning.
Anderson faced just two batters over the minimum in his five innings, throwing 50 of his 75 pitches for strikes. Of his six strikeouts, five came on a fastball that was 92-93 mph. Four were fastballs on the outside corner, one was on a fastball up. He also struck out Brett Wiley with a backdoor breaking ball.
"He was using his fastball well," Prada said. "People think he's not throwing that hard sometimes because he looks like he's skinny. But he gets people missing fastballs. That's the way he pitches and the way he mixes. His pitchability is above the league right now. He's not a guy who is going to overmatch hitters, but he overmatches hitters just because of the way he pitches. Throwing 92-93 is a great way to overmatch hitters when they're expecting some breaking pitches."
The Williamsport offense staked Anderson a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Zach Green reached on a two-out error by first baseman David Washington who dropped a throw from Kelly at first base. It was the second night in a row Washington made a fundamental mistake at first on a catch which ended up leading to a Crosscutters run.
Williamsport proceeded to load the bases with two outs with a single from Andrew Knapp and a walk to Hiciano. Logan Pierce's two-strike drive to left field was caught easily just in front of the warning track by Jimmy Bosco to end the threat.
The Crosscutters sent seven batters to the plate in the first inning Tuesday night, after sending 10 to the plate in the first inning Monday in a seven-run outburst.
"You don't tell a guy he didn't execute with two outs, because Pierce hit the ball really good. He hit it hard with two strikes, that was perfect," Prada said. "Unfortunately, (State College) played no doubles the whole time. They pretty much played the whole time to not let something get over their head. I think if they're playing normal it goes over the left fielder's head."
Anderson left with the 1-0 lead, but his bullpen couldn't hold it. Keivi Rojas gave up a run in the top of the sixth inning on a two-out, RBI single by Wiley which just got under the glove of a diving Andrew Pullin at second base. After Williamsport took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning, State College tied it up again in the eighth when Cutters shortstop Jairo Cardozo failed to turn a double play on a slow roller up the middle with one out.
Williamsport put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Knapp struck out and Hiciano flew out to left field to end the threat.
After State College scored its three runs in the top of the 11th, the Cutters got one back on an RBI single by Gustavo Martinez, who represented the tying run. State College reliever Jeff Rauh then struck out pinch hitter Justin Parr and got Herlis Rodriguez to ground out to end the game.
The Cutters fell to 3-8 against State College.
"I think we played two great games against the team with the best record in the league, the best hitting in the league and the best pitching in the league," Prada said.