Small mistakes prove costly to Cutters

They were little plays at the time, miscommunication on a fly ball that fell, a ground ball which snuck under the glove of Jairo Cardozo. But their result was monumental Friday night at Bowman Field.

The two plays led directly to a pair of extra runs for Jamestown as the Jammers beat Williamsport, 4-3, in a battle of the top two teams in the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League. Jamestown pushed its lead in the division to four games over the Cutters behind 11 hits and a five-hitter from three pitchers.

It overshadowed a very well-played game from the Crosscutters, which included second-round pick Andrew Knapp hitting his first career home run in the first inning.

“They do a lot of good stuff. They’re leading the league in sacrifice flies, leading the league in bunts, second in stealing. They play the fundamentals pretty good,” Cutters manager Nelson Prada said. “And they catch the ball and throw strikes. That’s why they’re in first place. When you play teams like that, you don’t have room to make mistakes.”

Only one of the plays showed up as an error in the box score, but the two plays were misplayed by the Williamsport defense. The first was a leadoff blast to the right-center gap in the fourth inning by designated hitter Danny Collins.

Right fielder Dylan Cozens appeared to have a beat on the ball, despite a long run, but pulled up at the last second as he and center fielder Gustavo Martinez closed in on the ball. After the ball fell and it was thrown back into the infield, Cozens and Martinez began talking and gesturing to one another to try and figure out what happened.

Three batters later, Collins scored on a sacrifice fly from Elvis Escobar. It was the 18th sacrifice fly for Jamestown this year, seven more than second-place State College and Brookyln.

Cardozo’s misplay came on a play where a run was going to score regardless, but it allowed Jamestown to put together a multiple-run inning instead of being held to just one. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Cardozo sat back on a ground ball from Collins, but the ball went under Cardozo’s glove. Harold Ramirez scored on the play, and instead of a sure-fire double play, Jamestown still had runners on the corners with nobody out.

Two batters later, Edwin Espinal hit a two-out RBI single back through the middle to score Erich Weiss and give Jamestown its 4-3 lead.

“When you give good teams a break, they take it,” Prada said. “The ball that drops in the outfield scores. The ground ball is maybe a one-run inning instead of two. That’s two runs we give them and we could have won the game.”

The Jammers also scored a run in the first inning thanks to back-to-back two-out doubles, one on a flare down the right-field line which fell just in front of Cozens, and another on a ground ball just inside the first-base bag.

Tyler Buckley gave the Cutters’ an offense a chance to come back late in the game with 2 2/3 innings of one-hit shutout relief. He got a ground ball double play on the first pitch he threw in the seventh to escape a bases loaded, one-out jam.

He then recorded four of his final six outs by strikeout and stranded a runner on second in both the eighth and ninth innings to hold the score at 4-3. Buckley lowered his ERA to 1.10.

“He’s been money every time he comes out,” Knapp said. “He has that confidence on the mound where he knows what he can throw and then he throws it. He’s going to get guys out. To have a guy like that in the pen you can rely on, it’s big for the confidence of the team.”

Williamsport’s offense managed to rally the first two times Jamestown scored, scoring two in the bottom of the first after Jamestown scored in the top, and scoring another in the fourth after the Jammers added their second run. The first two runs came on Knapp’s majestic two-run home run to right field on a 1-0 pitch in the first inning.

It was the first professional home run for Knapp who was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick out of Cal in June. Relegated to DH duty after suffering a strained tendon in his right elbow in the first couple weeks of the season, Knapp said it was a weight off his shoulders to hit his first home run, especially to give Williamsport a 2-1 lead.

“When you have some at-bats every day you feel like you’ll run into a couple,” said Knapp, who’s hoping to return to catching within the next week or so. “The thing about baseball is you never know when it’s going to happen. It might come in streaks. Hopefully I keep swinging the bat well and hit stuff hard. You can’t worry about getting hits, you just have to worry about hitting it hard.”

“He’s got power. I think he’s a guy that when he makes it to the big leagues, he can hit 10 to 15 home runs a year,” Prada said. “That’s a little more than gap power. I think he has a nice swing and from the left side he has a little more power. That ball went far.”

Williamsport had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning when Logan Pierce walked and Jiandido Tromp had a broken-bat, pinch-hit single to put two runners on base with one out. But Justin Parr lined out to second base and Tromp was doubled off first to end the game.

The Cutters fell to 1-3 against Jamestown this season.

“We made a couple mistakes against a good team and they took advantage,” Prada said. “We gave them a couple runs and gave the game away.”