Sometimes it takes losing to one of the best to become one of the best — and that’s exactly what the Camden-Frontier baseball team is hoping right now, following a devastating 3-2 district semifinals loss to the Rangers.
After losing a heart-breaker in the 2008 district semifinals at the hands of Reading, the Redskins scrapped to score the tying runs in the seventh inning Friday, only to lose an 11-inning thriller that took nearly two-and-a-half hours to decide.
After three-and-a-half extra innings of hardly any feet on the basepaths, Reading freshman Chad Berger hit an RBI double off Brady Nusbaum to bring home Ryan Dillon for the winning run.
The game may have been cut short by about an hour if not for some seventh inning heroics though.
In one of Dillon’s only rough innings on the hill, he hit a batter and walked another, before Kurtis Tyler belted an RBI double that nearly brought in the tying run.
Instead Nusbaum slipped rounding third and had to hold up, with two outs and his team still down a run.
“I thought we were cursed there for a second,” C-F head coach Nate Gust said. “We had runners on second or third like five times throughout the game and I could not believe when I looked over and Brady was on the ground. It seemed like things just weren’t destined to go our way.”
They did go the Redskins way though, if even just for a little while.
Jake Jivivden drew a walk to follow up Tyler’s double and Dillon threw four balls to Jasper Miller, the final one disputed by Reading coach Rick Bailey, to walk in the tying run.
Despite hitting a few rough spots, Dillon’s arm played a big role in a memorable pitcher’s role.
Dillon went 10 innings, the maximum allowed by MHSAA rules, and allowed just five hits and struck out seven. He did hit two batters and threw two wild pitches, by Bailey was more than pleased with Dillon for a number of reasons.
“Ryan Dillon matched (Tyler) him pitch for pitch,” he said. “Probably as big as his pitching today though was the words he said to the team before we started the day. I wasn’t part of that, it was just the team, but I know Ryan took charge of it and we just came to play and I think he sets that tone for us.”
Opposite Dillon, Tyler used a hard-to-hit fastball that moved all over the plate to go 10 innings as well.
He struck out 11, including six different Rangers, and limited Reading to six hits and walked just one.
Gust said Tyler showed why he is one of the best in the county and he said he was still somewhat fresh after 10 innings and jokingly added that he “probably could’ve gone 22 innings”.
Nonetheless he said he understands rules are rules.
“Yes and no I guess (on the limiting a pitcher’s innings),” he said. “It’s a good rule for protecting the kids during the year, but I think maybe it should be like 11 or 12 innings this time of year, but I’m not complaining about how the MHSAA runs things, I just know Kurtis had only thrown 110-115 pitches.”
Offensively Tyler drove in a run for Camden-Frontier and Joe Hubbard had three hits, two runs and a walk for Reading.
While it was a tough way for Gust’s SCAA East championship team to end the season he said there is plenty of hope for the future.
“It’s one of those things. It’s like you have to earn getting there. You don’t just go from a 6-15 team to a regional team, you’ve got to take your lumps,” he said. “I just told them to remember that three years ago we didn’t even belong on the same field as Reading…I think they beat us like 18-0…and now there’s hardly and separation between our programs. Everything is headed in the right direction, we just have to stick with it.”