The opportunity for the Lorain County Ironmen to break a four-game losing streak manifested itself in a bases-loaded, one-out situation with Lorain native J.T. Feldkamp at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning against the West Virginia Miners in Prospect League action at The Pipe Yard on Monday night.
Feldkamp worked the count to 3-0 and fought the hitter’s instinct to swing when ball four sailed high of the strike zone. Feldkamp’s walk allowed pinch runner James DiBiasio (Westlake/Ohio Wesleyan) to score the game-winning run in a 2-1 win over the Miners (7-9).
“I was trying to hit the ball maybe into the air and try and get someone in and not ground out into a double play,” Feldkamp said of his mind-set before the at-bat. “I was willing to take the walk as long as we got the win. I’d rather have a hit than a walk, but as long as we win, it doesn’t matter.”
“I’ll take a win any way they come, this just works the heart a little bit more,” Ironmen manager Eric Cormell said. “It’s a little anticlimactic coming off a walk, but we’ll take it. J.T. said he was hoping to get a pitch he could drive, but he did a good job of laying off those balls and not swinging at a pitch he could pop up. It was a big at-bat.”
The Ironmen (7-10) looked poised to take the lead in the sixth, but a baserunning error cost them.
Designated hitter Stephen Hagen was on base with a walk when Austin Ingraham drove a fly ball to left field. West Virginia outfielder Andrew Weaver misread the ball and let it fall for a hit on the warning track.
Hagen had run around second base and back before seeing the ball fall to the field and was able to make it to third. However, West Virginia pitcher Chris Marlowe tossed the ball to second base and appealed to the umpire, who then ruled that Hagen had not touched second base on his way back to third.
Prior to Hagen’s out, the Ironmen had two runners thrown out at home plate in the first and second innings.
“I saw the play and our guy made the right move. He was actually on top of the bag,” Cormell said of Hagen. “Sometimes, guys try to make a bigger show than it is. I still won’t agree with the call. They felt he needed to retag, but he was on it as the play unfolded. I just thought it was an inappropriate time of the game.”
The Ironmen tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The first two batters were retired on a total of six pitches before leadoff batter, Evan Melendez (Amherst/Ashland), worked a four-pitch walk from Chris Marlowe. Melendez led off from first and drew a throw over, but for the second time on the day, Marlowe sent the pickoff attempt beyond the reach of Blake Roberts and down the right-field line.
Melendez motored to third base and came home on a wild pitch from Marlowe.
Before the Ironmen scored their first run of the game, it was the Miners who took advantage of the opportunities they were given.
After a leadoff walk to Jeremy Robinson in the second inning, Ironmen pitcher Kris Hall (Strongsville/Cleveland State) struck out the next two hitters. However, after Roberts was retired, Hall and his catcher started running toward the dugout. With the unmanned baseball just sitting on the mound, Robinson hustled down to second base and into scoring position.
Catcher Chris Kay, the next Miner hitter, worked the count to 2-2 before driving Robinson in with a double to the gap in left-center field.