SULLIVAN TWP. — Well, that was awkward.
Weekday high school baseball games almost always start around 4:30 p.m., but a communication mix-up Monday caused Brookside to arrive at 5:21 for its Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division game against Black River.
Dudley Taw didn’t seem to mind, as the left-hander led the Cardinals to an easy and rainy 11-3 victory that finally ended with the sun well over the horizon at 7:55.
It certainly qualified as one of the stranger victories of his career.
“This is really awkward, honestly, because I haven’t played in a dark game like this in years,” a smiling Taw said.
Taw (1-0, 1.97 ERA) allowed three hits and two runs (one earned) over six innings while contending with intermittent showers that also varied in strength.
He received key support in the form of a towering three-run home run by catcher Mathew Seekins in the second inning, then helped his cause with a two-run double in the fourth.
Taw struggled with control initially by walking three over the first two innings, but retired seven straight in the heart of the game until giving up a fifth-inning single down the left-field line to Jeremy Minnich.
Though pinch runner Kyle Petruzzi later scored on an RBI single by Glen Crabtree (2-for-3), the Cardinals (4-2, 1-1) led 11-2 when Taw gave way to Zach Green in the seventh.
“At first it was a little awkward, but the team just helped me relax,” Taw said.
“I came in and they said, ‘Oh, you got this,’ and I felt real comfortable then. Honestly, what took the pressure off was (Seekins). Everyone else was helping me laugh a lot.”
Black River (4-2, 2-1) was uncomfortable from the opening pitch, as it was forced to stem boredom while waiting for Brookside to arrive.
The Pirates tended to the field for 4½ hours and were noticeably agitated every time coach Dan Kopornica reached for his phone in an attempt to get an update on where the Brookside bus was.
The distraction carried to the field somewhat, as starter Crabtree walked four and allowed four runs over two innings and the defense committed four errors on the day (and night).
Once the Pirates, who entered averaging 11.0 runs per game, got down 8-1 midway through the fourth, their swing-for-the- fences mentality played right into Taw’s hands.
“We’re going to lose a few. We’re not going undefeated, obviously,” Kopornica said. “The field conditions were bad — we all played on the same field conditions — but these guys were out here since 1 o’clock getting the field ready. (The Cardinals) were over an hour late getting here, so I think we were here too long.
“Maybe we took them a little bit lightly, but we just didn’t play our game. There’s two innings that got away from us.”
Brookside took the lead for good in the second on singles by Kyle Houston and Nathan Jasko before Seekins launched his three-run homer. An RBI single by Cameron Drew made it 4-0.
Black River responded when pinch runner Derek Hawley scored thanks to a passed ball and errant throw back to the pitcher, but the Cardinals blew the game open in the fourth on an RBI single by Ryan Blatzer (3-for-5), the two-run double by Taw and an error.
Everything else was cosmetic from that point, as Taw settled in and the Cardinals scored four runs on the 10 batters who walked or were hit by a pitch.
“This is three (wins) in a row now, and I really think we’re really coming together as a team,” Taw said. “This could be the start of something pretty good.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.