NORTHUMBERLAND - It was top of the final inning and the boys from West Snyder jammed fists, somehow certain they would pull out yet another shocker. It didn't matter that they trailed by four runs against powerful Sunbury/Norry, the No.1 seed in the Susquehanna Valley American Legion League playoffs.
"I thought we could do it," West Snyder's Alex Lash said, who got the inning going with a double. "We had the heart of the lineup ready to bat. I figured we'd get at least four runs to tie."
Maybe even more. After all, the No. 8 seed in the tourney had already surprised a long line of giants, surviving a week of elimination games on the road. One more upset and West Snyder would be sitting in the championship final.
It was not to be.
On Monday evening at Pineknotter Park in Northumberland, West Snyder's amazing postseason road trip was finally halted as Sunbury/Norry pulled out an 8-4 victory.
"The kids believed," West Snyder coach Chris Combs said. "And we had spurts where we could do it. We were ready today; we just didn't get the big, timely hits."
They certainly started on fire, getting three runs in the top of the second thanks to a bases-clearing double by Zach Mast. To add to the drama, Mast began the two-out effort by swinging and missing at two rather high pitches.
"I dug myself into a hole and had to fight back," he said. "Lucky that one fell in."
Shane Connahan singled home Bailey Coder in the fourth and West Snyder had a 4-1 advantage. But that changed dramatically as Sunbury/Norry scored four times in the bottom of the fourth, twice in the fifth, and once again in the sixth. It also didn't help that Sunbury reliever Andrew Eyster threw three shutout innings.
Lash finished the game with two hits for West Snyder. Mast, Connahan, and Luke Zimmerman had solo hits. Unfortunately, West Snyder stranded eight runners, six of them in scoring position.
On the positive side was the defense, including spectacular running and diving catches in the outfield by Connahan, Colton Snook, and Colton Keister.
"The outfield has played really well all season," Combs said. "Sunbury is solid. They'd hit the ball hard and we would run them down."
After going 5-11 during the regular season, West Snyder fell in the postseason opener to No. 9 Line Mountain. That would be their only home game.
"It was a grueling road," Combs said.
A road in which they whipped Shamokin, Catawissa, Selinsgrove, and Danville. Their 4-2 mark in the playoffs pushed the final overall record to 9-12.
"We're a very young team," Lash said. "We never got down on ourselves. We just had fun with it."
"The guys played really good baseball," Combs said. "I was very proud of them."
Sunbury/Norry now travels to Berwick. It will have to win twice against the Columbia County team to claim the SVALL title.