Aggressive Crosscutters take Spikes

Teams move to State College tonight

Sentinel photo by MARK NANCE
Williamsport’s Danny Mayer, left, dives back to first base as State College first baseman Brady Whalen waits for the throw on a pick off attempt during their New York-Penn League opener at Williamsport’s Historic Bowman Field Friday.

WILLIAMSPORT — From the third-base coaching box, Pat Borders held two hands up in the air to stop Danny Mayer at second base. A leadoff double was more than good enough for the Williamsport Crosscutters’ manager in the seventh inning.

The only problem was Mayer didn’t stop at second base. He knew off the bat he had a shot to get three bases when he lined the ball to the right-center field gap. As he neared second base, Mayer’s read didn’t change and he charged past second base and headed for third.

The relay throw came in high and Mayer belly-flopped into the dirt at third base safely. Getting three bases changed the complexion of the seventh inning, forcing State College to pull the infield in with the game tied.

Two pitches later, Brayan Gonzalez rolled a single up the middle to score Mayer with the decisive run in the Crosscutters’ 3-2 opening day win over the Spikes at Historic Bowman Field. Williamsport moved to 4-0 in season openers under Borders as Ethan Lindow pitched five quality innings and Randy Alcantara and Luis Ramirez combined for four shutout innings of relief.

“Honestly, it may not have been the smartest decision because you never want to make the first or third out at third,” Mayer said after a 3-for-3 night. “I felt good about it and I had a good read. A good throw probably gets me, but thankfully the throw was high and I was able to get in there.”

Mayer torched a 1-2 pitch from Gabe Gentner to open the bottom of the seventh inning and sent it on a line up the right-center alley. He knew it was destined to get to the wall, and he knew the Cutters would have a big advantage with a runner on third and nobody out as opposed to a runner on second and nobody out. So he was thinking three bases out of the box.

Borders knew a good relay was going to make for a bang-bang play at third base if Mayer tried to stretch it, so he was content with a leadoff double and threw up the stop sign. But the fourth-year Williamsport manager is also a proponent of his players being aggressive, even if it means making a mistake.

Both he and Mayer admitted after the game going for three wasn’t the smartest move. It was a teachable moment which still workout out in the Cutters’ favor.

“He pushed the envelope a little bit. Maybe it works at this level, but the higher the level that you go, you’re going to be out,” Borders said. “It’s a good learning experience for him. I think it changed the whole dynamics of the inning and of the game.”

“If I’m going to make mistakes, I want to make them aggressively rather than timidly,” Mayer said. “I definitely think it’s a big advantage to have a runner at third with nobody out. I knew I wanted to get to third and give our team a chance to go ahead there.”

The Cutters were in position to take the lead in the seventh inning because Julio Francisco tied the game an inning earlier with his first professional home run. State College starting pitcher Franyel Casadilla cruised through the first five innings. The Venezuelan right-hander faced just one over the minimum through five innings despite allowing three hits.

The home run traveled 408 feet with a 99 mph exit velocity. After recording 20 extra-base hits last year but no home runs, it took just two plate appearances this season for Francisco to get his first pro homer, and it tied the game at 2-2.