Jammers Win Eighth Straight
MG Grad Stack Plays Major Role In 7-6 Victory
It took Collin Stack a while to get from the playing field to the dressing room at Diethrick Park at the end of the Jamestown Jammers’ 7-6 victory over Elmira on Saturday night.
There were autographs to sign, hands to shake and family to greet.
One young fan, clutching a baseball, asked simply: “Are you the one who hit the home run?”
When Stack, a Maple Grove Junior-Senior High School graduate, answered in the affirmative, the boy said simply: “Nice job.”
It’s been that kind of start to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League for the outfielder from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
Last night, Stack drilled a majestic solo home run deep over the left-center field fence in the fourth inning and then drew a game-tying walk with the bases loaded in the eighth to help the Jammers to their eighth straight victory. Owners of a 10-2 record, the Jammers lead the West Division and are 1.5 games ahead of second-place Geneva (9-4) and 3.5 in front of third-place Onondaga (6-5).
Playing a key role in the hot start is Stack.
In the eight games he’s played this season — he joined the team late after UMBC earned a berth in the NCAA Division I Tournament — Stack is ninth in the PGCBL in batting (.368) and he’s driven in six runs and scored eight more.
“The ball doesn’t make the same noise off his bat that it does off other people’s bats,” Jammers coach Anthony Barone said. “He just has a different sound when he gets into some baseballs. … He’s been swinging it really well and that (home run) ball was crushed.”
Added Stack: “That was my first career no-doubter.”
As it turned out, the Jammers had no room for error.
Although they led, 2-0, 4-1 and 5-1, Elmira took the lead, 6-5, in the top of the eighth and were in position to end Jamestown’s winning streak. But the Jammers scored twice in the bottom half of the inning — Stack worked out a bases-loaded walk to tie the game and Ben Brookover hit a sacrifice fly to plate the game-winning run — and then Barone called on closer Cory Blessing in the ninth inning to finish up.
“That’s what Cory does and that’s why we’re happy to have him back to be our closer,” Barone said. “In my opinion, he was the best bullpen arm in the league last year. To have him back a year older and a year better, it could be a good year for him.”
Skyler Valentine collected three hits (double, RBI), Chris Estrada had two (RBI), Connor Rule added a two-run double and Brookover smashed a triple. Connor Ryan (2-0), one of five Jamestown pitchers, earned the win in relief.
Marshall Gilbert (double) had two hits and two RBIs; Anthony Nucerino had a triple and two RBIs; Brett Rodriguez drilled a solo home run; and Blake Shinkle chipped in a double for the Pioneers (6-7). Chase Austin took the loss in relief.
The Jammers are back in action today when they play a doubleheader at Elmira.
“We’re just trying to take one game at a time,” Barone said. “Our pitching has been dominant and offensively we’ve been really good. If we can keep combining things, we should have a good road trip.”
NOTES: One of the best defensive plays of the night came in the top of the eighth inning. With two runs already in and the game tied, Elmira’s Andrew Orzel hit a grounder in the direction of Jamestown second baseman Nick Bernick. Ranging far to his right, Bernick snared the ball, planted his right foot and fired to first baseman Brookover, who made a nice scoop to retire Orzel. “It might have been the turning point of the game,” Barone said. … The Jammers return home Thursday when they entertain Newark. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.