STATE COLLEGE - This may be as close to a gritty victory as the Williamsport Crosscutters get before venturing out of Pinckney Division play.
And against a State College Spikes team that has appeared overmatched through six games of the SawBuck Series, the Cutters still won by three runs.
Manager Dusty Wathan won't be complaining, as his team reaches .500 for the first time with a 5-2 victory Tuesday at Medlar Field to complete a three-game sweep. Nor will Justin De Fratus (2-0), who allowed two runs in five innings for Williamsport (7-7).
Nor will David Schwimer, who allowed one base runner in four innings for his first save.
But is it enough for some players, who have openly said they'd feel more confident with a couple late-inning, comeback victories under their belt?
It may have to be.
"Any win that you get is a confidence booster," said Williamsport first baseman Jeremy Hamilton of his team, which is 1-4 in games decided by two runs or less. "No matter if it's by one run or 11 runs. It's just building momentum for the next game."
Williamsport scattered 10 hits amongst eight batters, and should take solace in its execution, even if the Spikes did little during five straight losses against their regional rivals to foster any drama.
But with a 2-2 tie through four innings Tuesday, it could've been tense at last, if not for some textbook small ball against State Colllege (3-11) and reliever Kyle McPherson (1-1).
In the fourth, D'Arby Myers' hit-and-run single behind Arlon Quiroz put runners on the corners, before both eventually scored on singles by Travis D'Arnaud and Cody Overbeck. An inning later, Darin McDonald's sacrifice bunt put Troy Hanzawa on second, and he came in when Quiroz singled to center to make it 5-2.
"It was nice to see the guys execute and put the ball in play with runners in scoring position," Wathan said. "And to get some clutch RBIs, and to have somewhat of a tight ballgame. It's a good win coming back home."
Williamsport has batted .299 as a team against the Spikes, with 64 hits over that six-game stretch, while State College hit just .194 off Cutters pitching.
"If you ask me, I think we just out-competed them," said De Fratus, who allowed five hits and two walks while striking out four. "That's all I can say. They're not bad by any means. Things probably just aren't going as well for them, and I'm sure they will turn it around."
De Fratus outlasted Spikes starter Ryan Kelly, who allowed two runs in four innings. McPherson allowed the other three runs in three innings, yielding seven hits.
Yet, after McDonald's fielder's choice and Brandon Haislet's single each drove in a run to give Williamsport a 2-0, second-inning lead, De Fratus had to fight to stay around.
He gave a run back in the third, when Quincy Latimore tripled and scored on Kyle Morgan's grounder to short. Then he saw State College tie it when Calvin Anderson walked and eventually scored on Kyle Morgan's single.
"It gives my manager and my coaches a chance to see what kind of guy I am when things aren't going well," De Fratus said.
As for the Spikes, who begin a three-game home series against Vermont today?
"I give the credit to our pitching, not (blame) to their hitting," Schwimer said. "It's just basically coincidence. They're very good hitters, and I know a lot of them personally. Pitchers made good pitches at the right time."