NEWPORT - After two innings Monday, Newport was clinging to a one-run lead over East Juniata.
In the third, a pair of unusual occurrences turned the tide against the visiting Tigers. Add three runs by the home team an inning later, and it's a 9-4 final favoring the Buffaloes in their Tri-Valley League baseball game under the lights.
In the top of the third, after answering a five-run first by Newport, East Juniata started with a man on when designated hitter Jesse Watts - who had an RBI triple in his first trip to the plate - was hit by a pitch. Ryan Stuck came to bat, and laced a ball toward short that looked like it would break the infield.
Sentinel photo by LARRY YOHN
East Juniata’s Jesse Watts, right, slides safely into third base after hitting an RBI triple Monday evening in Newport. Newport’s Mark Little awaits the throw. East Juniata fell to Newport 9-4.
It didn't - Newport's Chris Eisenhart stole the base hit out of the air, and rocketed a ball across to first, catching Watts off the bag and turning it into a double play. Eisenhart made a put out to end the inning with two more East Juniata base runners stranded.
"Line drive, looked like it was through, the shortstop catches it and turns it into two. It kind of took the wind out of our sails," East Juniata coach Tim Brubaker said.
Then in the bottom, Newport's Cole Bower reached on an error, then scored on another when teammate Jordan Clegg was the beneficiary of a third strike passed ball, and got to first safely when the Tigers missed the throw to first.
East Juniata hosts Carson Long today
From that point forward, East Juniata had just two singles and five total base runners, only two of whom got to second. But the Tigers left runners in scoring position in five of the seven innings.
"We had runners on first and second several times and couldn't get them across, couldn't get the clutch hit," Brubaker said.
Newport tacked on three runs in the fourth to seal the victory.
The Buffaloes put the visitors in a hole early, scoring five runs on three hits in the bottom of the first, reversing what started as a 2-0 East Juniata lead.
In the top, Tyler Inch drew the first of three walks, and was plated on a Kyle Pannebaker double. Watts' triple drove in the second run. The Tigers added two in the second to cut the margin to a run as Nick Heister walked and Bailey Coder tripled. Then Coder came home on a sacrifice fly by Nick Lorenz.
Inch was on third after his second walk when the frame ended, the second time the Tigers left a man 90 feet from a run in as many innings.
Newport's first was aided by two walks and an infield error to load the bases for cleanup hitter Jon Geyer, whose base hit put the first two over. Geyer crossed on a Bower single and Hunter Heller tripled two more in.
"We played loose ball in that our pitching walked batters, which created errors by our defense," Brubaker said. "They got back on their heels and didn't perform."
The third-inning run made it 6-4; three base hits and a double got the last three runs in for the Buffaloes.
The Tigers were on first and second with one out in the sixth, but were shut down cold in the seventh, with stellar throws by Eisenhart playing a role in both innings.
"He played a real whale of a game tonight," Brubaker said. "Defensively, he calmed them down and kept them in the game."
East Juniata (7-6, 4-6) has two more non-league games this week; the Tigers host Carson Long today.