Last week, Hamlin experienced the lowest point of its American Legion Baseball League season.
The Rangers hosted winless Honesdale and suffered through a nightmarish outing...one of those games when absolutely everything goes wrong and the “baseball gods” seem aligned against you.
The result was an embarrassing Mercy Rule loss.
“Our morale was pretty bad that night,” Coach Mike Packer told TWI Sports. “We were low on pitchers and the energy just wasn’t there. Luckily, we got over it and came back strong.”
That’s the truth.
Hamlin erased the memories of that painful loss by traveling to the Maple City and wreaking vengeance on the home team. The Rangers swept both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader, winning the opener by a score of 7-4 and taking the nightcap 10-5.
With these two wins, Hamlin improved its overall record to 5-6 in District 15 action. Next on the agenda for the Rangers is a pair of home games against Hawley (Tuesday) and Montrose (Friday).
First pitch for each contest is slated for 5:30 p.m. at Western Wayne.
“We are definitely right in the thick of the playoff hunt,” Coach Packer said. “We’re going to be making a real push here in the last week of the season.”
Nate Packer drew the starting nod for Hamlin in Saturday’s first game and pitched brilliantly.
The veteran lefty worked four innings and allowed just one earned run. Nate piled up nine strikeouts along the way, didn’t walk a batter and was nicked for only two hits.
“Nate was struggling with his arm slot a little bit last week, but we got it straightened out,” Coach Packer said. “When a lefty drops down three-quarters or sidearm, the ball tends to flatten out and righthanded hitters just tee off. That’s not happening anymore.”
Kyle Johnson came on to relieve Packer and worked the final three frames. The fireballing righty was every bit as impressive in earning a save. Johnson struck out five Pythons and surrendered just one earned run on four hits.
Offensively, Logan Fitzsimmons led the Rangers’ assault. Hamlin’s slugging outfielder singled, doubled, collected a pair of RBIs and scored one run.
Matt Lukeski and Tanner Gillette also contributed mightily to the cause. Lukeski smoked an RBI two-bagger of his own and tallied twice. Gillette lashed a single, worked a pair of walks and scored two runs.
“Tanner is one tough kid,”?said Coach Packer. “He’ll play through pain and he’ll do absolutely anything you ask of him to help out the team. Tanner is a good ball-player and a great kid.”
Score by Innings...
HAM (4-6) 0 0 0 5 2 0 0 - 7
HON (1-8) 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 - 4
Saturday’s nightcap was deadlocked at 2-2 through three innings, but then Hamlin’s bats came to life in a big way.
The Rangers erupted for seven runs in the top of the 4th, then cruised to an eventual 10-5 win.
Coach Packer sent Nick Caucci to the hill as his starter and the young righty responded with a solid effort. He pitched three innings of 4-hit ball and allowed only two runs en route to the decision.
Caucci received relief help from teammates Jeremy Yzeik, Lucas Karnick and Bob Dyer. Of the three, Dyer gave Honesdale fits, striking out all three Pythons he faced on the bottom of the 7th to close things out.
At the plate, Kolyn Shane ignited a pair of Hamlin uprisings. The talented young lead-off man roped two hits, including a double, and tallied twice.
“The first time I saw this kid on the field, I knew he was a heck of an athlete and had the potential to a be a very good baseball player,” Coach Packer said. “We made him our lead-off hitter and he struggled a little with the curve, but he’s improved so much. I’m thrilled with how Kolyn is playing this summer.”
Tyler Beck, Kevin Karabin and Packer also feasted on Python pitching.
Beck smoked a pair of hits and drove in two runs. Karabin enjoyed a perfect 3-for-3 outing with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Packer also rapped out three base knocks and chased home two runners.
Lukeski chipped in with a double, two RBIs and two runs, while Fitzsimmons and Johnson added a two-bagger each.
“I’m very happy with how we played,”?Coach Packer said. “Let’s just hope we can keep it up now.”
Score by Innings...
HAM (5-6) 0 2 0 7 0 0 1 - 10
HON (1-9) 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 - 5