Loughney’s clutch hit draws Uncommon even with Frozen Ropes in 17U

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 2, 2024

Logan Bach drives in the game’s first run with a second inning fielder’s choice for the Rockies.

By Rich Bevensee

For as many times the Uncommon Baseball 2025 Gold batters arrived at the plate with a chance to do some damage and turned back to the dugout empty handed, coach Ben Lippincott maintained his belief that there had to be one player who could get the job done.

With two out in the bottom of the sixth inning, the tying run on third and the 1-hour, 50-minute game clock expired, that young man finally strode to the plate.

Pat Loughney, hitless in three prior at bats, drove a two-strike single into left field to drive in younger brother Joe Loughney from third with the tying run to help Uncommon earn a 6-6 tie with the Frozen Ropes Rockies in the 17/18U Wood Bat bracket of the Home Run Classic Powered by Victus on Saturday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington. 

“That’s why I put him in the three hole,” Lippincott said. “I have faith in him to come up and do stuff like that.”

The fact that Loughney got a key hit in a clutch situation bailed out an Uncommon team which struggled to do that very thing for five innings. 

Uncommon, which trailed the entire game, had just two hits heading into the sixth inning. Compounding the issue was that the ballclub from Conshohocken, Pa., was hitless in nine at bats with runners in scoring position before Loughney’s game-tying single.

“We left runners everywhere,” Lippincott said. “We had baserunners in scoring position every inning. You preach, ‘Put pressure, put pressure, put pressure,’ but one time you have to have the clutch hit. And one time we got the clutch hit that put us right back in this. 

“It sucks to end in a tie because of the time limit but I’m really proud because these guys never gave up, not one time.”

The Rockies entered the bottom of the sixth leading 4-2, but Uncommon scratched out a pair of infield hits against reliever Charlie Gargiulo to get the tying runs aboard. Tim Regan, Uncommon’s No. 10 batter who led off the inning with a single, eventually scored on a wild pitch to bring his team within a run.

The blown lead and tie ballgame left a sour taste in the mouth of Rockies coach Joe Scaglione, but he, like Lippincott, was quick to offer a positive from a game pocked with negative statistics. 

The Rockies managed just four hits and were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

“We could have had a few more hits and it hurts to give up the lead, but we walk away with a tie,” Scaglione said. “There were a lot of positives.  We stayed in the game, we were competitive and we didn’t give up. Our starting pitcher didn’t have it but our next guy came in and closed it down.”

Scaglione is referring to the performance of Rockies reliever Tyler Bach, whose effort was a highlight in an otherwise frustrating contest. Bach pitched 2⅓ scoreless innings and permitted two hits and one walk while striking out three.

Bach’s counterpart in relief, Uncommon’s Luke Vogt, was just as effective. Vogt allowed one run on one hit and two walks over two innings. He struck out the side in the top of the sixth to breathe some excitement into the Uncommon bench heading into the bottom of the frame. 

“That’s all you can ask from a reliever – pump strikes and keep your defense engaged and work, work, work,” Lippincott said. “It gets us back in the dugout quicker and keeps the energy going.”

The scoring began with a Rockies three-run rally in the top of the second inning. Bach had a fielder’s choice RBI, starting pitcher Ryan Lawler drove in a run with a long triple to right center, and Dax Yazdani added an RBI groundout. 

Uncommon began to chip away at the Rockies’ lead with a single run in the second, when Joe Loughney was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make the score 3-1. 

In the third Uncommon scratched out another run when Nate Vahey walked with the bases loaded, bringing his team to within a run.

Frozen Ropes scored what appeared to be a major insurance run in the top of the fifth. Jason Vermette hit into a double play but Bach scored from third on the play to give his team a 4-2 lead. 

The bottom of the sixth began ominously for Gargiulo, a hard-throwing righty brought in to protect a two-run lead. Regan reached on a slow chopper to short with one out, and Joe Loughney did the same. 

After Gargiulo got a strikeout for the second out, a double steal put the tying runs in scoring position. Regan then scampered home on a wild pitch, and Pat Loughney, a rising senior at Abingdon High, stroked a hard hit ball into left to drive in his brother with the tying run.  

Gargiulo preserved a tie for the Rockies by inducing a fly ball to center for the third out.

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