By Will Harrigan
Every time the PA Shockers 2024 squad comes to Diamond Nation, it seems like they win a tournament.
But trailing by six runs as time was literally running out on them in the Super Top 25 championship game, it appeared that trend was going to come to a crashing halt.
Then they launched a comeback that put the cherry on top of a fabulous summer.
A six-run explosion from the Shockers tied it to force extras, and once they got there, they scraped two more runs across to notch an improbable, 11-9, victory over Five Star Mid-Atlantic 16U Black in the Super Top 25 16U title game at Diamond Nation.
The Shockers closed out their summer by going 3-1-1 overall in the tournament, while Five Star wrapped up at 2-1-2. Kross Haworth – a Tulane commit who closed out the game by inducing a double-play ball, setting up a raucous celebration – garnered tournament MVP honors for the Shockers.
“It goes to show the kind of kids we have here,” said Shockers coach Danny Long. “Down six, it’s not looking good, and the guys just went to work and tried to get on base. We had a very, very good summer and this is a good way to end it.”
With International Tie-Breaker rules in play, Howarth launched a sacrifice fly to deep center to put the champions up 10-9 in the seventh. John DiGregorio followed that with an RBI single to double the lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, Howarth got Danny Stickney to hit into a tailor-made double play on the second pitch to end the contest. Under the tiebreaker rules, the inning begins with the bases loaded and one out.
“Kross had a great overall game,” said Long. “He pitched a scoreless inning to force extras then obviously got the double play. We have a lot of talent, including him, and we needed them to come up big. (Five Star) has a very good team over there.”
But before all those heroics in extras, the Shockers needed to launch a massive rally first and it came in the top of the sixth, what appeared to be its last at bat.
It started with a walk – it usually does – issued to Cooper Natisin, which was quickly followed by a DiGregorio double to put two men in scoring position.
After a pop-out to retire the first out, Howarth walked to juice the bases. That allowed Dustin McGuiness to drive in a run by drawing a free pass a batter later. Jeremy Fallon’s single cut the deficit to 9-5 and put the tying run at the dish, in the form of Grayson Weikel.
Weikel then doubled down the left-field line scoring two and suddenly making it 9-7.
That set up Dany Schwalm to equalize by blooping a single to center, erasing the six-run deficit in the blink of an eye.
Five Star put up a five-spot a half an inning earlier to build a 9-3 lead. Brayden Gregg’s two-RBI double and a run scoring single by Andrew Shute were the big hits in that rally.
Hassan Turner launched a two-RBI double for Five Star in the third, to help erase an early 2-0 lead the Shockers had built.