Count Chris Hadsall among those in favor of the new Small School/Big School format to the Field of Dreams.
The 6-year-old, all-star baseball competition between graduating players from the Wyoming Valley Conference and Lackawanna League split into two games for the first time this season. It was played as a doubleheader June 24 at PNC Field in Moosic, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the top farm team of the New York Yankees.
“I loved it,” said Hadsall, a third baseman from Lake-Lehman, who is headed to Keystone College to continue his baseball and academic careers. “You don’t want to put too many kids on one team. Everyone wants their playing time. It’s an all-star game.
“Everyone wants to hit and play the field. That’s what they go for. They just want to play and have fun, so I think the idea of a Big School game and a Small School game is a very good idea.”
Hadsall made the most of his playing time. He was in the WVC starting lineup as the clean-up hitter and was around for the end, providing the biggest hit of the five-run eighth inning that decided the extra-inning contest.
The Lackawanna League had erased a 5-1 deficit to take the lead before the WVC used a rally of its own to send the game into an extra inning tied at 6-6 after seven.
All-star game rules used a tiebreaker that put runners on first and second base to start the inning.
With the Lackawanna League still having its shot ahead in the bottom of the eighth, Hadsall figured a one-run WVC lead was not necessarily safe as he stepped to the plate.
“I felt like their offense was still very strong and we were only up one run at the time,” he said. “ … I just felt like I had a good chance to put us ahead by quite a few runs.”
Hadsall produced the result he was looking for, but it took some time to get there.
“Originally, I wanted to try to swing early in the count, get an early-pitch fastball and drive it somewhere in the outfield,” Hadsall said. “That didn’t really work out for me.
“I got into a later count.”
After fouling off 2-2 pitches, Hadsall got what he was seeking.
“I made him throw a good pitch for me,” Hadsall said. “I wasn’t going to let him get a curveball on the outside corner. I think I fouled two of those off.
“Eventually he gave me a pitch that I wanted.”
Hadsall sent the ball through the gap, bouncing to the wall in left-centerfield, driving in all three runs and allowing him to reach third base with a triple. From there, he scored his second run and the last of the game for the WVC.
Lake-Lehman teammate Henry Selingo also contributed to the win. He pitched a hitless, scoreless inning with one strikeout.
Hadsall finished 1-for-3 at the plate while Selingo was 0-for-1.
They improved to 3-0 at PNC Field after winning games there in their sophomore and junior high school seasons.
The change in formats also led to a switch from a nine-inning game to a doubleheader with two scheduled seven-inning games.
The Small School opener ran long, then the Big School nightcap had to be cut short.
The Big Schools settled for a 3-3 tie in five innings when lightning interrupted play.
Gary Custer from Tunkhannock coached the WVC Big Schools.
Nick Kocher from Dallas started at designated hitter and went 0-for-1. Kocher and Tunkhannock’s Connor Munley each pitched.
Munley overcame two walks by striking out three in a scoreless inning.
Kocher was on the mound when the game was stopped.
Matt Matthers from Dallas came off the bench to play catcher. Teammate Josh Lydon was available to pitch in relief, but did not get in when the game was cut short.
Drew Patton from Dallas had also been selected for the game.
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