ROSSITER — The Rossiter Miners have their first title since 1993, ending their Federation League championship drought with an 8-4 win over the Brookville Grays Sunday afternoon at Shaffer Field.
And don’t think the fans or Miners themselves didn’t appreciate the title. Fireworks, cars beeping and a couple of longtime Rossiter players holding back tears after winning the best-of-seven series in five games.
Fittingly, it was 23-year Miner Pete Meterko scoring the go-ahead run in the Miners’ five-run bottom of the sixth inning that put them ahead for good.
Meterko was too young to play in the Miners’ last title in 1993, but he was on the roster for the nine finals they’ve lost since then until this year.
“We’ve been close a lot of times, and over the years we had some really good teams I’ve played with, but these bunch of guys are unbelievable,” Meterko said. “They never gave up. We’re down by 4-5 runs at times and come back. … It’s definitely bittersweet.
“It wasn’t one person. It was the whole team, from the coaches on down.”
The Grays, playing in their first final since sweeping Rossiter for the 2009 title, gave it a run in game five as they rode three-hit pitching from right-hander Kane McCall and a slim 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. But McCall tired, the Grays had nothing to follow him, and it was curtains.
“Kane threw a pretty good ballgame, but I didn’t have anybody to go to,” Grays manager Bob McCullough said. “I wanted more runs, but we just didn’t get a chance to put any more on and they were a team of destiny.”
Back-to-back singles by Dylan Conrad and Meterko started the sixth. A McCall wild pitch moved runners up a base before Ruben Taylor flew out to left field, not far enough for Conrad to score.
Kyle Neal then singled on a 2-2 pitch to plate Conrad and Dakota Thomas drove home the go-ahead run by lifting a sacrifice fly to right field, getting Meterko home.
The Miners weren’t done. McCall walked Mesoraco and hit Ty Zimmerman before winning pitcher Mark Saxman singled in two runs. Zimmerman then came home on a wild pitch to complete the title-winning rally.
“This team is never out of a game,” Miners manager Sam Bevak said. “We were down 5-0 in the first game … it’s the best team Rossiter has had in a long time. I’m cannot be more proud of this team. This is great.
“We were leaving a lot of guys on base, but I was optimistic that as long as we kept getting guys on, we were going to get them in.”
The Grays scored all four of their runs off Saxman in the first four innings. With two outs in the first, Tanner Klein and Jed Fiscus hit back-to-back doubles. Klein kept his hot bat going with a two-run homer to deep left field in the third inning.
Then with two outs and nobody on, the Grays got another set of back-to-back doubles from Thomas Plummer and Jarren Ross to go up 4-3.
The only other inning the Miners scored off McCall was the bottom of the first inning when Dakotah Byers blasted a three-run homer to left-center field. From there, McCall was able to keep the Miners off the board, stranding a runner at third in the second, one at second in the third, and getting an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fourth.
McCall gave up seven hits, walking five and striking out one. Saxman also yielded seven hits, walking four and striking out four.
In the seventh, Saxman got Fiscus to pop up to Byers at third to clinch the championship.
“The Rossiter fans deserve this,” Meterko said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have a team with as much money they’ve raised for us. It’s great to bring one back for them. I’ve been close so many years, within outs of winning, so it’s definitely been a rollercoaster with emotions. It’s a little hard to keep in with two outs there, but it’s awesome.
“It’s great to get one for Rossiter, but seriously, I was hurting for Rossiter those times not getting it for them for as much as they support us.”
But this time, the Miners started their emotional celebration right after Byers’ squeezed his mitt for the final out.
“That’s why you do it,” McCullough said.
The Miners’ Ty Zimmerman finished the finals hitting .529 (9-for-17) with eight runs batted in, earning him the finals MVP award.