BIRDSBORO >> As Daniel Boone broke for the dugout after the top of the seventh inning Wednesday, Jeb Kurtz called out to his teammates.
“That run’s on me,” he said, referencing Exeter’s game-tying run in the inning. “Let’s go get this walkoff.”
An inning and a half later, Kurtz became a man of his word.
The Blazer sophomore scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Brett Goodrich’s bases-loaded knock to center field to send Daniel Boone to a 5-4 walk-off win over Exeter in Berks Conference I play.
“I walked two guys to start off the inning, so the run was on me,” recalled Kurtz of pitching relief the seventh. “So I wanted the guys to pick me up there and they did. We knew it wasn’t over.”
Kurtz opened up the bottom of the eighth inning with a double down the third-base line, then eventually moved over to third on Connor Cleaver’s groundout to first. Goodrich’s game-winning hit came after Exeter intentionally walked Matt Stevens to load up the bases.
“It was great to be in that position,” said Goodrich. “He gave me a fastball low and inside. Man, I love it. It’s what you play for.”
His team’s resilience stood tall in the mind of Daniel Boone manager Jason McCord well after the game ended.
“We talked about it, ‘You’re gonna have to go and win this game. Some way, somehow, you’re gonna have to go win it,’” he rehashed. “We have a lot of experience back. It’s guys who should really know how to win by now. I think they understood not to really get too low once that run crossed.”
With the result, Daniel Boone (2-1 Berks I, 3-2 overall) picks up its third straight win after starting out 0-2. Exeter, meanwhile, remains winless at 0-5 overall (0-3 Berks I).
Goodrich got the start on the mound and was strong in his third appearance of the season. The senior pitched into the sixth inning before being pulled with 99 pitches to his credit. He finished with three runs against him on seven hits and just one walk. He struck out three.
“I was locating my outside fastball pretty well,” said Goodrich. “I was hitting my spots with all three of my pitches.”
Opposing him, Exeter starter Christian Pochron was effective during his time on the mound. The junior right-hander lasted five innings, despite running into trouble in the first two innings where he was tagged for four runs (two earned).
Pochron mixed up his pitches well, keeping the Boone hitters off-balance. Hardly overwhelming on the radar gun, he set the tone with his pace on the mound in between pitches and got plenty of Blazer hitters out front. For the game, he struck out two hitters and walked four.
Boone racked up 12 hits on the game, led by Kurtz’s three-hit performance. Connor Cleaver finished with a pair of doubles while Chase Lacey was 2-for-4 with a triple and first baseman Teegan Duffie had two hits.
The Blazers left nine runners on base, including the game-winning run at third in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“Our guys had confidence,” said McCord. “They believed they could get it done.”
Down 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning, Exeter opened up with a pair of walks before Matt Fanelli laid down a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Brett Leister hit one off the outstretched glove of Chase Lacey at second base for an infield single to get Trey Paige across and even it at 4-4.
First baseman Colin Gehringer finished 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored while Nate Serba was 2-for-3 with a run. Paige hit 1-for-2 with a run scored and two RBI out of the leadoff spot before taking over pitching duties once Pochron was pulled.
Ex Marks The Spot >> The Blazers have never swept the season series against Exeter since the two teams were placed in the same division in 2013.
McCord knows Boone will need to bring it again when the two teams meet again at the end of the month.
“I was talking to their coach (Justin Freese) before the game and he was saying that he felt they were down a little bit,” said McCord. “But I told him, we always bring the best out in Exeter. They fight hard and they never go away.”
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