PRINCETON — When it came to trick plays Friday at Prather Field the scorebook read: Princeton 1, Hall 1. As for the final score, Princeton prevailed 3, Hall 2.
Austin Schindel drove in the go-ahead run with a single to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning for the Tigers. Tiger closer Nick Rolando came on relief in the seventh, setting the side down in order for the save. It was the second win over the rival Red Devils this spring.
“Minus a couple tricks for the night, it was pretty solid baseball all the way through,” PHS coach Tim Taylor said. “Hats off to Hall for a good game. I’m real happy for my boys to get two games from Hall this year.”
Most interesting in the game were trick plays — one by each team.
Hall was the first to pull some Tom-foolery in the bottom of the fifth inning. With Tiger Matt Hayes leading off first, Red Devil pitcher Danny Nolasco stepped off the rubber and faked a pickoff throw to first. First baseman Matt Boucher dove for the phantom throw and right fielder Ian Trevier ran in from his position with someone in red yelling, “ball, ball, ball.”
The unsuspecting Hayes bit, hook, line and sinker, and ran toward second and found himself caught in a pickle.
It was a play the Red Devils just put into place at practice and talked about in a break of the action.
“I actually told the kids half-jokingly, ‘If this ever works I’ll take you to Prime Quarter.’ Well, here we are, Princeton, of all places, and it works,” Hall coach Tom Keegan said. “It’s good to see stuff work like that because when you’re on the other end, it’s no fun. We were on the other end, twice, and that was a killer for us.”
Taylor said he was yelling at Hayes, “No. no. no,’ but he didn’t catch it.”
The Tigers returned the favor in the sixth inning.
Miguel Villareal reached on an error and Ian Trevier moved him to second on a sacrifice. The ball was thrown to shortstop Nick Rolando, who appeared to have thrown it back to pitcher Isaiah Taylor. Rolando, kept the ball, with Taylor hovering around the mound, his exact location a subject of debate. Villareal ventured off the base and Rolando quickly tagged him out.
Keegan debated the ruling, believing Taylor was still on the dirt of the mound, which would be an illegal play. After a discussion with both umpires, the out call was upheld. A two-out hit by the next hitter, Zach Urbanski, went for naught.
“Some of the things by both teams on the base paths were unreal,” Keegan said. “Guy on third, snap pick throw by us, kills the inning. Hidden ball trick, and the real kicker was the base hit to follow that up that probably would have scored the run.”
Tim Taylor, who said his son was off the mound when the Tigers pulled off the old hidden ball track, noted it was not a scripted action of revenge, bur rather something “the boys just did it on their own. They figured one good turn deserves another.”
Hall (12-4) struck first with two runs in the first inning, including a RBI single by Brett Fanning and RBI double by Blake Moreno.
Isaiah Taylor, who scattered six hits over six innings with four strikeouts for the win, was determined to make amends for the runs he allowed, smacking a two-run double in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 2.
“It’s always nice to get that back and try getting a bigger lead, 3-2,” Taylor said. “It’s a win. I’m OK with a win. It doesn’t have to be pretty. ... It was good baseball game. Hall’s got a great a team.”
After the dust had settled on the trick plays, the Tigers mounted their winning rally in the sixth. Rolando led off with a walk, Logan Wilde singled to right before Schindel lined into left field to play Rolando with the go-ahead run.
Rolando took over in the seventh, setting the Red Devils (12-4) down in order, the first by strikeouts. He is now 4 for 4 in save opportunities.
“Unfortunately, we’re not stringing enough offensively to help our guys out,” Keegan said. “After that first inning, I thought here we go, hopefully, we’re going to bust out today. Nothing doing after that. We’re just going to keep plugging away.”
Notes: The Tigers (9-6) traveled to Peoria Manual Monday and will travel to Ottawa Friday, Hall met Putnam County at home Monday for a key Tri-County Conference clash.