By Bob Balgemann


MACHESNEY PARK – It’s not good to give a baseball player named Chance the opportunity to win a game.

A Rockford East pitcher made that mistake Friday (May 6) and Harlem’s T.J. Chance responded by hitting a 3 and 1 count pitch over the scoreboard in deep left field, to give his team a 13-12 conference victory.

It was a walk-off homer, coming in the bottom of the seventh inning of a topsy-turvy game that saw a number of lead changes.

The win left the Huskies atop the NIC-10 with an 11-1 record.

Ten runs were scored in the first inning, seven by Harlem, which erased a 3-0 deficit. After a hit by Tyler Dietz, Zack Jones slammed his first home run, a two-run blast, to make it a 3-2 game. Chance followed later with his first homer of the day, a 380-foot shot that was good for three runs, to help the Huskies move ahead, 7-3.

East scored once in the third but Harlem countered with three in the fourth to increase the margin to 10-4. The E-Rabs weren’t through, however, closing the deficit to 10-8 with a four-spot in the fifth as the Huskies went through five pitchers that afternoon.

East came all the way back to edge ahead, 12-11, in the top of the sixth. Then Harlem (17-6 overall) rallied again, tying it with a singleton in the bottom of the inning on Aaron Cusimano’s sacrifice fly.

A key defensive play in the top of the seventh ended a E-Rab threat, in which they had runners at first and third with one out. Second baseman Dietz first threw out the runner on third, as he tried to score. Moments later the other runner was thrown out trying to advance from first base to third.

Earlier, potential East scores were denied by a double play in the first inning and having one of its runners picked off third base in the third.

Offensively, Harlem’s Brock Soter collected a single and double, with Jones driving in three runs.

Chance, who had five RBIs in the game, also won his third game of the season by pitching the seventh inning in relief.

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