FORT WAYNE – Saturday’s baseball doubleheader at Homestead was clicking right along – top of the third – when Snider pitcher Nathon Principe stepped into the right-hand-batter’s box to face Homestead right-handed starting pitcher Kyle Plasterer.
Homestead won the first 5-3, and Snider scored six unearned runs in the ninth inning to win the second 12-6. Because both games were not conference meetings for either Snider of the SAC or Homestead of the NHC, there were a couple changes in both lineups.
For eons, that’s how the Saturday doubleheaders have been done.
They give a few nonstarters a chance to play because the games don’t count in league standings.
For Principe, a curly haired junior with No. 13 on the back of his jersey, Saturday was his first starting assignment.
Principe played junior varsity last season, and he had pitched six or seven innings of varsity relief this year, Snider coach Marc Skelton said, and he had been to the plate about three times.
As soon as he fell, it was evident the loud crack didn’t come from Principe’s bat. Instead, it was him getting hit in the plastic helmet.
At first, he was on his back. He later rolled onto his side, then into a sitting position.
When Principe tried to stand, a trainer put both hands on the player’s shoulders to keep him down.
Slowly, he walked from the field to behind Snider’s first base dugout, where he was further examined. Meanwhile, Snider scored three runs in the inning, including two from a home run by Tyler Zimske.
By the time it was Homestead’s turn at the plate in the bottom of the third, Principe was back on the mound. And the first batter he’d face would be the guy who hit him – Kyle Plasterer, who drilled a two-strike double into left center that ignited the Spartans’ three-run inning.
I was definitely scared when I fell down, but now, all that’s in the past, Principe said.
I was trying to establish the inside corner, and it just got away, Plasterer said of the pitch.
When the games were complete, Plasterer said he told Principe in the handshake line that he didn’t mean to plunk him.
I love ’em, Principe said of the doubleheaders. It gives a chance for everybody to play.
When I was a kid I just couldn’t wait to play. I didn’t care if it was one game, two games; I just love playing.
Plasterer almost echoed the thought.
It’s Saturday, he said. There’s nothing better to do on a weekend than play baseball.