NEWVILLE — “It’s a shame someone had to lose today.”
That was the sentiment from both sides of the diamond as Carlisle topped Big Spring 3-2 in extra innings on “JT Kuhn Day,” honoring the memory of the Bulldog sophomore who died suddenly in March. Kuhn had been a student at both school districts, having transferred from the Big Spring School District to Carlisle and then back again.
Separated by only 11 miles, both communities turned out in large numbers for the varsity baseball game Saturday afternoon to celebrate Kuhn’s life and impact on others.
“As was said in the beginning, sometimes it’s about more than sport, but sport is a great way to bring people together,” John Fetterman said.
Fetterman, a member of Carlisle baseball’s booster club and father of sophomore catcher Jace, was instrumental in helping organize the day.
“The kids at Carlisle wanted to do something,” he said. “I called [Big Spring head coach] Josh Petty and asked him what they were planning on doing. I said it would make sense for the game to be against Carlisle. From there, the athletic directors and the coaches helped put it together.”
Both teams wore commemorative shirts emblazoned with “All for JT” on the front and “Ever Always Strong” on the back. The shirts were available for order with the proceeds going to scholarship funds at both schools in Kuhn’s memory for graduating seniors in the 2019 class.
Concession sales and a collection taken up during the varsity game also raised over $1,000 and counting for the scholarships.
The day began with both teams lined up on the baselines and the Kuhn family on the mound. JT’s parents, Toby and Jen, threw out ceremonial first pitches before joining the squads for a photo at home plate in front of a banner.
“The kids who played sports with JT up through probably knew him as well or better than most,” Fetterman said. “When you see them hurt and a way for them to heal, and then at the same time for the Kuhn family to smile. When you can put that together on the baseball field, it’s a great day.
“Jen told me she smiled more than she cried today. So I don’t know if there are any more words than that.”
In the eighth inning, the Herd, batting as the home team because the schools agreed to move the game from Carlisle to Big Spring, loaded the bases on a leadoff single and a pair of walks. After getting two outs on a force out at home and a strikeout, Herd third baseman Brandon Barrows drew a walk-off walk to push across the winning run.
Both teams had used strong starting pitching to neutralize each other. Carlisle right-hander Jonas Fowler allowed a first-inning run on an infield error, but his offense plated runs in the second and third innings off Bulldog southpaw Tyler Koser to take the lead.
Garrett Walk tripled to lead off the fifth inning for Big Spring, which scored the equalizer on a suicide squeeze bunt by Cody Beckfield. That’s where the score remained into extra innings.
Koser worked six strong innings, scattering six hits and striking out seven for the Bulldogs. His counterpart, Fowler, matched him over seven frames, allowing only four hits, walking two and whiffing eight. Sam Kulp picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief.
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