Well, at least Aron Litostanski had a stick in his hands when he suffered a frustrating injury.
Not the aluminum kind that pounds baseballs deep into outfielders. We're talking the composite kind that powers pucks into nets.
As his team's top returnee, the 6-2, 210-pound Litostanski was looking for a big senior season for Franklin Towne Charter's diamond squad. Instead, a severely sprained left ankle sidelined him for roughly half of the Coyotes' Public League schedule.
"I was trying out for an offseason hockey team," he said. "I came down on my ankle the wrong way, and then it rolled over. The doctor said I sprained every ligament. It killed me inside to know I was missing my senior year of baseball. You come to games and just sit there.
"I texted coach [Kyle] Riley the night it happened, and then I had to go to the hospital the next morning, because it blew up like crazy. I'm sure he wanted to cry. He just told me, 'Let it heal, then come back and help us.' "
Today at 3:15, Towne, as it's called, will visit Central for a quarterfinal in the overall portion of the Pub playoffs. That berth was won yesterday, in something approaching as-hard-as-possible fashion, with a 14-8 win over visiting Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter.
Litostanski was one of the bold-relief heroes. Though that choice of phrase is partially incorrect.
His relief stint did not go tremendously. Ah, but in the cleanup spot, he went 3-for-5 with a double and four RBI as the Coyotes, after falling into holes of 7-0 (first inning) and 8-1 (third inning), pulled out the W.
Litostanski crunched a one-run double to center in a four-run third, directed a two-run single to right in a four-run fourth, then managed to turn a blooper to right into a one-run single in a five-run fifth.
"I was pretty nervous after those first few innings," Litostanski said. "We always do come back, though. We may not always win [Towne was 2-10 in Division A], but we always get something going. I kept telling myself, 'We'll rally one of these innings.' Maybe not to overtake them, but at least make it interesting again."
Riley hoped to ease past PET without using Litostanski, so soph righthander Tim Hart strolled to the mound. He lasted five batters, then yielded to Litostanski, who began the game at first base. Litostanski surrendered the final three runs of the inning, along with one in the third, before soph righty Damian Padilla performed in wonderful fashion (one hit, six strikeouts) over the final four.
"We went through our whole staff today," Riley said. "Here's an oddity for you: Tim Hart will be back on the mound vs. Central."
Said Litostanski: "I was dying out there. This heat [close to 90 degrees with high humidity] was a whole 'nother level. I'd rather pitch when it's overcast and chilly."
In a hockey rink, maybe?
"Hockey's my No. 1 sport," said Litostanski, a defenseman planning to play for Temple's club program. "But in baseball season, that's my favorite, and I really love it, too.
"Not to talk about myself, but I have a lot of love for my team and this game. The doctor told me not to come back until May 28. I knew I'd be back before then, and I was. By 2 weeks."
Litostanski spent part of his down time serving as the Coyotes' first-base coach.
"I had some good moments," he said, smiling. "One time, I signed over to Riley that we should have a kid bunt. He put it on, and the kid got a hit. It was fun, but I'd much rather play."
Markus Malave, who personifies leadoff-hitter friskiness, singled twice, walked twice, stole four bases and scored four runs. Angel Lazu went 2-for-4 with a walk, two RBI and three runs scored. George Klein singled twice, drew a walk, lofted a sacrifice fly and finished with two RBI. They batted 1-2-3. No. 5 Tyler Landis had two RBI, and No. 6 Matt Kubacki went 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles and three RBI.
For PET, losing pitcher Tommy Hicks, a lefty who also catches, posted an RBI double among three hits, and Kevin Zayas delivered a two-run single.
The AAA tournament, affected greatly by the earlier rains and compressed schedule, forced the Chargers to play for the third consecutive day. By contrast, the top-seeded Coyotes enjoyed byes until the final. They hadn't played since May 13, when Litostanski hurled them to victory over Division A's top team, Julia Masterman.
Litostanski, who lives near Richmond and Orthodox in Bridesburg, envisions a career in physical therapy. Let's hear his advice for assuring fast recoveries.
"Rest," he said. "That's all I did." *