INDIANA COUNTY LEAGUE: Bovard nearing another title
BLAIRSVILLE — A day removed from watching Blairsville earn a dramatic come-from-behind win in Game 3, Bovard regained its mojo with the most lopsided win of the best-of-seven Indiana County League championship series.
The Bison made the Colts pay for six errors, scored in every inning but the first and seventh and inched closer to clinching their fourth straight league title by rolling to a 10-4 win Thursday at One River Field. The Colts won the third game, 5-4, but have been outscored 21-9 and held to 15 hits in the first four games of the series. The Bison have won 13 of their last 14 championship series games.
Blairsville (18-13-1) travels to Bovard (27-3) for Game 5 this evening.
“We bounced back strong,” said Bovard player-manager Mike Johnson, who finished 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. “We got some runs early, Joe (Novak) pitched a great game, and the defense played well. That’s the name of the game.”
Johnson got things rolling for the Bison in the top of the second when he doubled and later scored on Zak Zimmerman’s single. Zimmerman then scored on a throwing error by shortstop Scott Harsh to give Bovard a 2-0 lead.
In the third, Steve Anderson reached base on an error by third baseman Brock Harsh and scored on an error by second baseman Scott Thompson to make it 3-0.
Anderson again delivered in the top of the fourth by smacking an RBI single that plated Zimmerman. Zach Martin also scored on the play on an error by left fielder Jarred Pennavaria to make it 5-0.
“Our gloves didn’t help very much tonight,” said Blairsville player-manager Joe Culler. “That was probably the first time all year we had a game like that in the field. We didn’t do much to help our starting pitcher out, Bobby (Gaston).”
Bovard padded its lead and plated four runs on two walks, two errors and a hit in the following inning to stretch its lead to 9-0. Johnson scored in the inning and ripped an RBI single that plated Anthony Bozzuto.
“(Gaston) pitched well. He pitched real well. We just got some key hits and some key walks and we got the runs we needed. Those things happen,” said Johnson.
Scott Harsh and Cory Manarelli each singled and scored on errors in the bottom of the fifth to put Blairsville on the board and make it 9-2.
Bovard answered the rally and Matt Moyer scored a run on an RBI single by Zimmerman to make the score 10-2.
Scott Harsh belted a two-run double that scored Brock Harsh and David Doak in the bottom of the sixth to trim Bovard’s lead to six runs, 10-4.
Anderson, pitching in relief, baited pinch hitter Josh Goldberg into grounding out to second baseman Zimmerman with two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.
Novak fanned six, walked two and allowed five hits and two earned runs in six innings to pick up the win. Anderson struck out one and walked one in one inning of relief.
Although Novak felt satisfied with the win, he admitted that it’s always a challenge to pick up the series-clinching win in a best-of-seven scenario.
“We’re absolutely excited to a chance to win it at home, but there’s no let-up,” said Novak. “We’ve got to win that fourth game, and the fourth game is always the hardest to win. Momentum only takes you so far. You’ve got to make the plays, hit, pitch and field. You’ve got to really concentrate. The moment you relax, the other team is going to have an advantage.”
Scott Harsh led Blairsville by going 2-for-3.
Bovard committed its only two errors of the series on the same play in the bottom of the fifth. The Bison have outhit the Colts 32-15.