Host team Walbeck Insurance played some of its most sound baseball of the year in the first 4ﾽ innings Sunday against Western Regional tournament champ Hempfield East.
Unfortunately for the Homer City-based entry, Hempfield East prevented an unlikely upset by delivering the last blow in a back-and-forth battle.
Hempfield East scored the game’s last five runs, including the eventual game-winner in the sixth inning, erasing a four-run deficit to sweat out a 5-4 win in an elimination game of the Pennsylvania Youth American Legion State Tournament at First Commonwealth Field.
Earlier Sunday, Walbeck Insurance (9-13) dropped its opening-round game to West Lawn Eastern Regional tournament champ Upper Perkiomen, 11-1, in a game that was shortened to six innings due to the mercy rule.
Western Regional tournament champ Hempfield East takes on Murrysville at 11 a.m. today in an elimination game.
“When you have your chances to jump on somebody you have to do it,” second-year Walbeck Insurance manager Doug McNulty said. “We just kind of thought those four runs would be enough, and we were hoping and hoping and hoping, but the win never came.”
Walbeck Insurance used three hits, two stolen bases and a walk in the top of the second inning to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Two innings later, Stephen Novak ripped a two-run single that scored Nate Davis and Levi Bruner, stretching Walbeck Insurance’s lead to 4-0.
“I told our guys beforehand, ‘If you can throw strikes and not walk guys, you’re going to be in every game,’” McNulty said. “Until we started having errors, and having some issues in the first game, we were in it. And then in this game, I thought we were going to win. I really felt good about our chances.”
But Hempfield East struck back and scored four runs on four hits, a walk, a balk, and an error in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game, 4-4. Josh Barth highlighted the rally with a two-run single.
The following inning, Zack Kokoska singled, stole second, advanced to third on an error and scored the eventual game-winning run on Austin Butler’s sacrifice fly.
Doug Pollock hit a two-out single in the seventh to give Walbeck Insurance a glimmer of hope. But with Pollock on second and Adam McCombs-Hilliard on first, reliever Butler induced a groundout to third base from Alex Arone to end the game.
“We just finally got to their pitcher,” Hempfield East manager Mike Gaffney said. “We waited, we waited, and we waited, and then we manufactured runs like we have all year.”
In the first game of the day, Upper Perkiomen broke open a 0-0 game by plating five runs on four hits, two wild pitches and an error in the top of the fourth inning.
After Walbeck Insurance scored its lone run in the bottom of the fourth, Upper Perkiomen mounted another five-run rally, this time capitalizing on four hits, two errors and a walk to make it 10-1 in the top of the fifth. Levi Stoudt ignited the rally with a two-run base hit.
Josh Fell paced Upper Perkiomen by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Stoudt, Elias Gabel-Tripp and Michael Felix each singled twice.
Jacob Breyer struck out five and walked one in four innings to earn the win.
Losing pitcher Novak struck out one and walked one in 4 2-3 innings.
BLOOMSBURG 2, MILLCREEK 1: Coty Kashner cracked an RBI single in the top of the seventh inning to lift Bloomsburg to a narrow win over Millcreek in an elimination game at Charlie Hogan Field.
Bloomsburg faces Beech Creek in an elimination game at 1 p.m. today.
With the game knotted 1-1 in the top of the seventh, Kashner hit an RBI single that scored Kevin Diehl for the eventual game-winning run.
Dan Koch put Bloomsburg on the board first when he belted an RBI single in the top of the third.
Millcreek’s Noah Warren tied the game 1-1 by walking and scoring on a fielder’s choice from Landon Oddono in the bottom of the fourth.
Jake Sniegocki led Millcreek by going 2-for-3.
Koch tossed a four-hitter to earn the win. He struck out seven and walked three.
Levi Becker struck out six and allowed five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
NEWTOWN 4, MURRYSVILLE 0: Newtown racked up eight hits and gave pitcher Brandon Shapiro more than enough run support to earn a win over Murrysville in a winners’ bracket game.
Both teams play today. Western Regional tournament runner-up Murrysville squares off with Hempfield East at 11 a.m. in an elimination game, and Pottstown Eastern Regional tournament champ Newtown faces Upper Perkiomen in the winner’s bracket at 7 p.m.
Tyler Nowmos reached base on a fielder’s choice and scored on an error in the bottom of the first to give Newtown a 1-0 lead. Seth Leuz followed with an RBI double to make it 2-0.
Cole Hofman singled twice for Newtown. Leuz finished 2-for-2.
Shapiro tossed a six-hitter. He struck out five and walked one.
UPPER PERKIOMEN 13, BEECH CREEK 10: Upper Perkiomen raced to an 11-0 lead and then held off a strong push from Beech Creek to notch a victory in a winners’ bracket game.
Both teams play today. Beech Creek takes on Bloomsburg in an elimination game at 1 p.m., and Upper Perkiomen tangles with Newtown in a winners’ bracket game at 7 p.m.
Although Upper Perkiomen got outhit 9-5, the Braves drew 10 walks and took advantage of four errors.
Upper Perkiomen plated seven runs on three walks, two hits and two errors in the bottom of the first. Michael Felix clubbed a two-run double to highlight the onslaught.
The Braves added four runs on two hits, two walks and an error in the third to stretch their lead to 11-0.
Josh Fell singled and drove in three runs for Upper Perkiomen. Felix finished 2-for-4.
Erik Stalford struck out two and walked four in five innings to pick up the win.
Branden Miller went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs for Beech Creek.