Monday, May 29, 2023

P-O, BEA looking for postseason success

Philipsburg-Osceola and Bald Eagle Area are still alive and well in the District 6 baseball tournament, and both teams will be playing on May 25 in their respective semifinals.

State College was scheduled to play Altoona in the District 6, 6A championship game on May 24 in a game that was too late to be included in this issue of the Gazette.

Here’s a closer look at each team:

Philipsburg-Osceola’s Jake DeSimone and Brandon Hahn both homered and the Mounties collected a total of 12 hits in a 9-2 victory over Huntingdon in the District 6 AAA quarterfinals on May 19 in Philipsburg.

DeSimone connected in the first inning with a runner on base and gave his team an early 2-0 lead, while Hahn hit a three-run shot in the third inning that gave the Mounties a big 6-0 lead.

Huntingdon clawed back with two runs in its fourth inning, but P-O put things out of reach with another three-spot in the sixth.

“I was in a little bit of a slump,” DeSimone said, “so I was really just hunting a fast ball. I took a deep breath when I got in and I was just ready to hit the first good pitch and he served one up. 

“At first, I didn’t think it had enough, but then I saw it go over when I rounded first. It was a good tone setter. It got all the guys fired up, and it was nice to have a little cushion going into the second inning.”

DeSimone finished the game with three hits and three RBIs, while Ben Gustkey, Parker Lamb and DH Alex Knepp each had two hits. Hahn had a hit, a run scored and three RBIs.

Knepp, Gustkey, Lamb and DeSimone all had hits in the Mounties’ three-run rally in the sixth.

On the mound, Denny Prestash started and took the win, with Gavin Emigh coming in to get the final four outs.

With the win, the Mounties advanced to play No. 2 seeded Central on May 25 in Martinsburg. The winner will advance to the district final and get a bid to the PIAA tournament.

“Most of our starters were on the team last year when we lost in the first round to Penns Valley,” DeSimone said. “It’s a little different when you’re not a senior; there’s always next year. But now it’s our last time, and we’re in a fight for everything.

“We were excited all game and the guys were ready to go. We wanted to make sure that we took care of business, and we did.”

Central is 19-2 and ranked No. 2 in the D6 AAA bracket. The Dragons beat Penn Cambria in the quarterfinals, 7-6, and come into the semifinal on a 12-game winning streak that extends back to April 19.

Central and Philipsburg played earlier in the season, on May 8, and came away with a 17-11 victory in a slugfest. The Dragons came into the seventh inning tied with the Mounties and scored nine runs that swept them to the win.

More than any other team in the area, Bald Eagle Area relied on — and succeeded with — its very impressive pitching staff all season.

And No. 1 starter Tyler Serb showed another example of that in BEA’s District 6 AA quarterfinal matchup against United on May 19.

Serb threw an almost perfect one-hitter, and Bald Eagle Area gave him just enough offense to take a 3-0 victory over UHS.

Serb gave up just a single in the top of the fifth inning, struck out 13 and walked none. Travis Timko, who singled in the fifth inning, was the only United player to reach base.

BEA scored two unearned runs in the second inning on two passed balls and added an insurance run in the fifth on an RBI single by third baseman Justin Bisel.

Otherwise, it was up to Serb and the Eagles’ error-free defense. 

Kaden Burns hit a double, while Cameron Watkins, Carson Nagle and Tayten Yoder also got single hits for BEA in the game.

The win put the Eagles in the D6 semifinals against No. 5 Richland.

Richland is 13-6 overall this season, and the Rams defeated No. 4 Northern Cambria in the quarterfinals by a score of 14-4 in five innings.

Richland scored seven runs in the first inning, two more in the second, one in the third and then finished with four in the fourth. Northern Cambria scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth, but they were not enough to extend the game and it ended under the 10-run rule.

Luke Raho, Ethan Janidlo and Ethan Kaminsky all had three hits in the game for the Rams, while Janidlo and Kaminsky also had three RBIs. In all, Richland knocked out 15 hits, including five for extra bases.

For the season, Janidlo, Raho and Kaminsky are the team’s top hitters, while Kaminsky and Raho are also the Rams’ most effective pitchers, with ERAs below 2.00.

Richland finished the season in fifth place in the Laurel Highlands 1 Conference with a 9-6 record.

The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. on May 25 in Wingate. 

The winner will advance to play in the final against either No. 6 West Branch or No. 2 Mount Union on May 30 at Mount Aloysius College.

No. 2 Altoona (9-10) vs No. 1 State College (9-10)

District 6, 6A championship

Mount Aloysius College

The State College Little Lion baseball team secured its No 1 seed in the District 6, 6A rankings with a 5-4 victory over Selinsgrove on May 15.

The Lions were in a close race with No. 2 Altoona, and they finished just three total ranking points in front of the Mountain Lions.

This means that No. 2 Altoona, after a victory over Mifflin County, advanced to play State High in the championship game at Mt. Aloysius College.

State College finished the season with a 2-0 record against Altoona. State College beat the Mountain Lions at home on March 27, 8-3, and then again at Altoona on April 20 by a score of 14-4.

State College hit a slide early in the month and lost to four straight Mid Penn opponents, but since then the Lions have won two straight — over Bishop Guilfoyle in Altoona and at Selinsgrove.

The winner of the championship game will advance into the District 6-9-10 regional tournament, with the winner of that advancing to the PIAA tournament.