Bedford didn’t let an early deficit faze it on Sunday afternoon against Patton in the Cambria League American Legion playoffs.
The Hurricanes fell behind twice, but came roaring back with a big fifth inning that saw 10 men come to the plate and score five runs in a 9-6 win over the Redmen.
The loss knocked Patton from the double-elimination tournament.
“I’ve said it all year, the more you put their backs against the wall, the more they come out and respond and the hungrier they get,” said Bedford manager Kelbi Berg, whose team will square off against still-unbeaten Claysburg at 5:30 this evening in Bedford. “They did a great job battling through all seven innings. They played a complete game and I thought they did a great job picking up (winning pitcher Ty Black). He struggled a little bit off the bat, but they came back and got him the runs they needed to, and he really got a chance to settle in.”
Patton outhit Bedford 10-6, but Eric Grace was 3 for 4, including a double, with a run scored and three RBI.
“I was seeing the ball well and getting good pitches to hit and putting a good swing on it,” Grace said. “We knew when we got behind that we were going to fight to the end.
“This win means a lot to us. It gives us another chance to make the Region 7 tournament, which is the main goal.”
For Patton, it was a case of being a tired baseball team with a lot of heart, according to manager Ray Eckenrode.
“We played an emotional game Friday night (a 4-3 win over Portage in 10 innings) and had a tough game Saturday (a 6-5 loss to Claysburg in nine innings),” Eckenrode said. “I think that takes a lot out of you. I think we bounced back pretty well, but you only have so many bounce backs in you, and I think that, combined with our arms getting tired because of the extra innings, caught up to us.
“Nineteen innings of high-intensity baseball the last three days, we did not have a lot in the tank emotionally, and it manifested itself today and Saturday with uncharacteristic throwing errors,” Eckenrode said.
Bedford tallied a run in the first when Spencer McInroy reached on an error and scored on a double by Eric Grace.
The Redmen responded by jumping on Black for three runs in the bottom of the frame, keyed by a Josh Serafin triple, a single by Dom Milanesi (2 for 4) and a pair of walks.
Josh Bonatesta led off the second with a single and stole second. A ground out moved Bonatesta to third and he scored on a Serafin single.
Bedford cut the lead in half in the third with back-to-back singles by Isaac Stern and Grace and a Black sacrifice fly to score Stern.
The Hurricanes evened the contest in the fourth with a pair of runs keyed by a Patton error and a pair of walks by starter Nate Bearer.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Redmen regained the lead with a walk to Bonatesta and singles by Serafin and Bearer sandwiched around a Bedford miscue for a 6-4 advantage.
But that was the last damage Patton inflicted, as Black found his groove, allowing just two more hits, and reliever Dylan Downs gave up just one hit in his final two innings.
The five-run fifth was keyed by singles from Grace, Kyle Droz and Dylan Foor along with a Patton error, three walks and a hit batsman.
“We went to the plate with the approach that we were going to take quality at-bats and, for the most part, we did that,” Berg said. “We were able to get the big hits when we needed to.”
Serafin finished 3 for 4 with two runs scored and Bonatesta was 2 for 3, also with a pair of runs scored.
“We had 18 wins this year, and we told the kids that we think that’s the most wins in 20-plus years,” Eckenrode said. “They laid the groundwork for some big things to come, hopefully. For the second year in a row, we’ve come close to regionals, but we are not going to quit until we get there.”
In other playoff action:
n Clayburg 4, Ebensburg 1: In Claysburg, Mike Mock and Cameron Strayer limited Ebensburg to five hits and one run as Claysburg stayed perfect in the playoffs.
Tyler Ickes led the Claysburg offense by going 2 for 2 with three runs scored and an RBI.
Scott Lucas had two hits for Ebensburg, which was eliminated. Troy Templeton took the complete-game loss.
Claysburg will play at Bedford at 5:30 this evening.