ST. MICHAEL —
It didn’t take long for Bedford to pounce on early erraticism from St. Michael pitcher Joe Donoughe during Game 1 of a Cambria County American Legion semifinal series at Forest Hills High School, a game eventually won 3-0 by the Hurricanes.
Of the three batters walked by Donoughe in the first inning, two came around to score while Bedford pitcher Dylan Downs singled up the middle to drive in two runs and give the Hurricanes a three-run lead.
Donoughe settled in and held Bedford off the scoreboard through the remainder of his six innings.
Downs – the league’s ERA champion during the regular season – never let St. Michael on the scoreboard while notching the complete-game shutout.
“Dylan, he’s been solid all year,” Bedford manager Jordan Mills said. “He mixed up his pitches and got a lot of groundball outs. A lot of strikeouts. He had good command of his pitches.”
While his pitcher’s effort wasn’t surprising, the low-scoring affair had the young Bedford manager scratching his head.
“I didn’t think (the early runs would hold up),” Mills said. “I thought there’d be a much higher-scoring game and I thought we needed to get some more, but a win’s a win and we’ll take it.”
In an 87-pitch outing, Mills struck out six, walked a pair and allowed four Saints hits. In the second and sixth, he coaxed inning-ending double plays to preserve the shutout.
“My fielders really did it for me,” Downs said. “I’m not much of a strikeout pitcher so I just rely on my fielders to get it done for me and that’s how I go into every game.”
The Saints stranded four runners and only had three runners reach scoring position on the day.
“Dylan Downs, he pitched a real nice game,” St. Michael manager Matt Gramling said. “We had our opportunities. We kept getting guys on and just couldn’t get that base hit to score that first run and it might have started something, maybe a bit of an avalanche, but we just couldn’t get one to go through. They really played a sound defensive game.”
Bedford’s day at the plate slowed down considerably after the first, while the Hurricanes had baserunners in every inning but the second, key hits were hard to come by against Donoughe or reliever Dom Panick, who pitched a scoreless seventh.
Lucas Waugerman and Spencer McInroy drew walks off Donoughe in the first with Austin Montgomery’s fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop Gavin Oswalt leading to Waugerman scoring when Luke McCormick couldn’t corral the throw to second.
After Travis Hickey worked a walk to load the bases, Downs’ single to center chased in McInroy and Montgomery to push the Bedford advantage to three runs. Donoughe struck out Jon Gorman and popped up Braden Hengst to end the rally.
Donoughe fanned 10 and walked six while allowing the three runs on three hits.
“He really (kept us in it),” Gramling said. “It was a bad first inning. Three walks and an error and we gave them three runs and that was the difference in the game. He’s a mentally sound player and he knew once he got out of the first inning, he started making his pitches. He knew that we were going to play some defense behind him and he settled down real nice. It’s just unfortunate that they already had a lead and that we couldn’t cut into it.”
Game 2 is today at Bedford.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.