Sometimes teams can be sparked by a big offensive play.
Sometimes teams are sparked by a key play on defense. The latter proved to be true Sunday in Patton. The Redmen had a chance to break a scoreless tie in the third inning when they loaded the bases with two outs. However, Claysburg pitcher Austin McMonagle was up to the challenge, getting a ground out to end the inning and keep Patton off the scoreboard.
That play seemed to get Claysburg going. The guests scored four runs in the top of the fourth inning, igniting Claysburg’s 14-0 six inning victory, and a 2-0 series sweep of the Redmen in the Cambria Legion semifinals.
“Sometimes the opponent is just better than you,” said Patton manager Ray Eckenrode. “They were two very similar games. Both games in the series were good baseball games for four or four and a half innings. They just keep the pressure on you so much. You have situations where it goes from zero to 14 in 2 seconds flat. Give them credit, they made our pitchers throw strikes.”
After managing just a hit through the first two innings against McMonagle, Patton finally got stirring in the third inning. Adam Weiland drew a walk to start the inning, and moved to second on a single by Joe Olish. After back-to-back strikeouts, Tyler Crawford drew a walk to load the bases. However, Evan Waldron grounded out to third to end the inning.
McMonagle’s escape gave Claysburg momentum.
Mike Mock opened the fourth inning with a double to deep left field. After a groundout moved him to third, Patton’s Josh Prasko walked the next two batters to load the bases. He had the count in his favor against both batters, working his way to a 1-2 count on both batters, before issuing walks. On the second walk Prasko’s Ball 4 pitch got under Crawford’s glove and rolled to the screen allowing Mock to score for the game’s first run.
Prasko jumped out to an 0-2 count against Zach Slagenweit before dealing out another walk to load the bases again. Ethan Lewis followed with a single to drive in two more runs, pushing the lead to 3-0. After a flyout, Nick Hoesntine hit a ball that fell in front of a diving attempt by centerfielder Eric Ford to push the lead to 4-0. Olish struck out Jay Stern in relief to end the inning.
“Josh Prasko was pitching on short rest,” said Eckenrode. “I figured he had three innings in him and he had three good ones. He battled through that fourth, but once we started leaking a little oil there it was pretty quickly down hill.”
Claysburg added to its lead in the fifth. With two outs, Cameron Strayer turned another 1-2 count into a walk. After a Dakota Chamberlain single, Olish again jumped out to a 1-2 count on the next batter, but could not get the out to end the inning. He walked Strayer to load the bases. Lewis then hit a fly ball to shallow left-center that Weiland appeared ready to catch. However, his over the shoulder attempt came up short as the ball hit his glove and fell to the ground. The error cleared the bases, and pushed the lead to 7-0.
Claysburg added another run on a single to hold an 8-0 lead after five innings.
According to the club’s skipper, it was Claysburg’s willingness to wait out Patton pitchers that led to the avalanche of offense.
“That’s one thing we didn’t have at times this year,” said Claysburg manager Dave Aungst. “We had too many guys wanting to do too much. Today everybody was staying within themselves. In fact in both games, they stayed within themselves, taking the good pitches and not swinging at the bad stuff. That was definitely a key and something we have been preaching to them about is being more selective. We have good hitters, we have to get hitters’ pitches, and they have been doing that the last two days.”
The visitors finished off their series sweep by plating six more runs in the sixth inning.
Patton was held to only three hits in the game, two of which came off the bat of Crawford. Other than having the bases loaded in the third inning, the only other time the Redmen had more than one base runner in an inning was in the sixth inning.
With one out, Crawford tallied his second hit of the game with a single to center field. Waldron then reached on an error to give Patton runners on first and second. However, McMonagle retired the next two batters to secure the victory.
Sometimes teams can be sparked by a big offensive play.
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