BELLWOOD - Altoona defeated Schuylkill North Friday, 5-3, in the first round of the 15-16 VFW State Teener League Championship at Drost Field.
Altoona hit the ball well for the first two innings. It had four of its game total six hits in those innings. The next few innings, Altoona's bats were silenced by Schuylkill pitcher Austin Hornberger, who would sit down Altoona's batters in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
"We went on a hitting slump," Altoona Manager Gary Ferguson said. "We got to start hitting more; If we don't, we'll be out of the tournament. We scored three runs in one inning. Their pitcher shut us down in three [innings]."
Altoona jumped on the board early. In the second inning, Ryan Steinbugl hit a one-out double to left field. He scored on a wild pitch during Greg Hughes' at-bat. Chris Sinisi and Hughes were both walked. Leadoff hitter Cody Henderson drove in Sinisi and Hughes with a double to left.
Altoona pitcher Tyler Ferguson struck out four batters and only allowed four hits in four innings of work. Reliever Craig McCloskey came into the game in the fifth. He would allow five hits in three innings.
"Our pitching was good," Ferguson said of his son and McCloskey. "The balls they [Schuylkill North] hit, they stung them."
In the top of the sixth with Altoona leading, 4-3, Andrew Wombacher led the inning off with a triple. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Lombardo. In the bottom half of the inning, Schuylkill made things interesting. Zack Weist led the inning off with a double to right field, and then Weist reached third on a wild pitch. But, that was all the closer he got as Altoona got three quick outs on a McCloskey strikeout and two groundballs.
Altoona gave itself a comfortable two-run lead in the seventh. Killian Steinbugl led the inning off with a single to center field. Killian's brother, Ryan, put down a bunt single, and Killian advanced to second and then to third on an overthrow to first base. Killian scored on a fielder's choice.
Schuylkill once again made things interesting. Schuylkill's Charlie Hutnick hit a single to right field and moved to second on a fielder's choice. Nick Malloy hit a single to left field, and Hutnick advanced to third. McCloskey, however, struck out the next batter for the final out.
Altoona advanced to the second round, where it will play Huntingdon 12:30 p.m. today at Drost Field.
The other second-round matchup is Mount Union playing Punxsutawney at 3 p.m. The winners of the Altoona-Huntingdon game and the Mount Union-Punxsutawney game will face off in the semifinal round 10 a.m. Sunday at Drost. In the loser's bracket, Bellwood will play Schuylkill East at 11 a.m. today. Lebanon Valley will play Schuylkill North at 10 a.m. today in the other game of the loser's bracket.
ALTOONA (5): Henderson ss 401, Wombacher 1b 312, Lombardo 301, Sneed 3b 300, Quinton eh 200, K. Steinbugl rf 311, R. Steinbugl lf 311, Sinisi 2b 310, Hughes cf 310, Ferguson p 200, Fox eh 100, McCloskey 100. Totals-31-5-6.
SCHUYLKILL NORTH (3): Anthony ss 411, Hornberger p 400, Hutnick cf 402, Holman 3b 000, Domboski dh-1b 400, Malloy 1b 411, Weist c 412, Rakowsky 2b 201, Petrovich rf 201, Wiley lf 201, Kaufman 2b 100, Miller rf 100, Klinger lf 100. Totals-33-3-9.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Altoona030 001 1-5 6 0
Schuylkill North000 210 0-3 9 1
E-Holman. 2B-Henderson, K. Steinbugl, R. Steinbugl, Weist. 3B-Wombacher. RBI-Petrovich, Henderson 2, Lombardo, Hughes. WP-Ferguson. LP-Hornberger. SO-Ferguson 4, McCloskey 2, Hornberger 5. BB-Ferguson 4, McCloskey.
Records: Altoona (1-0); Schuylkill North (0-1).