Even though his Altoona Mountain Lions were leading 6-0 after four-and-a-half innings en route to a 14-5 win in Friday's Ron Fiochetta Tournament semifinal matchup with Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic at Vets Field, Altoona coach Tom Smith didn't feel comfortable.
"I kid you not," Smith said. "This is my 10th year [as Altoona coach] and I tell our kids ever year that we jump out 4 or 5-0 and, in the fifth or sixth inning, they [Guilfoyle] come back to make it a game.
"It happens every year."
This year was no different, either. Altoona starter Craig McCloskey yielded only one hit in the first four innings and retired two of the first three batters in the fifth before "he hit a brick wall," Smith said.
"It's a rivalry game, we had a 6-0 lead, but we walked the eighth and ninth batters," Smith said, shaking his head, "and the next thing you know it's 6-5."
Smith pulled McCloskey in favor of Matt McDonald, but Jextin Pugh greeted McDonald with a two-run single and BG was trailing by only one run.
"To our credit, we came right back with a bunch of runs," Smith said. "Unfortunately for them, they had a bunch of errors and we were able to take advantage of some things."
Altoona sent 12 men to the plate in the top of the sixth and scored seven runs on just three hits. The Lions (7-4) benefitted from six walks and a couple of errors and got a big two-run double from McDonald.
"That's the game," BG coach Bill Wolf said when reminded the Marauders (4-8) committed five errors and walked eight batters overall. "It's been our story all year.
"We're like our own worst enemy."
Wolf was happy, however, that the Marauders rallied from a 6-0 deficit and pulled to within 6-5 in the fifth inning.
"We're young, real young," Wolf said, noting that BG's lineup includes several underclassmen. "We struggle hitting because we're so young, but, when we do get in the game, we walk a couple of guys, boot a couple balls and the next thing you know we're back down four or five runs again.
"It's like we're fighting an uphill battle all the time."
Game notes: Anthony Lombardo and Nate Clancy each had three hits for the Lions while Cody Henderson collected two. ... Pugh had two of BG's three safeties. ... Altoona will face Hollidaysburg, a 13-1 winner over West Branch, in today's championship game at 2 p.m. ... The Lions beat the Tigers, 14-6, in the Curve Classic and the Tigers won the regular-season match, 13-9. ... BG and West Branch play in the consolation game at 11 a.m. ... The tournament is named after former local baseball icon Ron Fiochetta, who passed away in 1997. Fio's widow, Joy, and three of her grandchildren threw out ceremonial first pitches.
ALTOONA (14): Helsel dh 310, Sinisi 2b 000, Henderson ss 412, Lombardo rf 423, Oswald rf 000, Steele cf 400, Koch cr-cf 020, Sneed 1b 121, Douglas ph 111, Bush lf 331, Arnold ph 000, Clancy 3b 413, Bettwy 3b 101, McCloskey p 300, McDonald p 111, Watson c 300, Green ph 100. Totals - 33-14-13.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (5): Keller ss 310, Adams cf 310, Pugh p-1b 302, Sanders 1b-p 300, Beard 3b 301, Hoover rf 310, Krol c 300, Sweeney c 000, Irwin 2b 110, Steward 2b 100, Nardelli rf 110. Totals -24-5-3.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Altoona021 217 1-14 13 2
Bishop Guilfoyle000 050 0- 5 3 5
E-Henderson, Sneed, Irwin 3, Pugh, Sanders. 2B-Pugh, Bush, McDonald. RBI-Henderson 2, Lombardo, Sneed, Bush 2, McDonald 3, Watson, Pugh 2, Adams. WP-McDonald. LP-Pugh. SO-McCloskey 2, McDonald 3, Pugh 5, Sanders 1. BB-McCloskey 3, McDonald 1, Pugh 1, Sanders 7. Umpires: Joe Thompson (plate), Gene Decker (bases).
Records: Altoona (7-4); Bishop Guilfoyle (4-8).
Nathan Pope and Jeremy Budd combined for a one-hit shutout to lead Hollidaysburg in a blowout victory over West Branch in five innings at Vets Field.
Aaron Burger went 3-for-3 at the plate, and Dane Scallen brought in four runs for the Golden Tigers.
WEST BRANCH (1): Baugh 2b 300, Rees c 311, Corl p 200, Speigle ss 200, Lidgett cf 200, Gurbal 1b 200, Hubler lf 200, Gower 3b 100, Emigh rf 200. Totals - 19 1 1.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (13): Hileman ss 432, Scallen rf 412, Pope p 402, Baum cr 010, Gallagher cf 000, Glass dh 302, Nichols c 301, Barton cr 000, Barr lf 310, Storm 2b 221, Burger 3b 333, Ford 1b 321, Budd p 000. Totals -29 13 14.
SCORE BY INNINGS
West Branch001 00X X- 1 1 3
Hollidaysburg244 3XX X-13 14 3
E-Corl, Gurbal, Gower; Hileman, Storm, Burger. 2B-Scallen, Storm, Burger. 3B-Hileman. RBI-Hileman 2, Scallen 4, Pope 2, Glass, 2, Nichols, Ford 2. WP-Pope. LP-Corl. SO-Corl 2; Pope 8. BB-Corl; Pope.
Records: West Branch (7-4); Hollidaysburg (8-5).