The key to beating Corey Barr is getting to him early.
Sometimes even that isn't enough.
With the help of two errors, Altoona plated four first-inning runs against Hollidaysburg's senior left-hander. However, Barr took control from there, silencing the Altoona bats and sending the Golden Tigers to an 8-5 win in the finals of the 14th annual Ron Fiochetta High School Baseball Tournament amid intermittent showers at Veterans Memorial Field on Saturday afternoon.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Hollidaysburg’s Joe Glass collects a high-five from Aaron Burger after scoring on a Corey Barr single at Vets Field on Saturday.
"They got their tournament, so we wanted to get one, as well. The whole team was pretty excited, and they all picked me up with the bats,'' Barr, who also drove in two runs, said. "I'm really proud of the whole team.''
Barr, who didn't make it out of the third inning when Hollidaysburg lost to Altoona, 14-6, in the championship game of the Altoona Curve Classic earlier this season, didn't need a whole lot of help from his offense this time. From the end of the first inning through the beginning of the seventh, he set down 17 of 21 Mountain Lion hitters. One of those that reached base was eliminated on a double play.
"I just started to loosen up. My arm started to feel better. I was getting good strikes on the corners, and the ball was moving pretty well,'' Barr said. "The first inning, I was leaving it down the middle. But I started hitting spots, and it worked out well.''
Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal has seen Barr get into a groove before - like a few weeks ago when he held Mount Union to one run. Szynal showed his confidence by starting to play for one run in the third inning.
"When he's throwing strikes, his ball moves enough that it's tough to hit it,'' Szynal said.
Hollidaysburg scored four times in the top of the first, but Altoona answered to tie it in the bottom of the inning, keyed by Matt McDonald's three-run double to center and helped by two errors.
"We did nothing the rest of the game. It's very frustrating,'' Altoona coach Tom Smith said.
Smith countered Barr with sophomore right-hander Ben Wyland. Wyland pitched well, for the most part, spacing seven hits over 5 innings.
"He gave us a chance to win the ball game,'' Smith said. "We're just looking for pitchers. He threw two innings for us last week at the varsity level and did a good job, so we figured he could give us a few innings, and he did.''
Hollidaysburg went ahead to stay in the third inning when Joe Glass singled, was sacrificed to second and scored on Barr's single to left. Another sac bunt put Ian Ford in scoring position in the sixth to garner an insurance run on Brett Hileman's single, and two Altoona errors in the seventh paved the way for two more Tiger tallies.
Altoona plated one run in the seventh and got the tying run to the plate, but Barr fanned Tyson Steele for his sixth strikeout in the last five innings to end the game.
Sznyal was excited to win the tournament, which pushed the Tigers record to 9-5 and gave them their second straight win over Altoona since dropping the Curve Classic final.
"This tournament doesn't get the hype of the Curve tournament, but, playing in the Ron Fiochetta Tournament, especially in my and Coach [Chad] Swogger's eyes, since we played for him and I coached for Ron, it's very important,'' Szynal said. "I know Ron was looking over this game. He wanted to see a good baseball game, and he saw a good baseball game.''
Altoona dipped to 7-5 after opening the season 4-0.
"We were expecting to be a little more consistent. Our biggest problem right now is we're not very consistent. We just don't know what we're going to get from game to game,'' Smith said. "With the roster we have and the guys we had coming back, we didn't expect it to be this way.''
In the consolation game, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic squandered a two-run seventh inning lead but pulled it out in the bottom of the eighth when Jextin Pugh doubled in Jared Keller with no one out.
Pugh was 4-for-5 and also had a triple and another RBI. Tyler Adams and T.J. Krol had two hits apiece for the Marauders, with Krol knocking in two runs.
West Branch's Ronnie Gurbal went 3-for-4, while Don Sanker had two hits and two RBIs.
Game notes: Hollidaysburg starting catcher Damian Lascoli was unavailable because of a suspension, Szynal said. ... Both teams had eight hits. Hileman and Jordan Baum had two singles apiece for the Tigers. Cody Henderson had two hits and two RBIs, and Christian Helsel had a double and a single for Altoona. ... Barr benefitted from several good defensive plays, including Nate Pope's over-the-shoulder catch in deep left to rob Tyson Steele of extra bases in the first inning. ... Altoona, which has four games this week, returns to action Tuesday when State College comes to Mansion Park. ... Hollidaysburg plays on the road three straight days beginning with a game against Somerset on Wednesday.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (8): Hileman ss 512, Scallen rf 310, Pope lf 311, Gallagher cf 000, Glass dh 411, Nichols c 200, Barton cr 010, Barr p 301, Sell cr 010, Burger 3b 210, Ford 1b 311, Baum 2b 302. Totals - 28-8-8.
ALTOONA (5): Helsel dh 422, Wyland p 000, Douglas p 000, Henderson 2b 412, Lombardo c 401, Koch cr 000, Steele cf 401, Sneed 1b 210, Bush lf 210, McDonald rf 301, Frederick ss 300, Clancy 3b 301. Totals -29-5-8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Hollidaysburg401 001 2-8 8 2
Altoona400 000 1-5 8 5
E-Clancy, Gallagher, Hileman, Henderson, Frederick, Douglas, Lombardo. DP-Hollidaysburg. LOB-Hollidaysburg 11, Altoona 5. 2B-Pope, Helsel, McDonald, Baum. RBI-Pope, Glass, Barr 2, Burger, Henderson 2, McDonald 3, Hileman, Baum. SF-Burger. SAC--Nichols, Baum, Burger. SB-Hileman 2, Barr, Burger. CS-Scallen.
Hollidaysburg: Barr (W)-7 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO.
Altoona: Wyland (L)-5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO; Douglas-1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 S0.
HBP-By Wyland (Nichols). WP-Wyland 2, Barr 2.
Records: Hollidaysburg (9-5); Altoona (7-5).
Umpires: Bill Johnson (plate), Larry Stitt (bases).
WEST BRANCH (8): Baugh 2b 500, Reese c 312, Corl ss 401, Speigle 3b-p 401, Lidgett p-cf 412, Gurbal 1b 423, Hubler lf 420, Sanker cf-rf 312, Gower 3b 200, Emigh rf-p-rf 411. Totals - 35-8-12.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE CATHOLIC (9): Keller ss 320, Adams cf 422, Pugh 1b 524, Beard 3b 211, Hoover p 311, Krol c 402, Irwin rf 100, Rossman rf 101, Nardelli lf 300, Sweeney lf 100, Stewart 2b 200, Drenning 2b 110. Totals -30-9-11.
SCORE BY INNINGS
West Branch000 021 50-8 12 5
Bishop Guilfoyle200 021 31-9 11 5
E-Corl, Speigle, Lidgett, Gower 2, Keller, Adams, Krol, Nardelli, Drenning. 2B-Lidgett, Pugh. 3B-Pugh. RBI-Reese, Lidgett, Sanker 2, Emigh 2, Keller, Pugh 2, Beard, Hoover 2, Krol 2.
Records: West Branch (7-5); Bishop Guilfoyle (5-8).