EVERETT - Northern Bedford's reign as District 5 Class A baseball champion is over.
A failed suicide squeeze proved costly as the Black Panthers fell to Tussey Mountain, 4-2, in a D5-A semifinal Tuesday afternoon at the Everett Elementary School Complex.
The victory moved Tussey (16-3) into Thursday's championship game against Salisbury-Elk Lick at Shanksville. Northern, which had won five consecutive district titles, finished with a 15-6 mark.
The key moment in the game occured in Northern's top of the fourth inning. With Tussey leading 3-2, a walk to Alex Corle and a hit by Joel Suter, plus an errant throw back to the infield, gave the Panthers runners at second and third with no outs.
Northern missed a golden opportunity to at least tie the game, though.
After Tussey pitcher Elliott Chamberlain fanned Logan Fluke for the first out, Garrett England attempted to squeeze Corle home. However, he missed the bunt attempt, and Fluke was caught in a rundown for the second out. Chamberlain then fanned England for the third out and enabled Tussey to keep the lead.
"That [squeeze play] seemed to swing it," Tussey coach Rob Reed said. "Chamberlain has a lot of zip and is tough to get a bunt down on. And, we executed it perfectly. Everyone was where they were supposed to be."
Chamberlain said he was not expecting the squeeze.
"We got lucky and the kid missed it," Chamberlain said. "I threw a curveball and he went underneath it. We practice rundowns and squeezes a lot, and we were able to make the play.
"With second and third and no outs, I was shaky," Chamberlain admitted, "and that boosted my confidence."
NB coach David McIlnay agreed it was a big turning point in the game.
"You've got to come through with [the bunt]," McIlnay said. "It's tough, but we had it happen a couple times this year where we had a squeeze and scored the run.
"It just didn't happen this time."
Tussey took advantage of three Northern errors to score three runs and take an early 3-2 lead.
"We had a couple bad breaks early in the game, and they capitalized," McIlnay said. "But, that's what good teams do."
Chamberlain gave up single runs in the first and second innings, but buoyed by the missed squeeze, the Tussey ace faced only 13 batters [one over the minimum] the last four innings.
"I don't think Elliott had his best stuff," McIlnay said, "but he got tough when he had to. It's a shame we didn't put the ball in play at that time."
"[Chamberlain] settled in once he got through that," Reed said. "We've struggled as a team on this field, particularly in the playoffs. I don't know if that was in the back of our heads, but he struggled early. When he got past that, I think he was determined they weren't going to get anything.
"That's a senior. If he's not the top pitcher in the area, I don't know who is."
The Tussey coach didn't lose sight of the win, either.
"It was a big step for us," he said. "That's a good team over there. They've got a lot of history, and hopefully, we can keep it going Thursday."
"It feels good to finally get to the championship," Chamberlain added.
NORTHERN BEDFORD (2): J. Stern ss 300, M. Sollenberger cf 111, D. Sollenberger lf 301, Grace p-1b 300, Corle 3b 200, Suter rf 212, Fluke 1b-p 200, England dh 300, Furry c 000, I. Stern 2b 300. Totals - 22-2-4.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (4): P. Swope 2b 412, Chamberlain p 403, Corbin cr 010, DeLuga cf 301, J. Swope ss 200, Rickabaugh 1b 300, Shreder lf 100, Fields 3b 300, Brumbaugh 200, Husick cr 010, Runk rf 312. Totals -23-4-8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Northern Bedford110 000 0-2 4 3
Tussey Mountain120 010 X-4 8 1
E-J. Stern, Grace, Corle, Chamberlain. 2B-DeLuga. RBI-D. Sollenberger, I. Stern, Shreder. SF-Shreder. SB- M. Sollenberger, Suter 2, Fluke.
Northern Bedford: Grace (L)-5 IP 6 H 4R 1 ER 6 SO 3 BB; Fluke - 1 IP, 2 0 R, 0 ER, 1 SO, 0 BB.
Tussey Mountain: Chamberlain (W)-7 IP, 4 H, 2 R , 2 ER, 9 SO, 5 BB.
Records: Northern Bedford (15-6); Tussey Mountain (16-3).