The Altoona Curve Classic should consider changing its name to the Altoona Mountain Lion Classic.
For the third straight season and sixth time in 10 years, the Altoona High Mountain Lions are Classic champions. The Lions garnered their latest trophy Sunday with a 7-3 win over Hollidaysburg at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
"We're happy with the win because we want to keep going," Altoona coach Tom Smith said after watching the unbeaten Lions (6-0) sweep their way to the title over the weekend.
Mirror photo by Darian Somers
The Altoona baseball team, including Anthony Lombardo (15), celebrates its third straight Curve Classic title.
"Our kids are pumped up to come here [Curve Classic], and we seem to play pretty good ball. We need to get here for the District 6 finals," Smith said, laughing. "That's the main thing and what we're shooting for."
Junior right-hander Ben Wyland was tough on the mound, limiting the Golden Tigers to just three singles while striking out eight and walking none. Wyland also had an RBI-single when the Lions scored twice in the first inning.
"It was good because we haven't been doing that," Smith said of Altoona's quick start. "We've had to come from behind most of our games."
The performance capped an outstanding tournament for Wyland, who was named the most valuable player. Besides nothing the pitching win Sunday, Wyland, who played third base in the first two victories, went 4-for-9 at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored.
"[Wyland's] been solid for us all year," Smith said, "and he was solid again today. He's been hitting well and, pitching wise, he's been our go-to guy."
"All the hard work we've been doing in practice paid off," Wyland said. "We never gave up and were very solid on the field most of the time."
Wyland said he had "good command" while dominating the Tigers. He said he had good off-speed pitches that complemented his fastball.
"It feels great," he said of the MVP award. "I was definitely not expecting it but I'm very happy with it."
Altoona senior shortstop Christian Helsel is 3-for-3 in the Classic, with three championships in three years.
"It's our third year in a row," said Helsel, who had a hit, two walks and scored twice yesterday. "It's always an awesome tournament to play in for everybody, and fun to win."
Helsel, who has signed with Ole Miss, gave a lot of credit to Wyland.
"Benny's been great all year," Helsel said. "Last week, against State College [Wyland pitched an 8-1 win] ... he's keeping the ball low and getting first-pitch strikes and we couldn't ask for anything more out of Benny."
Wyland also impressed Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal.
"It's tough," Szynal said of Altoona's fast start, "and, against a good pitcher like Benny Wyland, it's tough to overcome a couple run lead.
"We had a good weekend, though," Szynal said. "We knew this game would be tough. [Altoona] has a really nice team, and there's a reason they're undefeated.
"We'll just move on."
HOLLIDAYSBURG (3): Claar cf 210, Burger 3b 200, E. Miller 3b 100, Sell p 000, McCall p 000, Hileman dh 301, Baum ss 200, Urban ph 100, Crum lf 201, Russell 100, Gallagher rf 300, Ford 1b 311, Storm 2b 200, Glass 2b 100, R. Miller c 100, Yon c 100, Scallen cr 010. Totals - 25-3-3.
ALTOONA (7): Oswalt cf 412, Green lf 400, Helsel ss 221, Lombardo c 301, Berardinelli cr-ph 110, Wyland p 301, Negri cr 010, Foose 3b 000, Chesney dh 301, Douglas ph 100, Sinisi 2b 301, Baker 1b 211, Stayer lf 110. Totals - 27-7-8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Hollidaysburg000 012 0-3 3 4
Altoona200 500 x-7 8 4
E-Sell, Baum, Gallagher, Ford, Helsel 2, Wyland, Baker. RBI-Oswalt, Lombardo, Wyland, Chesney, Sinisi, Hileman, Urban. SAC - Stayer 2, HPB-Claar.
Hollidaysburg: Sell (L)-3 2/3 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO; McCall 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, O ER, 2 BB, 0 SO.
Altoona: Wyland (W)-7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO.
Umpires: Dave Adams (plate), Bob Buck (bases).
Records: Hollidaysburg (3-4), Altoona (6-0).