PHILIPSBURG - After taking a 5-0 lead in the first inning against Ligonier Valley on Monday, the Philipsburg-Osceola baseball team escaped a late rally by the Rams to take the 8-6 victory.
Ligonier Valley scored six runs over the final three innings of the game, including a three-run seventh, where it left runners on the corners as the Mounties recorded the final out.
"It's baseball," Philipsburg-Osceola manager Doug Sankey said. "Once you aren't successful a couple of times through the order, they get some confidence and they got a couple of runs.
"We let them in there with that double-play ball there we booted [in the fifth inning]."
Things looked good early on for the Mounties, who didn't even have to swing at any pitches by Rams' starter Billy Elliot.
Elliot walked seven of the first eight batters he faced, giving Philipsburg-Osceola a 5-0 advantage. Elliot threw 46 pitches in the first frame before recording the final out as the Mounties lineup batted around.
"That's been our thing all year," Sankey said. "We have had a lot of walks all year. We have been preaching to our guys to have three or four pitches per at bat. They've done a nice job with it all year.
"Their pitcher was throwing well. He just couldn't locate early."
P-O widened its lead to 7-0, scoring two more runs in the third inning.
Mark Curtis reached on an error before Matt Kephart drew a two-out walk. Ligonier Valley catcher Adam Torrence attempted to catch Kephart off first, but the ball sailed into right field, and Curtis was able to easily score from second.
Kephart later scored on an RBI single from Mike Marcinko, putting the Mounties up 7-0.
But the Rams didn't go quietly, as they scored three unearned runs in the fifth inning off P-O starter Parker Watson.
The Mounties scored an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, as Watson brought home Andrew Greenawalt on a fielder's choice to increase the lead to 8-3.
Ligonier Valley continued the rally in the top of the seventh, as Anthony Tutino doubled to start the inning. Ryan Torrence then singled him home to cut the score to 8-4.
After another double by Yeskey, Watson was relieved by Cody Lee, who got the first out of the inning with a grounder to second. A run scored on the play.
A sacrifice fly by Matt Ryan scored Yeskey, cutting the advantage to 8-6. But Lee struck out the next batter swinging to set the final.
"Parker has been one of the best pitchers I've had in 15 years," said Sankey. "He really has. If there is one negative, it's that he gets too excited. He gets amped up.
"I think because of that, he is maxing out almost every pitch. Plus, because of the back injury, it's hard for him to stay loose. If you aren't bending, you aren't in the zone. And he was up pretty much the last two innings.
"Lee is the opposite of Parker. He has no emotion. It's just a flat line. He's the guy you want there in the end."
The Mounties had just five hits on the day. Watson knocked in two runs without a hit, while Greenawalt and Mark Curtis each scored twice.
P-O improved to 18-4 overall. The Mounties will face Mount Union in the Class AA title game on Friday evening at 7 at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Ligonier Valley (6): Taggert cf 4110, Tutino ss 4210, R. Torrence lf 4121, Yeskey 1b-p 4132, Ritenour rf 3011, A. Torrence c 4020, Bloom 3b 3000, Markowsky pr 0000, Ryan 2b 3011, Elliot p 0000, Jones 1b 0000, Nemeth dh 3100. Totals: 40-6-11-4.
Philipsburg-Osceola (8): Marcinko ss 3111, Smith c 1100, Greenawalt rf 2210, Lee dh 4000, Belko 1b 0000, Curtis 2b 3211, Watson p-1b 3102, Carpin lf 3001, Kephart 3b 1111, Walstorm cf 3010. Totals: 23-8-5-6.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Ligonier Valley000 030 3-6 11 4
Philipsburg-Osceola502 001 x-8 5 2
E-A. Torrence, R. Torrence, Bloom, Yeskey; Marcinko, Greenawalt. LOB-Ligonier Valley 9, Philipsburg-Osceola 8. DP-Ligonier Valley. 2B-Tutino, Yeskey. RBI-R. Torrence, Yeskey 2, Ritenour, Ryan, Marcinko, Curtis, Watson 2, Carpin, Kephart. SF-Ryan. SB-Marcinko, Curtis.
Ligonier Valley: Elliot-5+ IP, 4 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 11 BB, 4 SO; Yeskey-1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.
Philipsburg-Osceola: Watson-6+ IP, 10 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO; Lee-1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO.
WP-Watson (5-2). LP-Elliot.