Red Bull had the right combination Saturday and cruised into the championship finals of the Altoona AAABA League's playoffs.
Top seed Red Bull used 16 hits and Seth Wagner's dominant pitching to post a 12-0, five-inning victory over Ketrow Insurance at Juniata Field.
Red Bull will face Nittany Oil/Minit Mart in the best-of-three finals, beginning today at 5:30 p.m. at Juniata, with the winner hosting the AAABA Altoona Regional Tournament next weekend. Nittany Oil/Minit Mart, the No. 2 seed, swept its semifinal set with Johnston Realty.
Red Bull got hits from 11 different players with Nathan Pope, Matt Kurelja, Jordan DeLuca, Darian Herncane and Matt Fry collecting two each. Jextin Pugh contributed a homer and the winners also banged out five doubles.
"It's really nice when you can get out to a 3-0 lead [in the first inning]," Red Bull manager Jeff Miller said. "That's what every pitcher wants."
Jake Stern's two-run double and Jordan Deluca's single gave Red Bull a 3-0 lead in the top of the first and the club scored five times in the third when DeLuca, Shane Regel and Matt Fry all doubled.
"We were swinging the bats well, hitting balls hard," Miller said. "We hit some gaps that allowed runners to score. We're excited about getting to the finals with a chance to go back to Johnstown [for the AAABA National Tournament]."
So is Wagner, who noted: "I've never been there and I want to get the opportunity."
A lanky lefty, who will be a senior at Mifflin County High School in the fall, Wagner was the benefactor of Red Bull's bullish offense.
"I'm a lot more comfortable when I have a lead," Wagner admitted. "I'm a lot more relaxed."
Wagner, usually clocked in the mid to high 80s, pitched four scoreless innings yesterday, giving up two hits while striking out seven and walking two.
"I just needed to throw strikes because we have a good defense," he said. "If they hit it, I knew we'd make the plays."
Ketrow, meanwhile, couldn't climb out of the early hole.
"They have a lot of good hitters," Ketrow manager Keith Walters said of Red Bull. "They hit the ball and we didn't. Plus, we had a few costly errors early.
"That's a good ball team," Walters added. "It should be a good [championship] series."
Red Bull won both matchups with Nittany Oil/Minit-Mart during the regular season
"That doesn't matter," Miller said. "It's a new season, a new series, and it should be fun."
RED BULL (12): Carothers ss 411, Pope cf 422, Hileman 3b 210, Appleby 3b 111, Stern dh 211, Pugh dh 211, Wagner p 000, Bivens p 000, Kurelja 1b 312, DeLuca rf 212, Negri lf 201, Herncane lf 212, D. Fry rf 100, Regel c 411, M. Fry 2b 312. Totals - 32-12-16.
KETROW INSURANCE (0): Hamilton ss 300, Osterhout rf 200, Lassak cf 201, Walters c 101, Eckenrode p-3b 100, Walter 3b-lf 200, Vinglish lf 100, Morder p 100, Fuller 1b 100, Steele 1b 100, Keller 2b 100, Itle 2b 100. Totals - 17-0-2.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Red Bull305 13X X-12 16 0
Ketrow Insurance000 00X X - 0 2 2
E-Lassak, Walters. 2B-Lassak, Pope, Stern, DeLuca, Regel, M. Fry. HR-Pugh. RBI-Carothers, Stern 2, Pugh, Kurelja 2, DeLuca, Herncane, D. Fry, Regel, M. Fry WP-Wagner. LP-Eckenrode. SO-Wagner 7, Bivens 1, Morder 2. BB-Wagner 2, Eckenrode 2, Morder 1.
Umpires: Bill Vigne, Larry Stitt, Eugene Parker.
Series: Red Bull wins, 2-0.