After scoring two runs in the first inning against Indiana in the opener, and six to start off its semifinal victory over Claysburg-Kimmel, the Hollidaysburg baseball team had made good use of its early-inning opportunities at the 11th annual Curve Classic.
That continued on Sunday, as the Golden Tigers scored all four of their runs in the first frame, paving the way to their first Curve Classic title since 2005, defeating Bellwood-Antis, 4-2, at People's Natural Gas Field.
"We scored first inning runs in every game [of the tournament]," Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal said. "Baseball can be a weird game. You score more in one inning than the other team does in the whole game and it was enough to [win the game]."
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Bellwood-Antis’ Zach Mock gets out of the way of a double play finished off by the Tigers’ Trent Sipes.
After Tanner Claar led off the Hollidaysburg first with a single, Bellwood starter Danny Beech walked Trent Sipes and Brett Hileman to load the bases.
With one out, Eric Miller walked to bring in the first run of the game. Jordan McCall then grounded out to plate the second run, before Luke Glass singled in Hileman and Miller to finish the Golden Tiger scoring.
"It was unfortunate," Bellwood-Antis coach Steve Conlon said of his team's early deficit. "[Beech] wasn't able to zone in and throw strikes."
Beech was pulled after the first, while Steffan Wyland came in to throw the last five innings, allowing no runs while scattering six hits.
"[Wyland] came in and threw outstanding," Conlon said. "He threw strikes, which was key, and the defense behind him was great. It kept us in the game at the end."
Four runs of support would be all that Hollidaysburg southpaw Andy Crum would need, as he threw five innings, allowing one run on just four hits.
"[Crum] threw all his pitches for strikes," Szynal said. "He got ahead of hitters and looked strong. I couldn't ask for much better for his first outing [of the season]."
The Blue Devils were able to get to Crum with two outs in the fifth inning. After leadoff hitter Haden DeGennaro drew a walk and stole second, sophomore Chad Luensmann singled to left field to drive him in.
"[Crum] mixed his pitches well," Conlon said. "He threw a lot of strikes and they made the plays behind him on defense which kept our guys off of the bases. We didn't put much pressure on him."
Crum was pulled after Beech tripled to deep right to start the Bellwood sixth. The Golden Tigers brought in Hileman, who struck out Bryan Lynn before catcher Trenton Creppage singled in Beech to close the scoring.
Hileman, who was named tournament MVP, used two strikeouts and a groundout in the seventh to give Hollidayburg the win and the Curve Classic title.
"It's nice to win the tournament," Szynal said. "We're pleased to get out and play on a beautiful ball field, so to win it is an added bonus."
While Bellwood was on the losing end, Conlon was pleased with the effort his team gave against the likes of the local AAAA teams in the tournament.
"If we can carry that same confidence we had playing [Altoona and Hollidaysburg] the rest of the way, we will win a lot of games this year," Conlon said.
The Golden Tigers don't get much of a break, as they head to Punxsutawney on Monday, while Bellwood will travel to Mount Union on Tuesday.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (2): DeGennaro cf 311, Luensmann 1b 201, Gray ss, 301, Beech p-rf 311, Lynn rf-lf 300, Creppage c 301, Snyder 2b 300, Hunter 3b 300, Wyland lf-p 300, Mock cr 000. Totals - 26-2-5
HOLLIDAYSBURG (4): Claar cf 412, Sipes 2b-ss 211, Hileman ss-p 311, Crum p-1b, Miller 1b-3b 211, McCall 3b 300, Glass dh 301, Sell rf 300, Russell lf 301, Fluke cr 000. Totals - 26-4-8
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bellwood-Antis 000 011 0-2 5 0
Hollidaysburg 400 000 X- 4 8 1
E- McCall. 2b-Hileman. 3b-Beech. RBI-Glass 2, Miller, McCall, Luensmann, Creppage. WP-Crum. LP-Beech. SO- Crum 3, Hileman 3, Beech 2, Wyland. BB- Crum 2, Beech 3, Wyland.
Records: Bellwood-Antis (3-1); Hollidaysburg (3-0).