JOHNSTOWN - Involved in what Juniata Valley baseball coach Bill Peters knew would be a tight game in Monday's District 6-A quarterfinal with Conemaugh Valley, the Hornets were aware that they must take advantage of each scoring opportunity they were presented with.
Juniata Valley failed to do so, leaving eight runners on base, including five combined in the first two innings, as it was shut out, 3-0, by Conemaugh Valley at Franklin Field.
"What hurt us was letting guys on base," Peters said. "We let the bases loaded in the first inning and then two on in the second and just couldn't score runs when we had a chance."
In the top of the first inning, Juniata Valley first baseman Shawn Houck was up with two outs and the bases loaded. Houck drove the first pitch he saw to shallow center field, where Conemaugh Valley center fielder Patrick Callahan ran and made a successful diving attempt to rob Houck and end the inning.
After leadoff hitter Kordell Collins walked to start the fifth inning, senior left-handed hitter Wyatt Belinda roped the ball to deep right-center field, where Callahan again raced over and made another outstanding defensive play to get the out.
Collins, who appeared surprised at Callahan's speed to track down the ball, was already past second and on his way to third base. On his way back to first, Collins did not re-touch second base, which was later tagged by Conemaugh Valley to complete the double play.
"The first [catch by Callahan] was really impressive," Peters said. "And the latter one in the fifth I believe was the turning point in the game."
"They were game-changers," Conemaugh Valley coach Bob Beiter said of his center fielder's two catches. "Two runs would have scored easily if he didn't dive and make the catch in the first inning, and the Belinda ball in the fifth would have got things going for them. They were two clutch plays."
Conemaugh Valley got on the board in the bottom of the second inning. With two outs, Hornets pitcher Tanner Perow gave up two walks and a single to load the bases, before walking leadoff hitter Adam Barnouski to bring in the run.
"Tanner usually has better control," Peters said. "He just lost it for a few minutes there in the second inning and they took advantage."
The Blue Jays added two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when catcher Vinco Vibostok singled in designated hitter Corey Kalinyak and Blake Furman.
Juniata Valley was limited to four hits by pitcher Chris Horten, who threw a complete game while striking out six batters.
"He threw very well," Peters said. "He had good control with his curveball and did a good job. We couldn't get a base hit and didn't produce when we needed to."
"We have faith in him," Beiter said. "He's been one of our top pitchers the last couple year and once he was able to settle in he did a great job."
Juniata Valley's year comes to an end, as it loses eight seniors, each of whom appeared in Monday's starting lineup and have been key contributors to the program.
"We're losing eight seniors," Peters said. "It's been a great run and I'm sorry that we couldn't go any further. I am proud of what we have accomplished and we have nothing to be ashamed of."
JUNIATA VALLEY (0): Collins 2b 200, Belinda ss 400, Norris 3b 301, Johnson lf-1b 300, Singer c 100, Houck 1b 302, McMullen pr-lf 000, Perow p 300, Claar rf 000, Greene dh 200, Low cf 301, Barton pr 000, Beam pr 000, Faubert cr 000. Totals-24-0-4.
CONEMAUGH VALLEY (3): Barnouski ss 200, Verno lf 200, Callahan cr 301, Horten p 301, S. Vibostok rf 000, Kalinyak dh 311, Furman 2b 311, Riehl 1b 211, V. Vibostok c 302, Gill 3b 200. Totals-23-3-7.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Juniata Valley000 000 0 - 0 4 1
Conemaugh Valley010 002 X- 3 7 1
LOB-Juniata Valley 8, Conemaugh Valley 8. E-Norris, Gill. RBI-V. Vibostok 2, Barnouski. SB-Horten, Furman. CS-Riehl, V. Vibostok. SAC-Collins. DP-Juniata Valley 1, Conemaugh Valley 1.
Juniata Valley: Perow (L)-6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO.
Conemaugh Valley: Horten (W)-7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO.
Records: Juniata Valley (10-7); Conemaugh Valley (16-4).