Just over a year ago, the Hollidaysburg baseball team was celebrating a district championship win over Somerset behind a dominant pitching performance as Dom Viduya out-dueled Somerset hard-throwing pitcher Ian Stiffler at People's Natural Gas Field.
Viduya and Stiffler found themselves head-to-head once again in Thursday's District 6 Class AAA championship game. The Golden Tiger lefty was strong once again, as he threw seven and one-third innings and allowed just three hits. Unfortunately for Hollidaysburg, it wasn't able to produce any offense as it lost a defensive game in nine innings, 1-0.
"He has done that all year and his whole career at Hollidaysburg," Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal said of Viduya's performance. "When we're in tight games, he's the guy we want out there. He gave us everything he had and kept us right there. It just didn't work out for us."
The Tigers’ Corey?Sell is consoled by his father, Tom, following the loss to Somerset in the finals.
Hollidaysburg's offense missed out on numerous opportunities throughout the game. It left the bases loaded in the top of the first inning and left runners stranded at second and third base in the second inning.
Trent Sipes and Eric Miller singled in the first before Reid Miller walked to load the bases. Stiffler got out of the jam by striking out Jordan McCall to end the inning. Stiffler struck out eight Golden Tigers in his seven innings. While his fastball reaches the low 90s, all of his strikeouts came on offspeed pitches.
Sipes led off the third inning with another single, as he finished with three of Hollidaysburg's seven hits. Brian Urban sacrificed Sipes to second, before he moved over to third on a wild pitch with just one out. Andy Crum walked and stole second, but Stiffler was one again able to get out of the inning unharmed.
"He didn't have great control," Somerset coach Steve Costea said of Stiffler's start. "He threw a lot of pitches, but he gutted it up and did everything we needed him to do. When they put it in play, we got the outs we needed and kept them off the board."
The Golden Tigers scattered six baserunners through the final six frames.
"Obviously we left eight guys in scoring position throughout the game," Szynal said. "In a tight game like this you hope that you can bring one or two in, but we weren't able to do it today. Credit their pitchers and defense, they made the plays when they had to."
Crum came in relief of Viduya in the eighth inning with one out and a runner on second base. He was able to get out of the inning after striking out Jacob Nickelson and Tanner Stull.
Somerset second baseman Ross Dirienzo and third baseman Drew Hemminger hit back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the ninth. The runners moved to second and third with one out after cleanup hitter Brent Barron grounded out to third base. Crum intentionally walked Michael Flyte to load the bases. After Crum threw three straight balls to Alex Dirienzo, the Somerset shortstop singled up the middle to score his brother, Ross, and clinch the district title.
"We have been in big games before," Costea said. "Szynal does a great job at Hollidaysburg and it seems like every time we play it is a great, competitive game. We just got the hit when we needed to."
Hollidaysburg's season comes to an end, while Somerset will move on to the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
The Golden Tigers will graduate six seniors from their roster, including Viduya.
"We're losing [injured] Tanner Claar and five other seniors that were starters and contributors," Szynal said. "They will be missed. We have a nice nucleus coming back and we will be anxious to get started."
Somerset begins state play next Monday.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (0): SIpes 2b 403, Urban ss 300, E. Miller 1b 401, Viduya p 000, Crum dh-p 301, R. Miller c 300, Glass cr-ph 100, McCall 3b 400, Sell rf 401, Fluke cf 301, Russell lf 300. Totals - 32-0-7.
SOMERSET (1): Stiffler p-cf 400, R. Dirienzo 2b 411, Hemminger 3b 403, Barron lf 400, Flyte cf-rf 300, A. Dirienzo ss 201, Costea b 201, Vanlenten pr 000, Beeman rf 000, Brewer p 000, Nickelson dh 200, Mostoller ph 100, Stull c 200. Totals - 28-1-6.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Hollidaysburg000 000 000-0 7 2
Somerset000 000 001-1 6 0
E-Sipes 2. 2B-Sipes, Fluke. RBI-A. Dirienzo. SB-Crum, Urban, Russell. LOB-Hollidaysburg 8, Somerset 3. DP-Hollidaysburg 1, Somerset 1. WP-Stiffler. CS-A. Dirienzo, Venlenten, Stiffler. SAC-Urban, Costea.
Hollidaysburg: Viduya-7IP, 3H, OR, OER, 4K, 2BB; Crum (L)-1IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, 2BB.
Somerset: Stiffler-7IP, 5H, 0R, 0ER, 8K, 3BB; Brewer (W)-2IP, 2H, OR, 0ER, 2K, 0BB.
Records: Hollidaysburg (15-6); Somerset (18-4).