BELLEFONTE - Club Altoona's Cumming Motors couldn't have started the 15- and 16-year-old VFW Teener League state tournament any worse.
It couldn't have ended it much better, either.
While the final destination wasn't what manager Vince Cumming had hoped for, his squad bounced back from an 18-3, four-inning defeat to Penns Valley on Friday to finish as the runner-up to Clearfield in Bellefonte on Monday.
The opening-round loss forced Cumming Motors to win four straight games to reach Monday's championship round, which fell 10-8 to a Clearfield team that went 4-0.
"The guys did a great job after getting blown out in that first game," said Cumming, whose team would have forced a deciding game with a win. "They picked it back up and played hard from there on out. They hit the ball extremely well the last couple of days.
"The guys want to play ball, and they kept on battling. We almost had this game."
Club Altoona overcame a 3-0 deficit by plating five runs with two outs in the third, but Clearfield took the lead for good in the home half after Cole Kephart led off the stanza with his second home run in as many at-bats.
Kephart blasted a three-run shot off Altoona starter Andrew Gressler, and his second round-tripper sparked a six-run inning that was capped off with a bases-clearing double from Logan Puit.
Clearfield's Kephart was named his team's Most Valuable Player after going 3-for-3 with five RBIs.
"We made a bad pitch on the three-run homer," Cumming said, "but Andrew Gressler did a great job coming back. We wanted to get [Clearfield] off-stride because he's more of a location pitcher, and he did a good job for a few innings. He just got a little tired."
Clearfield added a run in the fifth on an RBI single from Kephart and carried a 10-3 lead into the seventh.
Cumming Motors didn't go quietly, however, as Trent Martin led off the frame against Brandon Orsich with a single - his third hit of the contest.
Catcher Cumming, who was Club Altoona's MVP, and Joel Reighard followed suit, and Andrew Claar and Trey Feathers made it a two-run game with singles of their own to chase Orsich.
Clearfield reliever Thomas Summers recorded a strikeout, and a fielder's choice on a close play at second base ended it.
"Their pitchers did a good job of keeping us off-stride," said Coach Cumming, whose team had 10 of its hits in the two innings it scored. "We just couldn't get into the groove like we did the last two days.
"The guys know they can hit and they came back [in the seventh]. The play at second was so close it could have gone either way. It just wasn't our day."
Club Altoona outhit Clearfield, 14-10, and was led by Martin. Catcher Cumming, Reighard, Luke Stultz and Derek Cursio added two hits apiece for the state's silver medalists.
"We're a young team with only four 16-year-olds," coach Cumming said. "They're good leaders, but we have a good team coming back."
Altoona (8): Volkommer cf 500, Cursio rf 502, Stern 1b 310, Martin 2b 423, Cumming c 422, Reighard ss-p 422, Stultz 3b 312, Huber lf 201, Claar ph 101, Gressler p-2b 200, Feathers 2b 201. Totals: 30-8-14.
Clearfield (10): Herrington 2b 120, Puit lf 311, Kephart ss 323, Taylor pr 000, Kennedy 3b 301, Summers dh-p 311, Orsich p 000, Sellers 1b 401, Cline rf 411, Sorbera c 411, Rowles cf 221. Totals: 27-10-10.
Score by Innings
Altoona005 000 3- 8 14 0
Clearfield306 010 x-10 10 3
E-Orsich, Sorbera, Rowles. LOB-Altoona 9, Clearfield 8. DP-Clearfield. 2B-Martin, Puit, Sorbera. HR-Kephart 2. RBI-Cumming 2, Reighard 2, Huber 2, Claar, Feathers, Herrington, Puit 3, Kephart 5, Sorbera. SAC-Herrington. SB-Cursio. HBP-Kephart (by Reighard). WP-Orsich 1.
Gressler-2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO.
Reighard-3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 SO.
Orsich-6 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO.
Summers- IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO.
WP-Orsich. LP-Gressler. Sv-Summers.