HOLLIDAYSBURG - Last week, Huntingdon and Hollidaysburg met in a regular-season high school baseball game with the Golden Tigers winning by one run. The two met again Thursday afternoon, but the stakes were higher, much higher.
A sacrifice fly by Jericho Hilling in the bottom of the seventh inning scored John Servello with the winning run in Hollidaysburg's 4-3 victory over the Bearcats in the District 6 Class AAA semifinals Thursday afternoon.
Hollidaysburg (12-8) plays Somerset at 4 p.m. next Wednesday at Peoples Natural Gas Field for the championship.
"This one hurts a lot. It was a great high school baseball game with two solid pitchers who did a good job," said Huntingdon coach George Zanic, whose team led, 3-2, going into the bottom of the seventh. "We made some mistakes late that were uncharacteristic of us. I can't explain it."
Trailing 3-2, Hollidaysburg opened the seventh when Andy Crum reached on a Huntingdon error. Servello then singled him to third, giving the Tigers runners on the corners and no one out.
"We've won a couple of games like this, but getting that first guy on was big. Servello had a good at-bat, too," Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal said. "We have a group of kids who battle until the last out."
Hollidaysburg then scored the tying run when Bearcats pitcher Devon Claar tried to pick Crum off at third base. The throw went over third baseman Hunter Price, allowing Crum to score and Servello to move to second.
Cory Storm followed with an infield single with Servello remaining at second. A fielder's choice off the bat of Mitch Augustine forced Storm out at second, but Servello was now at third base.
Up stepped Hilling, who had walked twice and grounded out to short batting in the No. 7 hole during the game.
"Jericho has really come on the last month," Szynal said. "He had two strikes on him, too, and the outfield was playing shallow, but I was going to send [Servello] regardless. I know they made some good throws earlier in the game, but we wanted to take our chances."
Hilling lifted a flyball to center, which was caught by Tanner Cook. He threw home to catcher Leif Brown, who caught the ball on a bounce just as Servello was hitting home plate. The ball bounced out as the tag was applied, and the freshman Tiger was safe with the winning run.
"It was the right call. Tanner made a great throw, but the kid kicked the ball out of the glove at the plate," Zanic said. "It's a tough way for our seniors to go out."
Huntingdon (12-8) took a 2-0 lead on Crum, the starter, with two in the second on an RBI double by Kodiak Heaton and an RBI single from John Wagner. Hollidaysburg, which left the bases loaded twice early in the game, got one back in the third when Jordan McCall walked and scored on a Storm single.
Hollidaysburg tied it at 2-2 with a run in the sixth when courtesy runner Mike Kelly scored on a McCall single.
Huntingdon took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh off McCall, who took over for Crum in the seventh. With Chris Alleman on third and Wagner on first and two outs, Claar skied one to center field, but the ball fell in between center fielder Mitch Augustine and shortstop Trent Sipes, who both converged on the ball at the same time.
"We work on that with our flyball priority drills," Szynal said. "We have to try to not let that happen again."
Game notes: Crum finished with 13 strikeouts in six-plus innings. He walked five and gave up three hits, and all three runs were earned. Price struck out seven and walked five. Two of the four runs Huntingdon gave up were unearned. ... Storm, a freshman, had three of Hollidaysburg's eight hits. ... Huntingdon made three errors. Hollidaysburg did not commit an error. ... Somerset beat Johnstown, 10-0, in six innings in the other semifinal game. Somerset already beat Hollidaysburg this season.
HUNTINGDON (3): Wagner ss 301 Cook cf 400, Claar 2b-p 201, Price p-3b 400, Gearhart 3b 3000, McGlaughlin 2b 000, Stetchock 1b 210, Brown c 000, Heaton dh 211, Fisher rf 201, Alleman lf 310. Totals - 25-3-4.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (4): Sipes ss 200, McCall 2b-p 311, Crum p 411, Servello rf 411, Storm 3b-2b 403, Augustine cf 301, Hilling c 100, Kelly cr 010, Simpson 1b 201, Stubbs cr-ph 100, Smolko 3b 000, Weaver lf 300. Totals - 27-4-8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Huntingdon020 000 1 - 3 4 3
Hollidaysburg001 001 2 - 4 8 0
E-Price, Claar, Wagner. 2B-Heaton. RBI-McCall, Storm, Hilling, Wagner, Claar, Heaton. SF-Hilling.
Huntingdon IP H R ER SO BB
Price 5 1/3 5 2 1 7 B
Claar L 1 1/3 3 2 1 1 1
Crum 6 1/3 3 3 3 13 5
McCall W 2/3 1 0 0 0 0
HBP - Stetchock (By Crum).
Records: Hollidaysburg (12-8), Huntingdon (11-7).