EVERETT - The Bedford Area High School baseball team has had its share of difficulties with the weather this spring.
"This is a good group of kids,'' Bedford coach Scott Waugerman said Thursday evening. "They've worked hard, they endured a very rainy season and they didn't complain much.''
It was perhaps fitting, then, that the Bisons clinched their consecutive District 5-AA championship Thursday by beating archrival Chesntut Ridge, 7-2 in a game played at the Everett Area Elementary School baseball/softball complex under cloudy, damp conditions that featured intermittent drizzle.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Bedford pitcher Dylan Downs works early in the game.
"This is a nice ending to a season that has been up and down with the weather,'' Waugerman said.
Only the season doesn't end for Bedford (11-6), which will advance to the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs Monday against Steel Valley of the WPIAL at a District 7 site.
"We're happy to move on,'' said sophomore first baseman Austin Montgomery, who drove in three runs for the Bisons. "We're capable of scoring more runs than we did today, but we're moving on, and that's all that matters.''
Bedford combined timely hitting with outstanding pitching to defeat its county rivals.
Montgomery smoked a two-run double to the left-center gap in the third inning to score Dylan Daniel, who had reached on an error, and Isaac Kline, who had singled, as Bedford took a 2-0 lead.
The Bisons added five runs in the fifth inning, when Bedford bunched four hits and benefited from two walks and a Chestnut Ridge error to bust open a close game and take a 7-1 lead.
Travis Hickey's single knocked in one run, and Smith's sacrifice fly drove home another. Bedford caught a break when Ridge first baseman Shawn Brady made an outstanding catch on Montgomery's bases-loaded foul pop, but Brady's momentum carried him out of the field of play, and under high school rules, all the Bedford runners were permitted to advance an extra base and Zach Shaffer scored from third base.
"That was a big downer for us,'' said Ridge coach Jared Bilchak, whose team finished a 10-9 season. "It was a great effort on [Brady's] part, but he caught the ball in the field of play and carried it out. If your foot is straddling [the inbounds mark], you have to come back in the field of play immediately.''
The biggest factors in Bedford's win Thursday, however, was the Bisons' clutch hitting and the combined pitching of sophomore lefthander Dylan Downs and junior righthander Andrew Smith, who joined forces to limit Ridge to just four hits.
Downs pitched the first four innings for the win and Smith worked the final three for the save. Both pitchers allowed only one run and two hits.
J.D. Weyant's RBI single in the fourth inning off Downs and Matt Monko's run-scoring single in the sixth inning off Smith accounted for Chestnut Ridge's runs.
"Dylan and Andrew threw very well,'' Waugerman said. "They both threw strikes, and they both did a great job mixing the speeds on their pitches.''
"Hats off to Bedford,'' he said. "You put good pitching and timely hitting together, and you usually come out on top.''
Bedford did just that, and the Bisons will be in the state tournament for the second consecutive spring.
"That's our goal every year - win districts and move on to states,'' Waugerman said. "Once we get to states, we just try see where things go from there.''
CHESTNUT RIDGE (2): Hillegass lf 400, Guenther cf 301, Miller p 000, Brady dh-1b 311, Stultz 1b-p 210, Wiley c 300, Monko 3b 201, J.D. Weyant ss 301, Hengst lf 300, B.M. Weyant 2b 300. Totals - 26-2-4.
BEDFORD (7): Shaffer ss 411, Kline 2b 322, Blevins cf 211, Montgomery 1b 301, Hickey rf 311, Waugerman lf 000, Smith dh-p 200, Downs p 300, Miller c 301, Zembower cr 000, Daniel 3b 321. Totals - 26-7-8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Chestnut Ridge000 101 0-2 4 3
Bedford002 050 X-7 8 1
E-J.D. Weyant 2, Stultz, Shaffer. 2B-Montgomery, Daniel. RBI-Monko, J.D. Weyant, Montgomery 3, Hickey, Smith. SAC -Blevins. SF -Smith. LOB -Bedford 6, Chestnut Ridge 5.
Records: Bedford (11-6); Chestnut Ridge (10-9).
Miller (L) 4IP, 6H, 7R, 4ER, 2BB, 1SO
Stultz 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO
Downs (W) 4IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2SO
Smith (S) 3IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0 BB, 3SO
Umpires: Joe Thomson (plate); Bruce Holsopple (first base); Jake Clark (second base); Herb Moore (third base).