In the best-of-three Altoona Teener Major championship series, having two reliable 15-year-old pitchers helps, but having three is a luxury.
After the Aker Division winner Sheetz's Andrew George won the first game of the series on Tuesday, league-MVP Luke Eberhart and teammate Carter Replogle teamed up in the second game to sweep Lowey Divison champ C&G Savings Bank and capture the Altoona Teener Major league championship at Seitz Field.
"All year we have talked about our strong pitching and defense being the key," Sheetz coach Chris Perino said. "We have a great group of 15-year-old pitchers and a great defense. We have played all year behind our pitching."
After George went the distance to win the first game, Eberhart threw three innings and Replogle the final four in the second. Replogle took over in the fourth inning leading 9-2. He struck out eight and allowed just four hits over the final four frames.
"George pitched a great first game," C&G coach Gene Slebodnick said. "He kept guys off balance. Luke Eberhart, with the motion on his pitches, was unbelievable, and Carter Replogle did amazing at the end. My hat's off to them."
Sheetz led 2-1 entering the top of the third when it took a firm grasp on the game.
Consecutive doubles to start the inning by Nathan Hagg and Eberhart scored Hagg. A couple of Sheetz baserunning errors put two outs on the board, and six straight Sheetz batters reached base to cap the seven-run inning.
The big hit of the inning came when extra hitter Ben Batzel hit a bases-loaded pitch to the center-field fence to clear the bases and extend the lead to 8-1. Casey Sheetz singled in Batzel to make it 9-1 after Sheetz's half of the inning.
Eberhart and Casey Sheetz each finished with three hits.
"In the third inning we didn't think it would turn out the way it," Perino said. "We had two baserunning errors that held us up, but two errors (by C&G) got some extra guys on base. Ben Batzel's three-run double in the inning really opened the game up."
"We had to loosen up a little bit," Slebodnick said. "Sheetz hit the ball, and we had a couple errors in the outfield. We can't make errors against Sheetz. They're a well-coached team."
C&G received RBI singles from from T.J. Becker and Jonah Diehl in the fifth inning that cut the lead to 11-4, but that is as close as it got.
Each starter in the Sheetz lineup scored at least one run, while just two were held without a hit.
"Hitting the ball from our first hitter to our last put us over the top," Perino said. "We had great 14-year-olds that filled roles. It's hard to compete against our lineup because we have a good mixture of speed at the top, power throughout the middle and also get contributions at the end of the order."
Despite the loss, Slebodnik led his C&G team to the league finals, just a year after the team registered just four wins.
"I'm really proud of my team," Slebodnik said. "We had four wins last year and made it to the championship this year. It was amazing."
Game notes: Following the game, the league handed out a few individual awards to Derek Burkett (Teeter Group; 15-year-old sportsmanship award), Casey Sheetz (Sheetz; 14-year-old sportsmanship award) and Luke Eberhart (Sheetz; league MVP).
SHEETZ 8, C&G SAVINGS BANK 3
SCORE BY INNINGS
C&G Savings Bank000 300 0-3 7 2
Sheetz301 301 X-8 9 2
2B-Snyder, Replogle, Rupert. Multiple hits-Snyder 3, Sheetz 2, George 3. RBI-Snyder, Kustenbauder, Replogle 2, George, Rupert 3. WP-George. LP-Snyder. SO-Snyder 6, George 7.
SHEETZ (12): Sheetz ss 513, Kustenbauder 2b 310, Hagg lf 311, Eberhart p-1b 313, Replogle 1b-p 411, Patopa c 311, Dishing 3b-eh 311, Moyer cf 321, Glass cf 000, Criste ph 100, Rupert eh-3b 210, George ph 101, Batzel rf 311, Weston rf 000, Wagner rf 100. Totals - 32 12 13.
C&G SAVINGS BANK (4): Della c 411, Slebodnick 2b-lf 400, Houck ss-2b-p 402, Becker p-ss 322, Diehl cf 302, Wertz lf-1b-2b 313, Snyder 3b 300, Hughes rf 200, Drost rf 100, Walls eh 201, Feathers lf 100. Totals - 30 4 11.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Sheetz127 200 1-12 13 0
C & G Savings Bank011 020 0- 4 11 4
E-Diehl, Plunkett, Becker, Della. 2B-Hagg, Eberhart, Batzel, Diehl, Becker. RBI-Eberhart 2, Moyer, Batzel 3, Sheetz, Dishong 2, Diehl 2, Walls, Becker. LOB-Sheetz 9; C & G Savings Bank 7.
SHEETZ: Eberhart: 3 IP, 7H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3K BB; Replogle (W): 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8K, BB.
C & G SAVINGS BANK: Becker (L): 2 IP, 8H, 9R, 6ER, 0K, 4 BB; Plunkett: 2IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2ER, 1K, 3 BB; Houck-2IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0ER, 4K, 0 BB.