Bearcats get the best of Penn Cambria’s ace

By Ty R. States

For the Mirror

HUNTINGDON — Huntingdon showed it can find ways to score runs even when the hits just aren’t there.

Against Penn Cambria Division I pitching prospect Mason Ronan in a District 6 Class 3A semifinal baseball game at Juniata College on Saturday, the Bearcats struck out eight times in the first three innings.

The fourth inning was where they came through when the opportunity was there. Jackson Ritchey hit a grand slam, and Huntingdon went on to a 10-0 win in five innings.

The win put the ‘Cats back in the district championship game after having won the title a year ago. Huntingdon will play Mountain League opponent Bald Eagle Area at Altoona’s Peoples Natural Gas Field at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

This was not your usual game decided by the 10-run rule. Huntingdon (19-1-1) was barely managing to foul off any pitches and had put the ball in play one time in the first three innings. The Bearcats scored 10 runs on three hits — a double, triple and home run — and collected nine walks from Ronan.

“When we beat them last year, we knew we’d see Mason again. He’s a great pitcher,” Huntingdon manager George Zanic said. “Our kids went out and battled. It was tough early. His stuff is so good. We were able to take advantage of him on the bases, and that was the plan to run a little bit.”

Ritchey hit the grand slam to give Huntingdon a 5-0 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, he doubled to drive in two more and end the game at 10-0.

On the mound it was Jared Showalter (6-0) giving up just one hit to the Panthers (13-7). He walked two and struck out five.

A year ago in the district quarterfinals at Penn Cambria, the Bearcats managed just three hits off Ronan and struck out 14 times. Ronan walked five in that one and eventually ran out of pitches. This time he walked seven and struck out nine in 3 2/3 innings while giving up just two hits.

Dallas Hite picked up the Panthers’ lone hit in the top of the first but was picked off to end the inning.

The Bearcats were barely making any contact at the plate, but Ronan’s curve ball was hitting the dirt more often than not. On four strikeouts, catcher Brock Talko had to throw to first to record the out.

Huntingdon scored one run in the second without any hits. Drew Weglarz pestered Ronan the whole game, getting on base three times and scoring three runs. He walked and then stole second despite Ronan throwing over to first base.

A passed ball put Weglarz on third. Landon Fisher walked with two out, then Zanic called for a double steal. Weglarz was off with the pitch, and the curveball bounced and Weglarz slid across the plate safely.

“We thought we needed to manufacture something there because we weren’t getting good at-bats at that point,” Zanic said. “So we tried something, and it worked out. I thought he was going to throw to first, so we stole home and it worked out. That got the momentum going and got the guys excited.”

Huntingdon scored seven runs in the fourth after two outs on two hits, an error and five walks. Weglarz started it all with another walk. A walk and an error at third base loaded the bags.

Ritchey stood in and worked the count to 3-2. He got a fast ball and tagged it to left field for a grand slam.

“They wanted me to take some pitches,” Ritchey said. “I got it to 3-2, and he wasn’t throwing his curve very well today. I was sitting fast ball and got hold of it. My first reaction was it’s going to be over the outfielder’s head. Once I saw it went over, it’s pretty nice.”

Huntingdon didn’t stop there, though. Ronan walked two more, and then Nick Holesa drilled a triple to center for a 7-0 lead and later scored on a wild pitch.

Ronan went past 100 pitches for the game in the frame and had to leave the mound.

Weglarz was hit with a pitch to start the fifth. Ben Briggs walked, and Ritchey belted a double to end the game at 10-0.

PENN CAMBRIA (0): Perrone ss-p 200, O’Donnell 3b-ss 200, Hite cf 201, Ronan p-1b 100, Buck dh 200, Reese 2b 000, Talko c 100, Shuagis 1b-lf 200, Cabrera rf 200, Krise lf 100, Sekarak 3b 000. Totals: 15-0-1.

HUNTINGDON (10): Zanic cf 210, Holesa ss 311, Showalter p 200, Mykut c 300, Weglarz lf 030, Briggs 1b 120, Fisher dh 210, Gearhart 3b 000, J. Ritchey 2b 312, R. Ritchey rf 110. Totals: 17-10-3.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Penn Cambria 000 00x x — 0 1 1

Huntingdon 010 72x x — 10 3 0

E–O’Donnell. 2B–J. Ritchey. 3B–Holesa. HR–J. Ritchey. RBI–J. Ritchey 6, Holesa 2. WP–Showalter. LP–Ronan. SO–Ronan 9, Perrone 1, Showalter 5. BB–Ronan 7, Perrone 1, Showalter 2.

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