Bearcat grads keep adding to playoff itinerary with win

By Jon Fleck

For the Mirror

CRESSON — Having already graduated last week, the nine seniors on the Huntingdon baseball team have one more piece of business before wrapping up their high school careers–win a state championship.

The Bearcats took the first step down that path with a 5-2 win over WPIAL runner-up Avonworth in the opening round of the PIAA 3A playoffs Monday on a cool, windy afternoon at Mount Aloysius College.

Huntingdon jumped on the Antelopes for three runs in the bottom of the first, and Jared Showalter did the rest.

The senior righthander gave up just two hits and struck out 11 to get the complete-game win and help the Bearcats advance to the quarterfinals.

“His slider was just dominate. He probably pitched backwards. Threw more sliders than fastballs and changeups,” Huntingdon coach George Zanic said. “His two-seam fastball was really moving. I think he a little trouble controlling it early because it was moving so much, but he adjusted.”

Huntingdon will play South Side Beaver, the WPIAL third place team, Thursday at a site and time to be determined. South Side thumped District 10 champ Greenville 17-3 Monday to advance.

After Showalter retired Avonworth in order with a pair of strikeouts in the top of the first, Huntingdon jumped on Antelopes’ starter Ryan Felter for three in the bottom of the inning.

Nick Holesa drew a one-out walk, and Showalter singled to left to put runners on first and second. Felter struck out Alex Mykut, but Drew Weglarz came up with a two-out, two-run double that one-hopped the left field fence to chase home Holesa and Showalter.

“That was a big hit,” Showalter said. “Once we got those initial runs, I knew were in a really good spot.”

Ben Briggs followed with a single to left to drive in Weglarz.

“We saw them play twice. We knew their first pitcher was going to throw a lot of curveballs. He did, and we were ready for that,” Zanic said. “The middle of the order with Weglarz and Briggs really hit the ball well. They’ve come up big all year.”

Briggs finished the game 3-for-3 with a double and two singles. Weglarz had just the first inning double. He had two more potential hits taken away by the Avonworth defense.

“We also knew they’re a really good defensive team. They showed that. They were probably the best defensive team we played all year. Made some diving plays and kept themselves in the game,” Zanic said.

The Antelopes answered with two in the top of the second on just one hit. Felter singled with one out and Jacob Jaillet walked.

After both runners moved up on a groundout, they scored on back-to-pitches that got away. Felter on a wild pitch, and Jaillet on a passed ball.

“I’m not really sure what happened. My ball had some different movement than it usually does with the wind blowing in my face and a couple got away,” Showalter said.

Showalter bounced back in the third with three straight strikeouts and allowed just four baserunners the rest of the way, all reaching after the first two batters of the inning were retired.

“He’s an outstanding pitcher who can command three pitches for strikes. He throws pretty hard. It’s an effective formula,” Avonworth coach Dan Pomposelli said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to tip your cap to the other kid. He was good. We had 11 strikeouts. It’s tough when you only have 10 other outs to work with.”

Huntingdon got a run back in the its half of the second. Jackson Ritchey reached first on an error and advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw. He scored on Rece Ritchey’s single to right.

The Bearcats padded the lead with one more in the fifth. After Rece Ritchey reached on a one-out bunt single, he went first to third on Nick Zanic’s single to left center. Holesa brought him home with a sac fly to center deep center.

AVONWORTH (2): Reed cf-p 200, Stewart 2b 300, Grau ss-p 300, Miller 3b-ss 300, Felter p-1b 111, Homol pr 000, Sommers c 000, Jaillet dh 210, Dick lf 300, Penrod rf-cf 300, Gustic 301, Gannon rf 000. Totals — 24 2 2.

HUNTINGDON (5): Zanic cf 401, Holesa ss 110, Showalter p 311, Mykut c 300, Weglarz lf 311, Briggs 1b 303, Fisher dh 300, Gearhart 3b 000, J. Ritchey 2b 210, R. Ritchey rf 212. Totals — 24 5 8.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Avonworth 020 000 0–2 2 2

Huntingdon 310 100 x–5 8 0

E–Dick, Felter. 2B–Weglarz, Briggs. RBI–Weglarz 2, Briggs, R. Ritchey, Holesa. WP–Showalter. LP–Felter. SO–Felter 3, Grau 1, Showalter 11. BB–Felter 1, Grau 1, Showalter 4.

Records: Avonworth (16-6); Huntingdon (21-1).

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