By Michael Boytim
EVERETT – Luke Campbell’s three-run home run to pull Bedford within a run in the fourth inning Monday would have been enough to push momentum the Bisons’ way against most opponents.
Unfortunately for Bedford, its opponent had Cole Boozel.
The Mount Union flame thrower pitched the final 3 innings, didn’t allow a hit and struck out seven as the Trojans hung on for a 7-5 victory at Everett Elementary School in the first round of the Class AA PIAA playoffs.
“That’s a great team over there,” Campbell said. “Boozel was throwing a consistent 88 [miles per hour] I would say with a good breaking ball. He’s a tough cookie. That’s a great pitcher right there.”
Mount Union, which only scored two runs in its loss to Blairsville in the District 6 championship game, doubled that amount in just the first inning. After Klayton Heffner grounded out to begin the game, Boomer Brown, Boozel and Cory Kylor reached base consecutively to pack the bases.
Bedford starting pitcher Tyler Black got Brady Goodling to pop out, but Trevon Walker laced a two-run, two-out single to score a pair of runs. Thad Wakefield followed with a two-run double to make it 4-0.
“Those guys came up big in the clutch,” Mount Union coach Nick Imperioli said. “To get those, two-out, two-run hits was major. I knew [Bedford] could hit. They are a good offensive team this year, so we wanted to try and get ahead early.”
The Trojan lead changed the Bisons’ approach at the plate.
“With them jumping out to the big lead, it caused us to put some extra pressure on us at the plate,” Bedford coach Scott Waugerman said. “When you’re in a game like this, you don’t need any added pressure. I think we put extra pressure on us for a couple innings, and that’s not the approach that you want to take.”
Mount Union added two more runs in the third inning, again both with two outs, on RBI singles by Dylan Sunderland and Heffner.
Bedford got on the board in the bottom of the inning. Kody Blevins singled, and Isaac Kline followed with a double. Both runners came home when Luke Campbell hit a ground ball to third that Wakefield threw away. Austin Montgomery drew a walk, but Goodling made a diving stop on a sharp grounder by Zach Shaffer to end the rally.
Kline relieved Black in the top of the fourth inning, and he allowed only a two-out triple to Goodling.
Bedford got singles from Aaron Henry and Blevins before Campbell hit a two-out, three-run home run on Heffner’s final pitch for the Trojans.
“We started off pretty poorly,” Campbell said. “I kind of felt the momentum shift after I hit that bomb. We got within one, but I knew we couldn’t give up anymore runs.”
Thanks to a pair of errors, Bedford’s only two of the game, that’s exactly what the Bisons did in the sixth inning.
The insurance run didn’t help ease Imperioli’s nerves.
Boozel recorded the first two outs of the final inning before a pair of Mount Union errors put the tying run on second. Boozel recovered to strike out Travis Hickey on a sharp breaking ball to end the game.
“This team can never have an easy ending,” Imperioli said. “I don’t care what the situation. I knew, even when we had two outs, that it wouldn’t be a simple finish. Bedford never stopped fighting.”
The Bisons finished 18-4 with Laurel Highlands Conference and District 5 Class AA championships under their belt.
“It’s been fun,” Campbell said. “We’ve had a blast all year, and we accomplished a lot. I feel like we could have done more, but would-have, could-have, should-have. You can only do so much.”
MOUNT UNION (7): Heffner p-cf 501, Pollock cr 000, Brown c 403, D. Smith 020, Boozel ss-p 311, Kylor rf 411, Goodling 2b 412, Walker cf-ss 322, Wakefield 3b 401, Atherton 1b 401, Sunderland lf 301. Totals – 34-7-13.
BEDFORD (5): Blevins cf 413, Kline ss-p 321, Campbell c 411, Black p-3b 400, Deasy pr 000, Montgomery 1b 200, Zembower pr 000, Hickey rf 300, Shaffer 3b-ss 300, Downs lf 300, Henry 2b 311. Totals – 29-5-6.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Mount Union402 001 0-7 13 4
Bedford002 300 0-5 6 2
E-Heffner, Wakefield, Walker, Goodling, Henry 2. 2B-Wakefield, Kline. 3B-Goodling. HR – Campbell. RBI-Walker 2, Wakefield 2, Heffner, Sunderland, Campbell 4.
Mount Union: Heffner-3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 5 K; Boozel (W)-3 1/3 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 7 K.
Bedford: Black (L)-3 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 1 K; Kline-4 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K.
Records: Mount Union (19-5); Bedford (18-4).