Big inning carries Altoona past Bison
Friday was not a good day for Altoona High pitchers, who gave up eight runs, nine hits and 10 walks to Clearfield in the opening round of the 12th annual Curve Classic.
However, the Mountain Lion bats saved the day by scoring seven runs in the sixth inning en route to a 10-8 win over the Bison at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The game included a 63-minute rain delay between the fourth and fifth innings.
“This was only our third game,” Altoona coach Tom Smith noted. “We’re seeing the same thing that we’ve seen in the other early games – our pitchers are just not throwing strikes.
“We walked their No. 9 guy three times and we were fortunate to get out of here [with a win],” he said.
“We had one big inning offensively and it was good enough to put us over the top, but we’re not going to be successful if we continue to pitch like that.”
The Lions fell behind, 5-2, after three innings, but exploded for seven runs in the top of the sixth, sending 11 batters to the plate while collecting five hits and a pair of walks.
Catcher Dylan Conrad struck the big blow when he lined a two-run homer into the left field bleachers to give the Lions a 7-5 lead.
“It seems like somebody always goes deep for us every year,” Smith said. “DC is in the four spot and he was able to pick out a fastball. Give him credit. Colby Fink [three hits] had some good at-bats, too.”
“I didn’t know it was going to be out [of the park] until coach [Troy] Pincherri hollered ‘yes’,” Conrad said. “It was a big hit because we needed this win.
“I’m just happy we got the win. We hung together and did what we needed to, and that’s all that matters.”
The win moves the six-time champion Lions into today’s semifinals against Hollidaysburg, a 3-1 winner over Latrobe, at 5:30 p.m.
“Martin came in and we were still in position [to win],” Smith said. “He kept it close and did the job he needed to do.”
Martin pitched four innings in relief to gain the win. Clearfield scored twice in the sixth and once in the seventh to make it uncomfortable for the Lions. The Bison had the bases loaded when Martin struck out Logan Puit to end the game.
“[Martin] struggled in the seventh, but was it the rain, I don’t know,” Smith said. “But, there are no excuses. We want our guys to throw strikes and make them earn it.
“He did give us a solid first three innings, though, and we got a big play in the sixth when [left fielder] Dom Lombardo made a great throw to third to get the third out. That was big.”
ALTOONA (10): Reighard 2b 321, Helsel cf 412, McGinley rf 300, Pope ph 100, Conrad c 412, Carper cr 010, DeGol 1b 310, Foosse p 200, Barton cr 000, Martin p 100, Fink 3b 323, Lombardo lf 411, Berardinelli ss 311. Totals – 31-10-10.
CLEARFIELD (8): Herrington 2b 221, Orsich ph 100, Puit dh 432, Rowles cf 000, Brady p 000, Kephart ss 311, Janocko 1b-p-1b 302, C. Collins lf-cf 210, Summers p 301, Sorbera c 401, Kennedy 3b 100, D. Collins 3b 211, Timchak rf 100, Sellers ph 000. Totals – 26-8-9.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Altoona200 107 0-10 10 3
Clearfield203 002 1- 8 9 3
E-Helsel, Berardinelli 2, Herrington 2, Kennedy. 2B-Lombardo. 3B-Reighard. HR – Conrad. RBI-McGinley, Conrad 2, DeGol, Fink, Lombardo 2, Berardinelli, Herrington, Kephart 2, Janocko 2, C. Collins, Summers. Sac – Janocko, McGinley.
Records: Altoona (2-1); Clearfield (0-4)
Umpires-Dave Adams (plate), Joe Bidoli Jr. (bases).