Mock, Dragons capture district crown
Central starting pitcher Mike Mock didn’t let allowing a first-inning run bother him.
He calmly pitched around three uncharacteristic Scarlet Dragon errors.
But one thing finally ruined his composure just after he closed out a one-hitter to beat Bald Eagle Area, 5-1, in the District 6 Class AA championship at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Tuesday.
A shaving cream pie.
Following a mosh pit with the District 6 trophy, teammates smashed Mock’s face with handfuls of shaving cream, stopping his television interview mid-sentence. After a minute of laughter, Mock shook his head and said he had nothing else to say.
He didn’t need to. His pitching had already done all the talking the Scarlet Dragons needed to claim another district title and improve to 21-0.
“Mike came back after giving up that first run and was lights out after that,” Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said. “We made some errors tonight on plays we usually make, but these guys have each other’s back and Mike really picked up his fielders each time.”
The Dragons will play the third-seeded team out of District 7 on Monday in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
Bald Eagle Area, which lost to Central twice during the regular season, took an early lead when Bryce Greene drew a leadoff walk, Bryan Green hit into a fielder’s choice and Ryan Dyke doubled him home.
The Scarlet Dragons tied the game in the bottom of the second inning when Bradi Moore, who finished 2-for-2 and scored three runs, singled, stole second and scored on Nick Hoenstine’s single.
Both teams were held scoreless in the third inning before it looked as though the Eagles reclaimed the lead in the fourth. Nate Cleaver struck out but reached when the third strike bounced and catcher Brandon Ritchey made a bad throw to first. Cleaver went to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a groundout to second. With Brandon Gettig at the plate and a 2-1 count, the ball squirted away from Ritchey. Cleaver hesitated for a second before breaking for home, and Ritchey’s flip to Mock covering home made it there about the same time as Cleaver. Home plate umpire Carl Bopp called Cleaver out.
“That was big, and that was unfortunate,” Bald Eagle Area coach Jim Gardner said. “That’s the way the game goes. I probably had a better angle than the umpire did, but that’s just the way it happened. I could see what I could see, and he saw what he saw and made the call based on what he could see so you can’t fault him for that.”
The Eagles (14-7) had just one base runner the rest of the game.
“I just kept throwing strikes and tried to do my part,” Mock said. “We worked them inside and out and kept the ball down. It’s awesome to get the win, and I don’t think we’re going to stop here. We’re going to keep going.”
Central took control of the game in the bottom of the inning.
Moore and Mock led off with singles, and with two outs, they both were in scoring position with Brenden Vollkommer at the plate. Vollkommer fouled off a tough 1-2 pitch before hitting a sharp ground ball into the hole between shortstop and third. Bryce Greene fielded the ball, but his throw to first – which likely would have been late – bounced once and got past first baseman Jordan Kobularcik. Two runs scored, and Vollkommer moved to second base. Four pitches later, Zach Slagenweit singled home Vollkommer for a 4-1 lead.
“We’ve got a lot of speed, and we put pressure on the defense,” A.J. Hoenstine said. “That might have had a little bit to do with the ball being thrown away, but Brenden had a really good at bat and slapped it through the defense.”
Moore helped squash any thoughts of a Bald Eagle comeback with a twisting, diving, over-the-shoulder catch in left field to begin the fifth inning. The catch was reminiscent of plays Moore made during football season to secure a District 6 title for the Dragons in fall. Central also played in the District 6 final during basketball season.
“This means the world,” Moore said. “It’s our coaching staff that does it for us. He makes us go to practice every day and work so hard, and it pays off.”
Moore scored an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning after drawing a walk and scoring on A.J. Frederick’s triple.
“Our goal is a state championship, but it’s one game at a time like it has been all year,” A.J. Hoenstine said. “We’re going to have a tough game next Monday no matter who we play, but these guys will keep practicing hard. I told the guys that Raystown Lake can wait a couple weeks.”
BALD EAGLE AREA (1): Bryce Green ss 200, Bryan Greene c 310, Dyke 3b 301, Comly p 000, Cleaver dh 300, Kobularcik 1b 200, Guenot lf 300, Gettig 2b 300, Jones rf 200, Bennett cf 200. Totals – 23-1-1.
CENTRAL (5): Cunningham ss 200, Lewis rf 300, Stern 1b 300, Knepp 1b 000, Moore lf 232, Mock p 301, A. Hoenstine cr 010, N. Hoenstine 2b 301, Ritchey c 000, McKnight dh 201, Frederick ph 101, Vollkommer 3b 311, Slagenweit cf 202. Totals – 24-5-9.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bald Eagle Area100 000 0-1 1 2
Central010 301 X-5 9 3
E-Jones, Bryce Green, Stern, Ritchey, Cunningham. 2B-Dyke. 3B-Frederick. RBI-Dyke, N. Hoenstine, Frederick, Vollkommer, Slagenweit.
BEA-Comly (L), 6 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 K, 1 BB, 99 pitches
C-Mock (W), 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 K, 1 BB, 94 pitches
Umpires: Carl Bopp, Joe Stephan, ohn Berzansky, Andy Lubert
Records: Bald Eagle Area (14-7); Central (21-0).