Patient Spartans eliminate Titans
McCONNELLSBURG – Tussey Mountain wasn’t thoroughly outplayed on Wednesday against McConnellsburg, but the Titans made too many mistakes to stay in the game.
The Spartans worked eight walks against Tussey’s starter and capitalized on five errors to hand the Titans a 10-3 defeat in a District 5 Class A first-round playoff game.
Tussey starter T.J. Swope wasn’t hit around – he gave up just three hits in 3 1/3 innings – but McConnellsburg (17-4) laid off his variety of breaking balls to get him out of the game after 96 pitches.
“We faced him earlier this year and really fell for his curveballs,” Spartan coach Steve Truax said. “So we worked hard on laying off that pitch until we were behind in the count and had to swing, and that was the difference today.”
“He was trying to get a little nit-picky and be too perfect,” TM coach Kasey Kuhns said, “but we have to play better defense, and we have to hit better. We didn’t see overpowering stuff.”
The Titans (13-6) opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second.
Derek Wills recorded a two-out single and advanced to second on a wild pitch, and Michael Mitchell followed with a single to center to give Tussey a 1-0 lead. But the Spartans erupted for six runs in the bottom of the inning.
Dalton Garlock led off the inning with a walk, J.T. Barnard was hit by a pitch, and Justin Welsh walked to load the bases with no outs. Chase Novak worked another walk to even up the score, and Ryan Koontz followed with a two-run single to put McConnellsburg ahead, 3-1.
Landon Richards then reached base on a bunt, Tristan Deneen reached on an error that allowed the fourth run to score, and Beau Wilson drove in a run with a fielder’s choice. When the throw sailed past the first baseman, another run scored to make it 6-1.
“We messed up,” Tussey catcher Wyatt Brumbaugh said. “We didn’t hit the strike zone and our defense wasn’t there, but that’s baseball. You hate it, you love it, but you still play it.”
Staked with a big lead, McConnellsburg starter Taylor Souders went to work.
He cruised through the first five innings, giving up just one run on three hits and needing only 65 pitches.
“This was probably my best game of the season,” he said. “I was able to make my pitches out of the stretch, which is usually something I struggle with.”
“He did a good job of mixing it up,” Kuhns said. “He hit his spots, didn’t give us much to hit and his defense played very well behind him.”
McConnellsburg added a pair of runs each in the fourth and fifth innings on only one hit. The Spartans coaxed four walks with one down in the fourth to make it 7-1, and Welsh followed with a fielder’s choice to bring in the second. Then in the fifth, Richards started the inning with a single, and Tussey committed three consecutive errors to enable McConnellsburg score two more.
“We had to play better all-around, that’s the bottom line,” Kuhns said, “and it takes your best when you play a team like this.”
Tussey Mountain scored twice in the top of the sixth on an RBI double by Swope and a sacrifice fly by Derek Willis.
The Titans finished with nine more wins than last season.
“We had won five in a row coming into today, and I thought we were getting hot at the right time,” Kuhns said. “We just couldn’t get it done tonight.”
A close Tussey Mountain group will also say goodbye to seven seniors from this year’s team.
“This was a great group of seniors,” Kuhns said. “They were an awesome bunch and made my job a lot easier. I’m proud of them.”
“We didn’t have any seniors or freshman. We were just one team,” Brumbaugh said. “We joked around, had fun and just did our thing.”
Notes: In the bottom of the sixth inning, McConnellsburg brought four batters to the plate, and each batter swung at the first pitch Cody Truax pitched two innings in relief of Souders and gave up one run on two hits with one strikeout Dan Taylor pitched 21/3 innings in relief for the Titans and gave up two unearned runs on just two hits Each of McConnellsburg’s nine batters scored a run The game was delayed for roughly 10 minutes because of rain in the fifth inning.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (3): Taylor ss-p 401, Leonard lf 310, Swope p 311, Brumbaugh c 300, McDonald 1b 200, Willis 3b 211, Mitchell rf 201, Novaowski2b 301, Chadwich 301, Koontz dh 411, Strait rf 000, Richards 2b 221. Totals – 25-3-5.
MCCONNELLSBURG (10): Deneen cf 411, T. Souders p 300, Truax p 000, Miller cr 010, Wilson c 300, S. Souders cr 010, Garlock lf 211, Barnard 1b 210, Welsh 3b 310, Novak ss 211. Totals – 25-10-5.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Tussey Mountain010 002 0- 3 5 5
McConnellsburg060 220 X-10 5 0
2B-Swope, Garlock. RBI-Swope, Willis, Mitchell; Wilson, Barnard, Welsh, Novak. LOB-Tussey Mountain 5, McConnellsburg 9. WP-T. Souders. LP-Swope. SO-Swope 8; T. Souders 2, Truax 1. BB-Swope 3; T. Souders 1.
Records: Tussey Mountain (13-6); McConnellsburg (17-4).