Tigers lose on bizarre play
Somerset’s Tanner Stull stole one from Hollidaysburg Wednesday.
Technically, he took three bases, but the theft that will hurt the Golden Tigers the most is missing the chance at going to extra innings with a shot to win a District 6 Class AAA title.
With two outs, no one on and the score tied at two, extra innings looked like a strong possibility with Hollidaysburg’s Andy Crum in control on the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Stull hit a soft chopper that turned into an infield single. Two pitches later, he took off on a delayed steal. About 30 seconds later, he had crossed home plate and was in the middle of a dog pile at home plate after scoring the game-winning run of Somerset’s 3-2 triumph over the Tigers at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
“I have been around awhile, and I haven’t seen a game end like that,” Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal said. “It was a great hustle play by Stull. You have to take care of the baseball a little better than that.”
Hollidaysburg catcher Jericho Hilling’s throw to second on Stull’s steal missed badly and made it into left center field. Center fielder Mitch Augustine retrieved the ball, but Stull never stopped running. At first, Augustine was going to just throw the ball into second base, but after Stull didn’t slow down, the throw came home. Stull hesitated briefly before recognizing the throw was high. He headed home as Hilling made a leaping catch, but the momentum of the jump and throw knocked Hilling off balance and caused him to slip and never make it to home. Stull crossed the plate to give Somerset the district title and end Hollidaysburg’s season.
“I kind of took my chances there,” Stull said. “My third base coach had his hands up for me to hold, but I saw it was a high throw. I looked where the catcher was, and I saw he was behind home a few steps and I just took off.”
The Tigers lost 12-0 to Somerset in the regular season, but Wednesday’s game was much more similar to last year’s district final in which the Eagles beat Hollidaysburg, 1-0, in nine innings.
“I’ve never seen a game end like that, but aggressive base running and nerves that late in the game can force something like that,” Somerset coach Steve Costea said. “They are a quality baseball team, and we had to take advantage of something.
“Tanner has great instincts on the bases, and he forced them into making bad throws.”
Hollidaysburg never led in the game but fought back from two one-run deficits to tie the game and had a chance to take the lead in both the sixth and seventh inning.
Cory Storm, who had an RBI single earlier in the game, led off the top of the sixth with a single, but Augustine popped up his sacrifice bunt into a double play one pitch later. In the top of the seventh inning with the score still tied, Zack Simpson reached base on an error with no outs, but again the bunt came back to hurt the Tigers when Mike Kelly fouled out. Somerset pitcher Alex Dirienzo retired the next two hitters to set up Stull’s heroics.
Hollidaysburg pitcher Andy Crum allowed just four hits and two earned runs, but two of the three batters he walked scored.
“We should have made the play, but it’s baseball,” a dejected Crum said. “It was a good season, just a weird ending.”
Alex Dirienzo and Raven Beeman had RBI hits for Somerset, and Crum, a senior, went 2-for-2 with a walk and an RBI to bring home the Tigers’ other run.
“[Crum] did a great job and kept us in the game like we expected him to,” Szynal said. “He’s had an outstanding career here at Hollidaysburg, and he’s been our go-to-guy. It was a good game, and it’s too bad it had to end that way.
“Our seniors had a great run the last four years. They are great kids who did a lot of good things for Hollidaysburg, and it’s tough to end your career like this.”
Somerset will play the District 7 runner-up in the PIAA playoffs Monday while Hollidaysburg finished its season 12-7.
“Crum threw great for them, and we totally expected that,” Costea said. “He’s a great pitcher who can change speeds and throws different pitches – all for strikes. We knew we’d have to catch a few breaks, and Tanner just created one for us.”
HOLLIDAYSBURG (2): Sipes ss 411, McCall 2b 200, Crum p 202, Servello rf 201, Storm 3b 302, Augustine cf 300, Hilling c 301, Stubbs cr 000, Simpson 1b 300, Smolko pr 000, Weaver lf 200, Kelly cr-ph 110. Totals – 25-2-7.
SOMERSET (3): Stull c 221, R. Dirienzo 2b 210, A. Dirienzo p 201, Stutzman cr 000, Beeman cf 201, Vanlenten rf 300, Mostoller 1b 301, Berkebile lf 300, Coyle 3b 000, Drane dh 300, Rose ss 200. Totals – 22-3-4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Hollidaysburg001 010 0-2 7 1
Somerset101 000 1-3 4 1
E-Hilling, Rose. 2B-Beeman. RBI-Crum, Storm, A. Dirienzo, Beeman.
H-Crum (L) 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 K, 3 BB, 110 pitches
S-A. Dirienzo (W) 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, 105 pitches
Umpires: Scott Druckemiller, Steve Pache, Tim Plank, Ed Carstetter
Records: Hollidaysburg (12-7); Somerset (17-1-1).