Valley’s Taylor shuts down Blue Pirates

ALEXANDRIA – Juniata Valley faced off against Williamsburg for the third time this season at home Thursday in a District 6 Class A semifinal contest.

Southpaw Caleb Taylor took care of business on the mound, tossing a three-hitter in a 9-0 win for the Green Hornets.

It was the first time for the Hornets (14-6) in the district semis since 2010, and now they will appear in the championship game for the first time since 2008. Juniata Valley will meet Bishop McCort at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Crushers (15-7) defeated Homer Center, 7-2, in Thursday’s other semifinal matchup.

Earlier in the season, the Hornets topped the Blue Pirates, 7-5 and 8-0. This time around, Juniata Valley got out to a good start, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back.

“It’s a great feeling,” Juniata Valley coach Bill Peters said of reaching the championship game. “Especially for these guys. They worked hard all year. As the season progressed, we got stronger and played much better baseball.”

Taylor walked only two and struck out eight in his 78-pitch effort for the shutout.

“I felt good pitching and we had a lot of good defense, which helped me out a lot,” Taylor remarked. “I trust the defense and let [Williamsburg] put it in play.”

Juniata Valley finished with 12 hits as Kordell Collins went 3-for-3 and scored twice. Zack Faubert collected a double and a triple.

The Hornets got started with four runs on three hits and two errors in the bottom of the first. Jesse Claar singled a run home, and a throwing error sent two more runs across the plate. Zach Beam plated the final run with a single.

Faubert led off the second with a triple to right field. Bryce Hensor hit a sacrifice fly before Tyler Shaw got out of the inning with runners on second and third.

The bottom of the fourth saw the Hornets score three more runs on three hits. Faubert started things with a double. Collins singled, and an outfield error allowed Faubert to come home. Konner Barton and Sam Singer brought in runs for an 8-0 lead.

Taylor doubled in the sixth, and a single by Nate Leydig made it a 9-0 advantage.

The Pirates had singles in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Williamsburg had a man at third with two outs in the seventh when Collins made a diving catch to rob Tanner Kaurudar of a hit, preserve the shutout and end the game.

“Caleb did a great job. His curveball, screw ball and changeup were all working. He did a fantastic job,” Peters said.

Shaw went 3 innings in taking the loss, allowing eight hits. Cody Houck, Austin McMonagle and Cody Kensinger recorded the three hits for the team.

“We had the errors in the first inning and just didn’t hit the ball hard today,” Williamsburg coach Mark Welch said. “This will give our kids experience. We had five freshmen out there today.”

Juniata Valley is ready for its chance at the District 6 title.

“We had a couple big wins at the end of the season, and we want one more,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be a great experience to play [in Altoona].”

WILLIAMSBURG (0): Houck 2b-p 301; Carper cf 200; McMonagle c 201; Shaw p-3b 300; Dishong ss 300; Verbonitz 3b-2b 200; Kensinger lf 201; Pasley rf 300; Kauruder 1b 300. Totals: 23-0-3.

JUNIATA VALLEY (9): Collins 2b 323; Hensor ss 221; Barton cf 301; Smithmyer ph 100; Claar rf 211; Taylor p 321; Singer c 300; Grove ph 100; Beam 3b 301; Long ph 101; Gildea dh 300; Leydig 1b 101; Faubert lf 322; Hawn ph 100. Totals: 30-9-12.

Score by Innings

Williamsburg000 000 0 – 0 3 3

Juniata Valley410 301 x – 9 12 1

E-Dishong, Shaw, Carper; Collins. 2B-Faubert, Hensor, Taylor. 3B-Faubert. WP-Taylor. LP-Shaw. SO-Shaw 2, Houck 1; Taylor 8. BB-Shaw 2, Houck 2; Taylor 2.