Ridge knocks off Karns City to advance

PUNXSUTAWNEY — To say Phillip Dull and Ty Diehl have played together since they were knee-high to a grasshopper might be a little trite, if not a serious overstatement. But they played enough baseball together since T-ball to experience a great deal of winning, losing and growing together.

It is fitting, then, that Diehl picked up the highly-touted Dull with a PIAA state baseball playoff berth at stake. Diehl pitched the final 1ª innings to preserve the victory for Dull and Chestnut Ridge in a 4-1 decision against Karns City on Thursday in the District 5-9 Class 3A championship game at Rich Kuntz Field.

“We have been playing baseball together ever since we could pretty much play baseball,” Diehl said. “(We’ve played) all the way from T-ball, Little Lions, everything. We’ve been really good friends and a good pitcher-catcher duo.”

The Lions earned their first state baseball playoff berth in 10 years. They will take on Central, the District 6 runner-up, in a PIAA first-round playoff game Monday at a site and time to be determined.

“We believed from day one that we could do something special,” first-year manager Joe Perez said, “and God has blessed us with the opportunity to get the district championship and these young men all deserve it. They really do.”

“I know Central’s a really good team,” Dull said. “But I think if we play like we know how to play, then we should fare pretty well against them.”

Chestnut Ridge relied on Dull, the highly touted right-hander, through the first 5ª innings before he weakened. Catcher Diehl relieved Dell and issued a bases-loaded walk to Jacob Weckerly. But he struck out pinch hitter Jacob King to leave the bases loaded.

Dull struck out the side in the first and third innings, and fanned eight of the first nine men he faced. He struck out 11, walked three and yielded two hits.

“A lot of kids don’t see his velocity throughout the year,” Perez said, “And then when he comes in throwing in the high 80s and 90s, it’s tough for these batters to catch up.”

“He hit the strike zone well. He threw the ball hard and struck a lot of kids out,” Diehl said. “He played a great game.”

Diehl relieved Dull after the Gremlins parlayed an error and two walks into their only run.

“He was missing the strike zone a little bit. But I went out, called time, calmed him down a little bit,” Diehl said. “Then he hit his pitch count, and I had to go in.”

Dull scored the game’s first run on his team’s first turn at bat. He reached base on a hit batsman, stole second, and scored on Brady Harbaugh’s single to right.

“He’s our leader. He’s the guy that we go to,” Perez said. “I’m sure he’s going to want the ball Monday against Central. But I’ve got to talk to him, see where he’s at, and see if his arm is feeling good because first and foremost, I make sure that the kids are healthy.”

Dull started a three-run rally when he reached first on an error, stole two bases and scored on a groundout. That run was unearned, as were subsequent runs scored by Cody Lohr and Victor Fauple-Persons.

To say Karns City starter Eric Dodd deserved better would not be out of line. He went the distance, yielded seven hits, struck out six men and walked two. The Gremlins committed four error behind him, including three that led to three unearned runs in the third.

“We did some things that were really uncharacteristic for us over the past month,” Karns City manager David McElroy said. “We really well all season. But over the past month we played defense very well, we had really timely hitting, we moved runners over. (But) tonight, we uncharacteristically booted some balls around. And that got us in trouble.”

The Gremlins, who play in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference, had one last chance to tie the score in the bottom of the seventh. Stephen O’Donnell reached base on a fielder’s choice and advanced to third on a one-out double by Nolan Riley. O’Donnell stayed at third, however, and Riley was retired after he overran second base and was tagged by Dull, the shortstop.

“(Riley) hit the ball well and I think he kind of assumed that the runner on third was going to score. So he tried to take the extra base. He was trying to make a hustle play,” McElroy said.

“I truly believe that was the biggest momentum shift, right there, Perez said.

Perez is sure Dull will want the ball in Monday’s first round game against the Red Dragons. But first things first …

“I’m sure he’s going to want the ball Monday against Central,” Perez said. “But I’ve to talk to him, see where he’s at, and see if his arm is feeling good because first and foremost, I make sure that the kids are healthy.”

CHESTNUT RIDGE (4):Dull p-ss 320, Diehl c-p 400, Harbaugh cf 301, Lohr lf 310, Faupel-Persons rf 411, McCoy 3b-c 302, McVicker ss-3b 201, Brady 1b 301, Mowry dh 301, Weaver rf 000, Totals 28-4-7-3

KARNS CITY (1):O’Donnell 2b 400, Riley 1b 220, Yough ss 400, Williams c 200, Lantz 3b 301, Ebbitt lf 100, Weckerly dh 201, Thompson cf 000, Dodd p 200, King ph 100, Hutchison rf 201, Totals 23-1-4-1

SCORE BY INNINGS

Chestnut Ridge 103 001 0–4 7 1

Karns City 000 001 0–1 4 4

E–Weaver, O’Donnell 2, Lantz, Hutchison. DP–Chestnut Ridge 1, Karns City 1. LOB–Chestnut Ridge 6, Karns City 8. RBI–Diehl, Harbaugh, Faupel-Persons, Weckerly. SB–Dull 3, Brody. CS–McCoy. SH–Ebbitt.

Chestnut Ridge pitching

Dull (W) 5 2-3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 K

Diehl (Save) 1 2-3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Karns City pitching

Dodd (W) 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

HBP–Dull (by Dodd).

WP–Diehl. PB–Williams.

Umpires: Home–Joe Shick, 1B–Perry Neal, 2B–Dave Neal, 3B–Sam Veval.

Team records:Chestnut Ridge (13-7), Karns City (15-3).

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