Altoona walks off with victory

Leading up to his bottom of the seventh at-bat in a tie game against Mifflin County, Altoona’s Ian Yon had little to show for his three previous at-bats with two pop-ups and a ground out.

Yon crushed the first pitch from Tyreen Smalley just foul down the left field line. The second pitch had home run distance as well, but Yon hooked it a little too much again, putting himself down in the count.

He kept the third pitch in play, driving it deep over the center fielder’s head for a leadoff double.

After Mifflin County intentionally walked Jake Hunter to set up a possible double play, Cole Gibson and John Gority both drew walks as well to give the Mountain Lions a 4-3 walk-off win in the District 6 6A semifinals Monday at Mansion Park.

“In the early at-bats, I really didn’t barrel a ball. Finally barrelled two balls, but they were foul,” Yon said. “That gave me the confidence to finally get one out there. It felt really good off the bat. I knew I tagged it.”

Yon pitched into the sixth inning for Altoona, walking seven but giving up just two hits.

After giving up single runs to the Huskies in the second and third, Yon finished the fifth with a huge strikeout to leave the bases loaded, preserving a 3-2 lead at the time.

Yon was relieved by Jake Stolarski in the sixth after walking leadoff hitter Nick Hostetler.

Stolarski got the next two hitter on fly outs before Evan Mock singled home Hostetler with the tying run.

“We asked Ian how he felt after the fifth inning. He said he could go one more. You gotta’ have some trust there. We just figured if they got anybody on, we’d make the move to Jake,” Altoona coach Tom Smith said. “Give their guy credit. He came up with a clutch two-hit hit to tie the game, but Jake went out and threw a 1-2-3 seventh and gave us a chance to win the ballgame.”

Altoona (9-10) advances to play State College for the district championship 4 p.m. Thursday at PNG Field. Mifflin County’s season ends at 7-13.

“The game really came down to a couple missed opportunities,” MC coach Bernie Howard said. “I feel bad for Tyreen. He did a nice job for us. They’re 16- and 17-year old kids. There’s a lot of pressure. It’s very tough. Very few words you can say to the guys. It’s a crushing loss for them.”

Altoona took a 1-0 run in the bottom of the first when Gibson poked a single into right field to score Owen Kravetz.

After tying it in the second on a Noah Wright RBI-single, the Huskies took a 2-1 lead in the third when Max Oburn caught Altoona off-guard by stealing home.

“I think we just fell asleep there. That can’t happen. That comes back on me. You’ve got to be fundamentally sound on every pitch,” Smith said. “In a big game like this that could have been the deciding factor.”

It wasn’t, however. The Mountain Lions bounced back in the fourth with a pair of runs to reclaim the lead.

Matt Hartman drove home Braeden Burchfield with the first of two doubles. After Hartman moved to third on a passed ball, Kravetz chased him home with an infield single.

Hartman, Kravetz and Gibson each had two hits to lead the Altoona offense. Mock had two of the three Mifflin County hits.

“It’s really exciting to be playing in the championship game,” Yon said. “We didn’t start off the season too well, but we pulled together as team and put some wins together. We’re ready for it.”

MIFFLIN COUNTY (3): Oburn 3b 310, King lf 200, Henry pr 000, Yetter rf 400, Kanagy c 311, Smith cr 010, Smalley 1b-p 200, Hostetler cf 110, Matthews dh 200, Westover p-1b 000, Wright 2b 200, Mock ss 302. Totals — 22 3 3.

ALTOONA (4): Hartman ss 412, Kravetz dh 412, Kuhns rf 000, Stolarski p 000, Yon p-rf 411, Hunter c 200, Day cr 000, Gibson 2b 202, Gority 1b 200, Burchfield lf 311, Sinisi 3b 200, Becker cf 301. Totals — 26 4 9.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Mifflin County 011 001 0–3 3 2

Altoona 100 200 1–4 9 0

E–Yetter, Hostetler. 2B–Becker, Hartman 2, Yon. RBI–Wright, Mock, Gibson, Hartman, Kravetz, Gority. WP–Stolarski. LP–Smalley. SO–Westover 2, Yon 4. BB–Westover 3, Smalley 3, Yon 7.

Records: Mifflin County (7-13); Altoona (9-10).

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