Blue Devils lose district title, still move on

First, the bad news for Bellwood-Antis.

The Blue Devils committed three errors in one inning that gave Southern Huntingdon two unearned runs and helped propel the Rockets to a 5-2 win and their first-ever District 6 Class 2A baseball championship Wednesday afternoon at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Now, the good news for Bellwood-Antis.

Despite the loss, the Blue Devils still advance to the PIAA state playoffs, since both the D6-2A champion and runnerup move on to state play, which begins June 4. Bellwood will face the District 4 champion while Southern will meet the WPIAL runnerup.

Thanks to Jack Showalter’s two-RBI single in the bottom of the first, Bellwood took a 2-0 lead into the third inning. That frame started innocently enough with Jordan Mansberger tapping a roller to Caden Nagle, However, the B-A pitcher hurried his throw over first baseman Troy Walker’s head and Mansberger wound up at second base.

The next batter, Dustin Jones, skied a foul pop near home plate that catcher Showalter unfortunately dropped. Given new life, Jones grounded out, sending courtesy runner Colby Varner to third.

Instead of two outs and no one on, Varner was at third and scored on a Mason Smith single. Smith wound up at second on center fielder Trent Walker’s miscue and Matt Parks followed with a single to right, scoring Smith to tie the game at 2-2.

“If we had that inning back, the game might be 2-0 or 2-1,” Bellwood coach Steve Conlon said. “That inning just killed us. Then they tacked a couple on, but if we keep it at 2-0, it might be a little different.

“You can’t have those mistakes,” Conlon continued. “It happened and we couldn’t recover. If we had made one play (in the third), I think it’s a different ballgame.”

Back-to-back doubles by Parks and Riley Myers, gave the Rockets two more runs in the fifth and a 4-2 lead. Myers singled home Jones in the seventh to make it 5-2.

“It’s great to win the championship,” Southern coach Rob Smith said. “It’s our first one as a school district and my first as coach.”

Smith praised the work of pitcher Austin Miller, who scattered six hits, struck out eight and walked only one before reaching the 100 pitch limit after 6 2/3 innings.

“He really settled in after the first inning,” Smith said. “We had a touch of the jitters early and it took us awhile to get settled in, but Miller was tough.”

“It’s pretty big, especially since it’s the first in the school’s history,” Miller said of the championship.

“Even when they got the first two runs, I knew our team would come back,” Miller noted. “I knew our defense would tighten up and I usually can locate my pitches.”

Conlon was impressed with the Southern pitcher, too.

“He was good,” Conlon offered. “He wasn’t dominant or overpowering, but he mixed, and never got himself in trouble.”

Conlon is excited his Blue Devils are moving on to states, despite the loss.

“We’re playing again,” he said. “We’ll take a couple days to relax and either go June 4 or 5.

“We’ve got one of best pitchers in state going,” he said of sophomore Travis Luensmann. “We have as good a chance as anybody to get to the final 8 and we’ll go from there.”

SOUTHERN HUNTINGDON (5): Jones lf 322, Smith ss-p 412, Parks 2b-ss 412, Myers rf 402, Miller p-1b 401, Hunsinger cr 000, Snyder cf 100, Booher 3b 200, Knepper ph 100, Park 1b 301, Dell 2b 000, Mansberger c 301, Varner cr 010. Totals — 29-5-11.

BELLWOOD-ANTIS (2): McFarland 2b 311, Trent Walker cf 311, Luensmann 3b 301, Showalter c 301, Troy Walker 1b 300, Whaley rf 300, Stewart lf-p 301, Plank dh 300, Nagle p 000, Kost lf 000, Schmoke ss 301. Totals — 27-2-6.

SCORE BY INNINGS

So. Huntingdon 002 020 1–5 11 1

Bellwood-Antis 200 000 0–2 6 3

E–Smith, Trent Walker, Showalter, Nagle. 2B–Parks, Myers. RBI–Smith, Parks 2, Myers 2, Showalter 2. DP–Bellwood-Antis 2 LOB–Southern Huntingdon 7, Bellwood-Antis 4.

PITCHING

Bellwood-Antis: Nagle (L) 4.2IP, 7H, 4R, 2ER, 1BB, 3SO; Stewart 2.1IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 2SO.

Southern Huntingdon: Miller (W), 6.2IP, 5 H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 8SO; Smith (SV) .1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO.

Records: Southern Huntingdon (17-4); Bellwood-Antis (18-4).

Umpires: Mike Kresovich (HP),Cody Cogan (1b), Dave Urbanick (2b), Jeff Holter (3b).

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