Mounties oust PIAA champs

MARTINSBURG — Josh Earnest missed a few pitching starts earlier this season with a strained right forearm.

The Philipsburg-Osceola senior right-hander, however, has spent his last three mound outings more than making up for the lost time.

Earnest struck out 12 batters and allowed just one infield hit over 6ª scoreless innings, lifting the ninth-seeded Mounties to a 3-0 shutout victory over eight-seeded host Central in a first-round District 6 Class 3A playoff game on a rainy late Monday afternoon at the Central High School baseball field.

Earnest walked just one batter and only three Central players reached base all day against him, with catcher Hunter Klotz’s infield single in the fourth inning accounting for the Scarlet Dragons’ only hit.

“I just located my pitches on the corners and tried to get them to put it in play,” Earnest said of his game plan against the defending PIAA champion Scarlet Dragons. “I tried to get ground balls, but I was just putting (pitches) in places where (the Central batters) weren’t thinking they were strikes, or getting them to swing on breaking balls.

“I was making sure that my curve ball and slider were hovering over the strike zone,” said Earnest, who left the mound after reaching the 100-pitch limit mandated by PIAA rules for pitchers while striking out right fielder Jason Ferry for the second out of the seventh inning.

Junior right-hander Carson Jones came on to record the last out of the game on a strikeout, enabling Philipsburg-Oscoela (11-9) to move on to today’s 4 p.m. quarterfinal-round matchup with top-seeded Huntingdon at Juniata College.

“Josh has been hurt this year with a strained forearm, and that has limited his starts, but in his last three games, he has been healthy and has pitched tremendous for us,” Philipsburg-Osceola coach Doug Sankey said of Earnest. “He located three pitches for strikes today. This is a tough place to pitch, and it rained all day, but he kept his composure and threw real well.”

Central coach A.J. Hoenstine, whose team finished 6-10 this year, offered kudos to Earnest, who also drove in two P-O runs with a triple to highlight the Mounties’ three-run third inning.

“Give Earnest credit — he threw a real good game, he was lights out tonight,” Hoenstine said.

The Mounties scored all three of the game’s runs in the third inning. Senior first baseman Gage Coudriet started the rally with a triple to left-center against Central senior left-handed starting pitcher Preston Karstetter, who pitched creditably over five innings.

Senior rightfielder Hunter Ammerman’s groundout scored Coudriet, and after junior shortstop Ryan Kephart was hit by a pitch and junior second baseman Landon McDonald singled, both Kephart and McDonald came home when Earnest hit a triple to the base of the fence in right field to give P-O a 3-0 lead and its final margin of victory.

Philipsburg-Osceola has a tough assignment today, going up against a Huntingdon team that many consider to be a strong candidate to win the state championship.

“We play the number one team in the state in Huntingdon,” Sankey said. “But we played them last week and we played them tough, losing 4-3.”

Central ended a rough season Monday after winning the state title a year ago.

“It’s been an odd year,” Hoenstine said. “Everybody was in the same boat, but we didn’t get to practice much because of the (harsh April) weather, so we didn’t get to where we needed to be. We have a good nucleus returning next year, but we have a lot of work to do to get back to where we had been (as state champions).”

PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (3): R. Kephart ss 201, McDonald 2b-lf 211, Soltis 3b 311, Earnest p-2b 301, Bryan cr 000, Jones p 000, Shaw c 300, Slogosky lf 000, Dixon dh 300, Martin cf 300, Coudriet 1b 311, Ammerman rf 300. Totals — 25-3-5.

CENTRAL (0): Muthler ss 200, Klotz c 301, Karstetter p-1b 300, Walters cf 300, Ferry rf 300, Focht 1b-p 300, Bowman lf 200, Williams 2b 000, Miller dh 200, Eberlin 3b 200. Totals — 23-0-1.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Philipsburg-Osc. 003 000 0–3 5 1

Central 000 000 0–0 1 0

E–Coudriet. 3B–Coudriet, Earnest. RBI–Ammerman, Earnest 2. LOB–Philipsburg-Osceola 4, Central 3. SB–McDonald, Bowman, Muthler. HBP–R. Kephart by Karstetter. CS–R. Kephart (Karstetter to Focht to Muthler).

PITCHING

Philipsburg-Osceola: Earnest (W)–6.2 IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 12SO; Jones (SV)–1/3 IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO.

Central: Karstetter (L)–5IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 8 SO; Focht–2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO.

WP–Earnest 3.

Umpires: Steve Oakes (plate); John Garritano, Joe Bidoli, Jr. (bases).

Records: Philipsburg-Osceola (11-9); Central (6-10).

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