Mtn. Lions endure rough day vs. State
The day started badly for the Altoona Mountain Lions — and didn’t get much better.
Three first-inning errors gave State College four unearned runs and the Little Lions went on to punish Altoona, 12-1, in the District 6 Class 6A baseball championship game Thursday at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
State College needed only 4 1/2 innings and 1 hour and 36 minutes to capture the mercy-rule victory.
“I think we had three errors after the first five batters,” Altoona coach Tom Smith said, “and you can’t have that.
“We didn’t make plays early and, to their credit, they capitalized,” Smith said. “Not only did we have three errors, they also bunched some hits and scored in every inning.”
SC southpaw David Shoemaker needed just four pitches to retire Altoona in the top of the first and then watched his teammates bat around and score five runs in the bottom.
Tyler Simpson grounded to third to start SC’s half of the first. Altoona third baseman Adam Sinisi could not make the play, though, and Simpson reached first safely.
Altoona pitcher Matt Hartman appeared to catch Simpson leaning, but his pickoff attempt sailed past first baseman John Gority, enabling Simpson to go all the way to third.
“We had two opportunities to retire that first batter,” Smith dejectedly noted.
Jack Hurley’s double to left scored Simpson with SC’s first run. A couple batters later, Altoona shortstop Cole Gibson booted a groundball and two more runs scored. When the side was finally retired, the Little Lions had five runs and were on their way to victory.
“When you can put up a big number right away, it makes the pitcher relax and that’s what happened for us today,” said SC coach Troy Allen. “We kept adding to it which made it easier for (Shoemaker) to keep going.
“It was an all-around team victory today,” Allen continued. “When our offense can settle in and be comfortable, we can be good. Plus, he only had to throw 70 pitches.”
SC scored four times in the second to make it 9-0 before Altoona got its only run in the third. Sinisi singled, Cody Becker walked and Hartman singled to load the bases and Sinisi scored on Owen Kravetz’s sacrifice fly to center.
State added a run in the third, two more in the fourth and Shoemaker retired the last seven Altoona batters to make it easy for the Little Lions.
Smith, who has coached Altoona for 17 seasons, was frustrated and disappointed with his team’s showing, saying: “Hats off to (State), but we expected a better performance from our team today. It was just one of those days.”
Altoona finished its season at 9-11 while State College advances to the PIAA state tourney with a 10-10 record.
“They jumped out 9-0 and beat us 9-4 in last year’s championship game,” Smith noted. “They stuck it to us both years.”
Altoona’s last district title was in 2012 and State now has won five of the last six years. Mifflin County won in 2016.
ALTOONA (1): Hartman p-ss 301, Kravetz dh 201, Kuhns lf 000, Stolarski p 000, Yon rf 200, Hunter c 101, Day cr 000, Gibson ss-2b 200, Gority 1b 200, Burchfield 2b-lf 200, Sinisi 3b 211, Becker cf 100. Totals — 17-1-4.
STATE COLLEGE (12): Simpson cf 411, Hurley rf 422, Karstetter ss 311, Cooper 1b 323, Kraycik lf 320, Franks 3b 333, Adams dh 301, Shoemaker p 000, Tomczuk 2b 313, Houser c 300. Totals — 29-12-14
SCORE BY INNINGS
Altoona 001 00x x–1 4 3
State College 541 2xx x–12 14 0
E–Sinisi, Hartman, Gibson. 2B–Hurley, Karstetter, Cooper, Franks, Adams, Tomczuk. 3B–Cooper. RBI–Simpson 2, Cooper 2, Kraycik 2, Adams 2, Tomczjk 2, Hurley, Franks.
Altoona: Hartman (L) 1.1IP, 9H, 9R, 5ER, 0BB, 0SO; Stolarski 3.2IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 3SO, 0BB.
State College: Shoemaker (W) 5IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 4SO, 1BB.
Umpires: Don McClure (home), Nate Shope (1b), Tom Culp (2b), Jim Rivello (3b).
Records: State College (10-10); Altoona (9-11).