Rockets continue surging, tame Colts

CRESSON — Winners of 14 of its last 15 games, Southern Huntingdon kept its torrid run going at the expense of Northern Cambria.

The No. 4 seed Rockets jumped ahead 4-0 after the first and rode a 12-hit attack to back pitcher Mason Smith’s solid outing. Northern Cambria’s campaign came to a close as the Rockets prevailed 12-2 in Thursday’s District 6 Class 2A quarterfinal baseball game shortened to six innings at Mount Aloysius College’s Calandra-Smith Field.

“We struggled throwing strikes in the beginning. We gave up four runs and we had a couple errors,” Northern Cambria coach John Bonatesta said. “Once you get behind in counts, kids are good enough now to sit on the 2-0 and 2-1 counts to drive fastballs. When we served them up, they hit them.”

Thursday’s loss ended Northern Cambria’s season at 8-6. The Colts advanced to the district playoffs for the 10th straight season.

Four of Southern Huntingdon’s 12 hits went for extra bases. Senior Riley Myers provided a 3-for-4 effort with two RBIs and three runs scored. The Rockets scratched runs across in each of the first four frames to lead 9-0 after the fourth.

“We got a strong lineup. Our bats are really good and they’ve been getting stronger as the season goes on,” Southern Huntingdon coach Rob Smith said. “My guys are disciplined at the plate. They’ll take their walks when given.”

Mason Smith — Rob’s son — was stellar both on the mound and at the plate. The junior right-hander needed just 74 pitches to get through six innings. After retiring the first 11 batters in order, Smith scattered four singles and struck out six batters. Smith went 3-for-3 at the dish with an RBI and two runs scored.

“I think in the first four innings, (it seemed like) he threw about four balls. He pounded the zone and wanted us to swing the bat,” Bonatesta said. “We were off balanced with the off speed without a doubt.”

The afternoon could not have gotten off to a worse start for Northern Cambria. Starter Quentin Burk was chased after the first six batters reached base on 27 pitches. Dustin Jones scored on a wild pitch and Myers provided a two-run double to right-center. The fourth run scored on an error. Northern Cambria freshman Tyler Bearer came in and left two runners stranded in scoring position.

In the second, Matt Parks’ two-run single expanded the Rockets edge to 6-0.

Trevor Park and Smith produced RBI singles in the third to lead 8-0.

Even in defeat, Bonatesta was thrilled with how Bearer performed when thrust into the spotlight.

“He did a heck of a job. He threw four innings and gave up five runs on a couple errors,” Bonatesta said. “That’s an impressive job by a freshman to come in and be able to do that.”

Northern Cambria took advantage of Southern Huntingdon’s lone error in the fifth to score a pair of runs. Burk’s RBI single made it 9-2.

In the sixth facing reliever Logan Onkst, the Rockets supplied three runs to end it early.

Burk, Mark Marino, Onkst and Scott Yingling had Northern Cambria’s hits.

After concluding the season, Northern Cambria returns seven of the nine starters from Thursday’s lineup.

“We have a great nucleus coming back. We only had two seniors playing on the field,” Bonatesta said. “The seniors were good leaders, came out every day and gave us everything they had to try to keep the kids motivated and do the right things.”

Southern Huntingdon travels to play No. 1 seed Bishop McCort, District 6 champs in five out of the last six years, Friday at 4 p.m.

NORTHERN CAMBRIA (2): Wiewiora 2b 300, Pershing rf-1b 200, Marino c 301, Onkst cf-p 301, Yingling 3b 211, Vasil lf-ss 200, Wise 1b 100, Spears rf 100, Bearer ss-p-cf 210, Burk p-lf 201. Totals – 21-2-4.

SOUTHERN HUNTINGDON (12): Jones lf 321, Smith p 323, Parks ss 311, Myers rf 433, Miller dh 412, Varner pr 000, Dell 2b 000, Snyder cf 200, Booher 3b 221, Park 1b 301, Mansberger c 300, Hunsinger cr 010. Totals – 27-12-12.

SCORE BY INNINGS

No. Cambria 000 020 X– 2 4 3

S. Huntingdon 422 103 X–12 12 1

E–Onkst, Vasil, Wise, Dell. 2B–Jones, Smith, Myers. 3B–Myers. RBI–Burk, Smith, Parks 2, Myers 2, Snyder, Park. SF–Snyder. SB–Yingling, Bearer, Jones, Smith, Myers, Varner, Hunsinger.

PITCHING

Northern Cambria: Burk (LP)–0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, O SO; Bearer–4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO; Onkst–1 • IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, O SO.

Southern Huntingdon: Smith (WP)–6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, O ER, 1 BB, 6 SO.

Records: Northern Cambria (8-6); Southern Huntingdon (15-4).

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