Bedford going back to states

PUNXSUTAWNEY — With confidence in his starting pitcher and some sage advice for his hitters, Bedford Bisons coach Adam Arnold got just about everything he wanted from Wednesday’s District 5/9 Class 3A Sub-Regional finals matchup with Brookville.

The most important result was the 6-3 win over the D9 champion Raiders on a soggy, but remarkably playable, Rich Kuntz Field. The game was delayed 75 minutes because of heavy rain just after the Bisons arrived at the field. The win propelled the Bisons into the state playoffs for the first time since 2014.

The 12-9 Bisons face WPIAL runner-up Hopewell on Monday at a D5 site and time to be announced. Hopewell fell to Steel Valley, 5-4 in eight innings, in their district final on Tuesday.

A four-run third inning set the tone for the Bisons, who were getting a stellar effort on the mound from senior Dylan Arnold.

“Our plan is always going to be getting deep into counts in early at-bats,” Coach Arnold said. “Especially with the pitching rules, that’s why I preach to our pitchers to not mess around early in the game and pound the strike zone. Dylan did that, but that approach started to happen the last game where we saw a lot of pitches and were able to be selective. I just preach to them that if you’re going to swing early in the at-bat, it’s got to be perfect and you have to do something with it.”

Against Raiders ace Aaron Park, who was throwing in the mid- to low-80s most of the game, the Bisons shortened their swing and took him the other way. Almost every one of their six hits off Park in six innings went to right field.

“That’s the approach you have to have against a plus kid. Aaron is a plus-pitcher,” Arnold said. “The kids play the game the right way and play hard and they’ll do anything we ask them to do. I can’t ask for anything more than that.”

With one out in the top of the third, Drew Hall worked Park for a walk. Jared Dowey singled and Nate Semanek doubled home Hall and Dowey to third. After Dylan Arnold walked, Dowey scored on a wild pitch.

“Before the game, we were told to stay back and take it to right field and not to try to do too much,” said Dowey, who along with Semanek led the Bisons offense with two hits apiece. “We were very confident coming in today. We thought we had a good shot of doing what we had last game.”

Then with two outs, Jesse Arnold singled home Semanek and Dylan Arnold for the 4-0 lead.

Bedford tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Mercury Swaim singled with one out and came around to score when Hall’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed by Park, who throw the ball away down the right-field line. Dowey’s groundout to second pushed home Hall, who raced to third when the throw home to get Hall got away.

That was enough for the Bisons, who rode Dylan Arnold’s arm for five innings. He scattered four hits with four walks and three strikeouts on 72 pitches.

“I just wanted to throw strikes. I knew the eight guys were behind me and I trusted them,” said Arnold, the last of three pitchers to help nail down their memorable 17-12 slugfest win over Chestnut Ridge last week. “We had a couple days off to give our pitchers some rest, so we all healed up and were ready to go.”

The Raiders’ lone run, an unearned one, off Arnold came in the fourth when Park singled and raced to third when rightfielder David Gresh misplayed the one-hopper that got by him. Brady Caylor then singled him in.

“That’s a continuation of what Dylan did last week against Chestnut Ridge,” Coach Arnold said. “He came in and shut it down. He was the stalwart the last three innings and got us the victory. He kept us close and whenever we got the lead, he was the one to shut it down. There’s no one else I’m going to turn to. The senior leadership, he’s been doing it and he’s a three-sport athlete and now a three-sport district champion.”

In the fifth, the Raiders had runners on first and second with one out. Seth Dunkle singled to left and leftfielder Dodge Bebout gunned down Chase Palmer, who was waved home despite the Raiders trailing by five runs.

“When Dodge has the ball in his hands, I have all the confidence in the world he’s going to make a play,” Coach Arnold said.

Dowey replaced Arnold on the mound the final two innings. The Raiders loaded the bases with one out, but Dowey got Park on a forceout grounder to shortstop that scored a run before Caylor singled home Dane Lyle to get within 6-3.

But Dowey got Tanner LaBenne to ground out to Jesse Arnold at first base, sealing the win and punching a ticket to states.

“It was tough to corral their pitcher. It seemed like anything he threw up there, we couldn’t square up and when we did, it was right to a guy,” Raiders head coach Nathan Bonfardine, whose team finished 11-9. “We just needed to do a better job hitting the baseball and some situational hitting, we need to be able to move him over and push runs across. Our bats weren’t alive tonight … They barreled the ball and did a good job in the third inning. We couldn’t really recover from that.”

BEDFORD (6): Dowey cf-p 4121, Semanek c 4121, Dy. Arnold p-cf 1110, Koontz cr 0000, Cessna 3b 3000, Je. Arnold 1b 4012, Dull dh 3000, Bebout lf 0000, Gresh rf 3000, Swaim ss 3110, Hall 2b 1200. Totals – 27-6-7-4.

BROOKVILLE (3): Dunkle ss 4010, Miner cf 2000, Park p-3b 4111, Caylor 2b 3021, T. LaBenne 1b 4000, C. LaBenne lf 2000, Gilhousen dh 3000, Geer rf 0000, Palmer 3b 2010, Rhoades c 0000, Roney ph 1110, Lyle c-p 0100, Ruhlman cr 0000. Totals: 25-3-6-2.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Bedford 004 200 0 – 6 7 1

Brookville 000 100 2 – 3 6 1

Errors: Park, Geer, Caylor; Gresh. DP: Bedford. LOB: Brookville 7, Bedford 5. 2B: Semanek. SAC: Hall. SB: Semanek, Caylor, Palmer.

PITCHING

BEDFORD: Dy. Arnold 5IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 4BB, 3SO; Dowey 2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 1SO.

BROOKVILLE: Park 6IP, 6H, 6R, 4ER, 2BB, 2SO; Lyle 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 0SO.

Records: Bedford (12-8); Brookville (11-9).

Umpires: Rob Morgan (plate); Jerry Neal (first base); Keith Lepionka (second base); Sam Bevak (third base).

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