Mtn. Lions upended by State College
Trailing State College by two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning during Wednesday’s District 6 Class 6A championship game, Altoona’s Adam Sinisi was called out at the plate trying to score from second on a two-out single by Jake Hunter.
Mountain Lions coach Tom Smith sprinted from his third base coaching box to the plate to vehemently protest the call, removing his hat and waving his arms around throughout most of the break between innings.
But as angry as he may have been at that point, his mood had shifted to disappointment following Altoona’s season-ending 7-3 loss at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
“It was one play in the course of a game,” Smith said. “The umpire obviously saw it the way he did, and we saw it a little different. But one play isn’t going to make or break a game. We need to look at our eight walks and a couple dropped balls. That had more of a bearing on the outcome of the game.”
Mountain Lions starting pitcher Ian Yon struggled with his control and walked six batters in just 2 2/3 innings. He also threw four wild pitches before leaving the game with Altoona down 3-1 and runners on first and second.
Cody Becker looked as though he was going to pick Yon up, but he induced a fly ball that was misplayed into a two-run error that left Altoona down 5-1.
“In a big game, you have to be able to throw strikes and make plays. We didn’t do that early,” Smith said. “We put ourselves behind, and in a big game, that’s always tough.”
Yon made up for his wildness on the mound by getting the Mountain Lions back into the game with a two-run double in the bottom of the third inning, and it looked as though Altoona would get even closer two innings later.
With two outs and Sinisi on second, Hunter laced a single to right field. The throw was a little bit up the third base line, and it appeared as though Sinisi may have gotten his foot onto home plate before the tag was applied to his upper body.
The next half inning, A.J. Arnold drew a two-out walk and Tyson Cooper and Jack Hurley followed with back-to-back RBI triples to make it a four-run game.
“It’s tough to climb out of a 5-1 hole, but we almost did,” Smith said. “We almost had it down to a one-run game, but give them credit, they got two two-out triples to get their lead back. You have to tip your hat to them.”
State College will play District 10 champion McDowell at Bald Eagle Area next Thursday in a subregional contest.
“I think we can compete with anybody,” State College coach Jeremy Dinsmore said. “When they believe in themselves, anything can happen. They played with focus today, and it showed.”
State College scored five of its seven runs with two outs, drew eight walks and got four runs from the bottom two players in its lineup.
“The last couple days in practice, we focused on situational hitting,” Dinsmore said. “We wanted to come up big when the situation is right, and we hit very well with two outs. I’m proud of our guys, they had a lot of good at bats.”
Matt Hartman, Altoona’s senior captain who is heading to Slippery Rock to play baseball, missed the game with a meniscus injury.
“He’s been our best pitcher, and he’s been our best hitter,” Smith said. “It’s a shame that he couldn’t play, but we’re not using that as an excuse.”
Winning pitcher David Shoemaker and Tyson Cooper each finished with a pair of hits for the Little Lions, who have now won three District 6 championships in a row.
“State College always seems to set the standard,” Smith said. “Even with a losing record, they beat us in the regular season and beat us here. Until you knock them off, they are No. 1. Even in a down year, record-wise, they are still setting the standard in District 6 until someone can get them. We just can’t get over that hump.”
STATE COLLEGE (7): J. Cooper 3b 300, Pease cr-pr 000, Shoemaker p 402, Beck cr 010, Nastasi p 000, Arnold ss 310, T. Cooper c 402, Wunz cr 010, Hurley cf 302, Franks 1b 300, Singer 2b 400, Kurzinger lf 220, Hillard rf 321. Totals — 29-7-7
ALTOONA (3): Sinisi 3b-2b 301, Becker 2b-p 000, Baney dh 321, Hunter c 301, Day rf 211, Yon p-1b 301, Manley 1b-3b 300, Kravetz lf 300, Kuhns cf 201, Steinbugl ss 301. Totals — 25-3-7
SCORE BY INNINGS
State College 122 002 0 — 7 7 1
Altoona 102 000 0 — 3 7 3
E–Shoemaker, Sinisi, Kuhns, Hunter. 2B–Yon. 3B–Shoemaker, Cooper, Hurley, Day. RBI–T. Cooper 2, Shoemaker, Hurley, Yon 2, Day.
State College: Shoemaker (W) — 6 2/3IP, 7H, 3BB, 2K, 3R, 3ER, 105 pitches; Nastasi — 1/3 IP, 0H, 0BB, 0K, 1HBP, 0R, 0ER, 7 pitches.
Altoona: Yon (L) — 2 2/3 IP, 4H, 6BB, 5K, 5R, 3ER, 86 pitches; Becker — 4 1/3 IP, 3H, 2BB, 2K, 2R, 2ER, 53 pitches.
Umpires: Marty Knezovich (HP); Tony Sottile (1B); Ben Furman (2B); Andy Brown (3B)
Records: State College (9-11); Altoona (10-9)