Walks doom Tigers
Walks are as good as a hit. Ask the Central Mountain baseball team.
Walks also kill. Ask the Hollidaysburg baseball team.
Central Mountain benefited from 10 walks and scored 10 runs on only five hits Wednesday night to win the District 6 Class 5A championship game, 10-3 over Hollidaysburg at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Hollidaysburg built a 3-0 lead before Central Mountain drew five walks to score five runs on only two hits in the fourth inning to take a 5-3 lead and command of the game.
Central Mountain (12-6) added five runs in the sixth inning to cement the victory, with two more walks and a hit batsman proving instrumental.
“You give a team too many free passes, and eventually, they’re going to hit,” said Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal, whose team wrapped up an 11-7 season. “They (Central Mountain) got two or three timely hits, but a lot of the baserunners, we put out there for them.”
Hollidaysburg scored a first-inning run when catcher Logan Margroum’s sacrifice fly scored center fielder Joe Grassi, who had a one-out single and advanced to third on Caleb Gampe’s single.
The Golden Tigers went up, 3-0 with two runs in the third inning. Grassi walked, moved to second on a passed ball, and advanced to third on Gampe’s single to right field against Central Mountain starting pitcher Aaron Swartz. After Gampe stole second and Margroum walked to load the bases, junior third baseman Garrett Kratzer’s single to center field plated both Grassi and Gampe.
It wasn’t enough for Hollidaysburg, which also stranded 10 baserunners against two Central Mountain pitchers.
“It’s a seven-inning game, and you have to play the whole game,” Szynal said. “We got off to a nice start, but we couldn’t finish. Three runs against a team like that is not going to be enough.”
It wasn’t, as Central Mountain scored five runs in the fourth inning to defend the district championship that it won last year, also over Hollidaysburg.
Hollidaysburg senior right-handed starting pitcher Sam Servello allowed just one hit and struck out seven batters in 3ª innings, but also walked seven.
Central Mountain sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth inning against Servello and Gampe, who came on in relief.
Sophomore third baseman Payton Johnson drew a one-out walk off Servello, and advanced to second when right fielder Donovan Burnell also walked. Designated hitter Kaden Falls walked to load the bases, before Servello struck out center fielder Rocco Stark swinging for the second out of the inning.
Sophomore catcher Cal Probst then walked to force in Johnson with the first run of the inning. Senior left fielder Zach Eck then dumped a single into short left field to score Ross Glossner, who was running for Burnell, from third base, and Falls from second base, tying the game, 3-3.
Gampe was brought on in relief at that point, and he walked second baseman Tanner Lavelle to load the bases. Senior Aaron Swartz followed with a single into right field to score Trey Gentzel — a courtesy runner for Cy Probst — from third base, and Eck from second, giving Central Mountain the 5-3 advantage.
“It’s extremely hard to win a district championship — for us to come back here and win two years in a row is extremely pleasing, and points to the work that the players and coaching staff have put in to get ready for these games,” said Central Mountain coach Mike Kramer, whose team walked off Hollidaysburg in last year’s title game after suffering a last-inning defeat to the Golden Tigers in the 2017 district championship game. “We took advantage of their walks tonight, and we had hits in key situations.”
Central Mountain also got solid relief pitching from junior right-hander Zane Probst, who tossed four scoreless innings for the win, allowing four hits, striking out five batters, and walking none.
“We didn’t start out how we wanted to, but this team has a lot of heart,” Zane Probst said. “We never got down, and we just battled every inning.
“I just tried to hit my spots and throw strikes,” Probst said. “I knew I have a really solid team behind me.”
Central Mountain locked away the victory with a five-spot in the bottom of the sixth inning. Stark started the rally by walking, stealing second, and advancing to third when the throw sailed into center field. He scored on a single to center by Cy Probst.
Gentzel again ran for Cy Probst, and moved to second base when Gampe hit Eck with a pitch. After Lavelle’s sacrifice bunt moved Gentzel to third and Eck to second, Swartz was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out.
Gampe struck out shortstop Aidan Major, but Johnson followed with a key three-run double to right-center field that scored Gentzel, Eck and Swartz and gave Central Mountain a 9-3 lead. Burnell then dumped a single into short right field that scored Johnson and completed the five-run inning.
Central Mountain will advance to play in a PIAA subregional game against Erie Cathedral Prep next Thursday at Slippery Rock University.
Hollidaysburg returns a solid nucleus for next season.
“We have five seniors leaving, but a good group of guys coming back,” Szynal said. “If we put the work in like we need to, we have a shot to be a decent team next year.”
HOLLIDAYSBURG (3): Servello p-ss 400, Grassi cf 323, Gampe ss-p 412, Margroum c 200, Simpson cr 000, Kratzer 3b 401, Faber 1b 401, Gochnour rf 301, Helsel lf 301, Mierley 2b 300. Totals — 30-3-9.
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (10): Eck lf 321, Lavelle 2b 200, Swartz p-1b 311, Major ss 400, Johnson 3b 221, Burnell rf 211, Glossner cr 000, Z. Probst 1b-p 100, Falls dh 110, Stark cf 210, C. Probst c 201, Gentzel cr 020. Totals –22-10-5.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Hollidaysburg 102 000 0–3 9 1
Central Mountain 000 505 X–10 5 1
E–Margroum, Major. 2B–Grassi, Helsel, Johnson. RBI–Kratzer 2, Margroum, Johnson 3, Eck 2, Swartz 2, C. Probst 2, Burnell. SB–Gampe, Johnson, Glossner, Stark. SAC–Lavelle. HBP–Eck by Gampe. LOB–Hollidaysburg 10, Central Mountain 5.
HOLLIDAYSBURG: Servello (L) 3 2/3 IP, 1H, 5R, 5ER, 7BB, 7SO; Gampe 2 1/3IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 3SO.
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN: Swartz 3IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 3SO; Z. Probst 4IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 5SO.
Records: Hollidaysburg (11-7); Central Mountain (12-6).
Umpires: Brent Dorofey (plate); Ron Goisovich (first base); Scott Matthews (second); Jason Dorofey (third).