Control issues cost Mounties
DUBOIS — Philipsburg-Osceola rode a literal perfect storm throughout the postseason that, up until Thursday, allowed the Mounties to start star sophomore pitcher Ryan Whitehead in each game.
With no rain in the forecast, senior Bubba Slogosky took the mound for P-O in its PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal game at Showers Field, and he was a bit rusty.
Slogosky allowed just two hits in three-plus innings of work, but he walked four batters and hit another as control problems haunted the Mounties in a 6-3 loss to District 10 champion Franklin.
“(Ryan) Whitehead has been pitching every game for us,” Philipsburg-Osceola coach Doug Sankey said. “We were fortunate to have rainouts in the districts, so Bubba didn’t get to pitch against Forest Hills, which he would have if not for the rain. We got to bring Whitehead back, and then we brought him back against Mount Union.
“Then we had six days off, and he was able to pitch again (against WPIAL champion Steel Valley). It was a hard spot to put Bubba in, because he hadn’t pitched since the regular season. He threw in practice, but it wasn’t the same. It’s uncharacteristic for him to have all those walks.”
With the game tied at two, Slogosky hit Kolton Banfi to begin the top of the fourth inning, and Carson Wible followed with a go-ahead triple off Philipsburg-Osceola reliever Carson Jones. Wible, the No. 9 hitter, finished the day with three of Franklin’s six hits.
Just two of Franklin’s six runs were earned as the Mounties committed five errors in the game.
“We didn’t play well, Captain Obvious there,” Sankey said. “I tried to tell the guys not to focus too much on this game. (Franklin) played better than us today, but we have a great group of guys with 10 seniors.”
Among those seniors is Landon McDonald, who had a pair of hits and an RBI for Philipsburg-Osceola.
“This is the best team I’ve ever been on,” McDonald said. “It’s a great group of guys, and we came together in the postseason. We finished in the top eight. That’s obviously not what we wanted, but today Franklin was the better team. We still are happy with our season, even if it ended short of where we’d hoped. I’ll never forget these guys.”
The Knights (23-1) took the lead in the second inning when courtesy runner Dale Kinch was picked off first base, but Kaden Keely beat a high throw home racing to the plate from third base.
“That’s a play we’ve practiced,” Franklin coach Brian Schmidt said. “Fake get picked off and get into a rundown, and it worked out the way we wanted.”
Trailing by two in the bottom of the third, Philipsburg-Osceola’s Keegan Soltis, who entered the state playoffs with a batting average of .500, drilled what at first appeared to be a two-run homer. The ball ended up back on the field and was called off the wall, but Franklin shortstop Connor Rakow’s throw to second was high. Soltis and Nate Gustkey, who had walked, both scored on the play.
Banfi, Franklin’s starting pitcher, recovered to get the next two outs and lasted four innings without giving up an earned run.
“They didn’t let it get to them, especially Kolton on the mound,” Schmidt said. “He got me two more outs and another inning on top of that to extend to (relief pitcher) Connor (Rakow), and that was huge.”
Though Philipsburg-Osceola outhit Franklin, 7-6, Sankey expected a little more from his offense.
“I thought we would hit this starter pretty well,” Sankey said. “We hit the ball pretty well, but I thought we’d score seven or eight runs off him, and we just could not get a timely hit.”
The Mounties brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Rakow struck out Micah Martin on a full count to escape the jam.
“Our leadership was off the charts this year,” Sankey said. “I told the young guys, ‘if you want the recipe for successful seasons, follow these guys every day.’ There wasn’t one day of practice these guys were sluggish. Every day was enjoyable.”
Philipsburg-Osceola finished the season 16-9 but should be a threat going forward.
“We lose a lot, but the guys we have back are absolute studs,” Sankey said. “Both Whiteheads (Ryan and Jeremy), Soltis, Gustkey and (Caleb) Pellerite, those guys are good players.”
FRANKLIN (6): Taylor lf 410, Wood 2b 411, Rakow ss-p 301, Rhoads 1b 200, Keely cf 311, Haynes 3b 300, Harmon c 000, Knox dh 400, Banfi p-ss 200, Kinch cr 010, Wible rf 423. Totals — 29-6-6
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (3): Kephart ss 400, Gustkey 1b 210, R. Whitehead 1b 100, Soltis 3b 312, Shaw c 401, Pellerite cr 010, Slogosky p-rf 000, Coudriet p 000, Dixon dh 301, McDonald 2b 302, J. Whitehead lf 300, Jones rf-p-rf 201, Martin cf 300. Totals — 28-3-7
SCORE BY INNINGS
Franklin 011 310 0 — 6 6 1
Philipsburg-Osceola 002 001 0 — 3 7 5
E–Rakow, Kephart 2, Gustkey, Shaw, Jones. 2B–Keely, Wible, Soltis. 3B–Wible. RBI–Wible, Haynes, Wood, McDonald.
Franklin: Banfi (W) — 4IP, 5H, 2K, 1BB, 2R, 0ER, 61 pitches; Rakow (S) — 3IP, 2H, 3K, 2BB, 1R, 1ER, 59 pitches.
Philipsburg-Osceola: Slogosky (L) — 3IP, 2H, 3K, 4BB, 1HBP, 3R, 1ER, 67 pitches; Jones — 1 1/3IP, 3H, 1K, 1BB, 1HBP, 3R, 1ER, 35 pitches; Coudriet — 2 2/3IP, 1H, 2K, 0BB, 0R, 0ER, 33 pitches.
Records: Franklin (23-1); Philipsburg-Osceola (16-9)