WILLIAMSPORT - Mark Curtis threw 108 pitches after six innings, but Philipsburg-Osceola coach Doug Sankey never thought about removing his ace.
Really, Curtis was just getting warmed up.
After Loyalsock scored three times with two outs in the sixth inning and made it a one-run game, Curtis was brilliant. The senior workhorse retired four of the next five batters he faced Monday at Bowman Field and clinched a 5-4 Class AA state tournament win over Loyalsock. The Mounties (19-5) advance to Thursday's state quarterfinals to play either Springfield Township or Pine Grove.
That game was rained out Monday.
"Mark still had good stuff," Sankey said. "Mark tends to throw harder toward the end of the game so we were confident leaving him in there."
Curtis won his ninth game and scattered seven hits while striking out six. He stranded the go-ahead runners at first and second with two outs in the sixth, inducing Loyalsock's best hitter, Kyle Datres, into a grounder to second.
Curtis hit Luke Glavin with two outs in the seventh, but struck out Ethan Moore with a nasty 2-2 curveball to end it and become the first pitcher to defeat District 4 champion Loyalsock (21-3) in a first-round state playoff game. The Lancers had reached the state semifinals each year from 2008-2010, winning the 2008 title.
"I thought we were going to do it. I thought we were going to pull it off," said Loyalsock DH Robbie Kline, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. "It says that we can fight and we never give up. That's what our time is like. We will never give up."
P-O broke a 1-1 tie and scored four fifth-inning runs after Loyalsock removed its ace, Datres. The freshman right-hander had allowed only three hits but was at 85 pitches and coach Jeremy Eck did not want to risk his ace's future after he had thrown 115 pitches in a one-hit complete-game semifinal win last week. P-O hit reliever Luke Glavin hard, scoring four runs in his of an inning.
It went ahead to stay on Andrew Greenwalt's two-run single. Parker Watson hit an RBI single two batters later and Matt Carpin capped the rally with a clutch two-out RBI single.
"I thought the difference with us today was we got guys on base and made some things happen," P-O coach Doug Sankey said. "In the district final [a 3-2 loss to Mount Union] we couldn't get our lead-off guy on so it was tough to move guys around, and we did that today."
Curtis was a strike from ending the sixth inning 1-2-3 before Tommy Baggett fought back from 0-2 and drew a walk. Kline later hit a two-run double, Bailey Young hit an RBI single and Nick DiFrancesco drew a walk.
Curtis never buckled, though, and now P-O finds itself three wins from capturing a state championship.
"It's a great effort from our guys. They never quit," Eck said. "We could have hung our heads, but they never did that."
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (5): Marcinko ss 412, Smith c 411, Greenwalt rf 301, Lee dh 400, Harris 2b 000, Watson 1b 311, Curtis P 200, Golemboski cr 000 Carpin lf 302, Kephart 3b 300, Walstrom cf 312. Totals: 30-5-9.
LOYALSOCK (1): Datres p/ss 401, Webb rf 400, Clark 1b 401, Glavin 3b/p/lf 301, Sosa cr 010, Moore ss 300, Baggett ph 000, Robbins pr 010, Krizan 2b 111, Kline dh 312, Pawlikowski lf/p 000, Young c 301, Lomison cr 000, DiFrancesco cf 200. Totals: 27-4-7.
SCORE BY INNINGS
P-O001 040 0-5 9 0
Loyalsock000 103 0-4 7 2
E-Glavin, Pawlikowski. LOB-P-O 7, Loyalsock 7. 2B-Kline RBI-Marcinko, Greenwalt 2, Watson, Kline 3, Young. SAC-Krizan. SB-Marcinko, Greenwalt, Walstrom, Krizan, Sosa, Kline. PO-Marcinko.