HOLLIDAYSBURG - One would think that in a 6-0 victory, Hollidaysburg baseball coach Jon Szynal would want to talk about the shutout performance of pitcher Dom Viduya, or the key contributions from hitters like Cory Sell, Adam Fluke and a few others on the day.
But for those in attendance Thursday afternoon, where the Tigers won their District 6 Class AAA semifinal over Johnstown - and will now play Somerset in the finals next week - you'd be hard-pressed to not talk about a few defensive gems.
"That was probably one of our best defensive plays this year," Szynal said after watching a big double play by his team in the fourth that killed a Johnstown inning with the Trojans down 1-0 at the time.
Grant Brandon opened with a single, and one out later, Sean McLean singled to center and Brandon headed home. However, Fluke got to the ball quickly, threw to the cutoff man - first baseman Eric Miller - who pegged out Brandon at home, thanks to the tag by catcher Reid Miller.
Hollidaysburg was not done yet, though, because Miller gunned down McLean who was trying to take second late on the throw home.
"You always teach your outfield to hit the cutoff man, and you really have to make two good throws for that to happen," Szynal said. "There is a lot in a play like that, and the awareness to throw down to second was big. I think that gave us some momentum."
With the Tigers up 5-0, Johnstown threatened again in the sixth inning. But Hollidaysburg got out the jam. Eric Miller made a nice play on a foul ball when he caught one for an out against the fence. The inning ended when third baseman Jordan McCall made a nice play on a hard grounder, stepping on the bag for the force to end the frame.
"This is [Miller's] first year at first base for us. To find the fence like that on that play was big," Szynal said.
Johnstown coach Dee Dee Osborne, who was coaching in his final game for the Trojans after 25 years at the helm, thought the fifth was a big inning for his club.
"When we loaded the bases that inning, I thought something would go our way," he said. "[Hollidaysburg's] a good team. We hung in there with them. The big hit, the big defensive play ... they didn't come our way and that's baseball."
Sell and Fluke both had two hits and drove in a run , batting in the Nos. 7 and 8 spots.
"Those guys would probably bat in other spots in the order on other teams," Szynal said. "We like to turn our lineup over sometimes, but we look for results no matter where you bat. This is a matter of different kids stepping up at different times."
Viduya pitched a complete game with nine strikeouts, two walks and three singles. He hit three batters, but that didn't seem to bother Szynal, and also worked out of two bases loaded jams.
"We talked about that in the dugout," Szynal said of the three HBP. His curveball got away from him a few times but he throws strikes. He is competitive. Sometimes we got out to talk to him. We look at his body language but our catcher [Reid Miller] kind of calms him down so we left him alone today."
Game notes: Somerset beat Huntingdon, 1-0, in the other semifinal. Somerset beat the Tigers during the regular season, 6-5, in extra innings. ... Brett Hileman and Kaleb Springer, two members of the Tigers team, are no longer on the roster. Szynal declined to comment on why they are no longer on the squad.
JOHNSTOWN (0): Updyke ss-p 301, Noon c 200, Sherman 3b 100, Jordan 2b 000, Brandon dh 301, Loboi p-ss 200, McLean 1b 20, Buchko lf 300, Eidem cf 200, Sprincz rf 200. Totals - 18-0-3.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (6): Sipes 2b 411, Urban ss 311, E. Miller 1b 300, Viduya p 000, Crum dh 211, R. Miller c 201, McCall 3b 300, Sell rf 312, Fluke cf 202, Russell lf 200, Glass cr-ph 020. Totals - 24-6-8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Johnstown000 000 0 - 0 3 2
Hollidaysburg010 221 X - 6 8 0
E-Eidem, Jordan. 2B-R. Miller, Sell. RBI-Crum, R. Miller, Sell, Fluke, Glass. SB - Sipes, Urban, Fluke, Updyke 2. HBP - Sprincz, Eidem, Loboi
JOHNSTOWN: Loboi 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER; 4 K 2 BB; Updyke 1 IP, 0R, 0ER; 0
HOLLIDAYSBURG: Viduya 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER; 9 K, 2 BB
Note: Loboi pitched to 2 batters in 6th.
Records: Hollidaysburg (15-5), Johnstown (7-13)