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BEA rallies to oust P-O

MILESBURG — Hard as the 8-4 loss to arch-rival Bald Eagle Area was to swallow, Philipsburg-Osceola softball coach Jim Gonder had one small consolation: He’s going to be eating well.

Gonder and BEA coach Don Lucas are good friends, and they wagered dinner on the game with the winner buying.

“I don’t know where we’re going, but I know he’ll pick some place expensive,” Lucas said with a smile. “It’s going to cost me a lot of money.”

Lucas will happily pick up the check since the win in the District 5-6 Class 3A semifinals puts the Lady Eagles in the finals on Wednesday at Saint Francis University against Chestnut Ridge. And more importantly, it guarantees BEA will advance into the PIAA playoffs.

And while the run-differential is unusual since these two teams usually play one-run games, the game was still a nail-biter until the sixth inning when BEA scored six runs to break it open.

BEA owned a 2-0 lead heading into the sixth thanks to solo homers by Maralee Caldana and Maegan King in the second and fourth innings, respectively.

But in the top of the sixth the Mountie bats got to BEA starter Maddie Peters. London Cutler doubled down the left field line to start the inning, and Kendra Carns followed with a single. Jordan McDonald drove both runners home with a double to center, and Hannah Minarchick was hit by a pitch as McDonald moved to third. Kam Harris followed with a line drive out to center, scoring McDonald with the go-ahead run. But Peters got Roselyn Weaver to ground out to third to get out of further trouble.

After King’s homer in the fourth Gonder pulled starter Kylie Adams and brought in Harris, who had been the P-O starter most of the year.

“We started Kylie because they had seen Kam so many times the last couple of years,” Gonder said. “And other than the two pitches that flattened out (for home runs), I thought she pitched well.”

Harris shut down the BEA bats in the first two innings she pitched, retiring six straight batters. Then the BEA bats woke up.

Makenna Baney started off the sixth with a line drive single past a diving Cutler at short, and Mara Hockenberry doubled just inside the left-field line to put runners at second and third. Gonder walked Caldana to load the bases, but Madison Peters drew a walk to force in a run. Then King, who drove in the winning run against Penn Cambria Monday night, and Harris hooked up in a 10-pitch duel that ended with King doubling to left to push the BEA lead to 5-3.

“I just kept fouling it off until I got the pitch I wanted,” said King, who splits the catching duties with Caldana.

BEA kept the rally going when, with runners on second and third and one out, Lucas called for the suicide squeeze, and Tobias laid down a perfect bun allowing courtesy runner Madison Fisher to score from third. Madison Perry drove in the final run with a fly to center to drive in courtesy runner Brynne Bisel.

“Hats off to their hitters,” Gonder said. “I thought we were in good shape with a 3-2 lead and our ace on the mound. But they did things that are difficult to stop”

Lucas pointed to King’s 10-pitch at-bat as being one of the keys to the outburst.

“That wears a pitcher down,” he said. “Then the pitch count starts going up, and then when she hit that double it takes away your momentum.

Tobias’ successful squeeze expanded the BEA lead to 6-3. It’s one of Lucas’ signature plays.

“We practiced that all year,” he said. “Anyone who knows me knows I’ll bunt on any count.”

Now the Lady Eagles, who are 18-4, are headed for the finals, but before then Lucas will savor this win over his friend.

“Any time you beat a Jim Gonder team it’s an accomplishment,” he said. “He always puts such a good team on the field.”

Harris wound up taking the loss, giving up five runs. Peters won it, allowing five hits, four runs and striking out five while walking no one. Hockenberry and King had two hits apiece for BEA, while McDonald had two hits for P-O. Rachel Simpson had a solo homer in the seventh to account for P-Os final run.

PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (4): McDonald 2b 312, Minarchick lf 200, Harris p-dp 200, Weaver 1b 300, Lucas rf 300, Adams p-1f 300, Simpson 3b 311. Kephart ph 100, Cutler ss 100, Jarett ph 211, Carns cf 201, Greenawalt pr 010, Lewis c 000. Totals — 24 4 5.

BALD EAGLE AREA (8): Baney lf 411, Hockenberry 312, Caldana c-dp 111, Hillgar cr 010, Peters p 200, Fisher cr 000, Bisel pr 010, King dp-c 312, Bisel cr 000, Tobias 3b 311, Perry ss 200, Kinley 2b 200, Bucha pr 000, Eckley rf 300, Fisher 1b 000. Totals –24 8 8

SCORE BY INNIINGS

Philipsburg-Osceola 000 003 1 — 4 5 0

Bald Eagle Area 010 106 x — 8 8 0

2B–King, Hockenberry, Jarett, McDonald; HR–Caldana, King, Simpson, RBI–King 3, Tobias, Perry, Peters, Caldana, Hockenberry; SF–Perry; LOB–BEA 2, P-O 2; SB–Caldana.

PITCHING

PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA

Adams, 3 IP, 4 H, 3R, 1 BB, 5 SO

Harris (L), 3IP,4 H, 5R, 3R,

BALD EAGLE AREA

Peters (W), 7 IP, 5H, 4R, 0 BB, 5 SO.

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