Whitehead pitches P-O into championship
SIDMAN — Giving up a solo home run right away is usually a sign that it’s not going to be a good afternoon for you.
Ryan Whitehead allowed a lead-off bomb to start, but otherwise, there was no getting to the Philipsburg-Osceola pitcher.
The sophomore struck out 13 batters as the No. 6 seeded Mounties pulled off a 6-1 upset over Forest Hills on Friday afternoon in the District 6 Class 3A semifinals at Forest Hills High School.
“I just know that my team was going to back me up no matter what I did on the mound today, and we came through,” Whitehead said. “We just kept rolling from there. We’re just happy to be here right now.”
Whitehead has now thrown four complete games this season and gave up just three hits — none following the home run by Jake Shope until the seventh inning.
This marks the first time that the Mounties defeated Forest Hills since May 21, 2003 — a 15-2 decision over the Rangers.
“That was as good as his curveball has been all year,” Philipsburg-Osceola coach Doug Sankey said. “He was able to throw that for strikes early in the count, and he was able to throw a little sharper curveball with two strikes.
“That was his best command of the curveball all year.”
The performance even caught the eye of Rangers head coach Robert Carpenter.
“We had a scouting a report that his ball was flat, his ball didn’t move,” he said. “Well, gosh it did, and it caused us a lot of issues.”
Keegan Soltis gave Philipsburg the lead for good thanks to a solo shot to left-center field, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead. That was just enough run support for Whitehead off of the Wake Forest-bound Forest Hills pitcher Adam Cecere.
“We do a machine work at the end of our practice,” Whitehead said. “We cranked that up yesterday. We were pretty well prepared there.”
Cecere, in his Rangers’ finale, went five innings, giving up just two runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
The Mounties put the game away in the sixth thanks to a four-run inning, powered by Trey Shaw’s two-run single.
“I knew we were going to face a good team, one of the higher seeds in our bracket,” he said. “We were ready for a good game.”
Carpenter felt the success Whitehead had against the middle of the lineup was what ultimately ended the Rangers’ season.
“You’re not winning many playoff games when your 3-4-5 hitters strike out seven times,” he said.
Next up for the Mounties is a trip to Altoona where they’ll have a chance to knock off the top seed in the bracket, Mount Union, at 1 p.m. Tuesday for the District 6 Class 3A championship. They haven’t met the Trojans since 2012 on the same stage and are seeking the program’s first district championship since 2007.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (6): McDonald 2b 410, Gustkey 1b 311, Soltis 3b 423, Shaw c 401, Slogosky cr 000, Dixon dh 402, Coudriet cr 000, Martin cf 000, J. Whitehead 401, R. Whitehead p 300, Jones rf 413, Kephart ss 300. Totals: 33-6-11-6.
FOREST HILLS (1): J Shope ss-p 3111, Richardson cf 3020, Cecere p-ss 3000, Rearick c 3000, Madigan rf 3000, Wolfhope lf 3010, Cornell ss 2010, Cobaugh 3b 3000, Cobaugh dh 2000, Hertlein 2b 3030. Totals: 24-1-3-1.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Philipsburg-Osceola 000 114 0 — 6 11 1
Forest Hills 100 000 0 — 1 3 1
E–Cornell, Kephart. RBI–Gustkey, Soltis 2, Shaw 2, Jones; Shope. 2B–J. Whithead, Soltis. HR–Shope, Soltis. HBP–Kephart, Shope.
Philipsburg-Osceola: Whitehead: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO.
Forest Hills: Cecere: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO. Shope: 2 IP 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO.
Records: Philipsburg-Osceola (15-7); Forest Hills (16-4).