ERA Sports uses pitching, defense to win Lowey crown
Riding its pitching and defense, the ERA Sports team closed its Altoona Teener Minor League season with a nine-game winning streak.
Those two items were the linchpins again Wednesday evening as ERA Sports captured the championship in the Lowey Division playoff tournament at Seitz Field.
Right-handers Jaxson Ferguson and Tucker Rossman combined on a four-hit shutout as third-seeded ERA Sports wrapped up a 4-0 showing in the playoffs with a 5-0 title victory over top-seeded Eldorado Kiwanis.
Ferguson pitched five scoreless innings, allowing four hits, striking out six batters, and walking none, while Rossman worked the final two shutout innings, allowing no hits, striking out five batters, and walking three.
ERA Sports also played errorless baseball in its championship-clinching win.
“Our hitting got hot late in the year and in the playoffs, when we won nine games in a row, but our pitching and defense has been the key for us,” said ERA Sports manager Cullen Sheehan, whose team posted a 13-7 regular-season record. “Jaxson Ferguson has been a consistently good performer for us, and he was throwing strikes and was lights out tonight. Tucker Rossman came in and battled through to close the game for us. He has also been a consistent pitcher all year.
“And we didn’t have any errors tonight, which is a great performance by a 13U team,” Sheehan said.
ERA Sports broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Ethan Karageanes, who served as an extra hitter and first baseman in the game, drew a leadoff walk, and shortstop Drew Wyland also walked, moving Karageanes to second base.
Karageanes advanced to third base and Wyland to second on a groundout by Baron Dionis. Rossman’s single to center scored Karageanes and Wyland and gave ERA Sports a 2-0 lead. Rossman went to second base on the throw to the plate, and eventually scored the third run of the inning on a single up the middle by Jadd Younes.
“It was nice to pull out into the lead and get a little breathing room,” Sheehan said. “Then we sort of maintained it.”
ERA Sports added another run in the fifth inning to take a 4-0 lead. Rossman walked, then wound up stealing three bases — including home.
ERA Sports added its fifth run in the bottom of the sixth inning when a sacrifice fly by Karageanes scored Mason Haramoto from third base. Haramoto reached base after being hit by a pitch, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Eldorado Kiwanis manager Cory Seymour, who also serves as the league president, was quick to give credit to the ERA Sports squad.
“They threw strikes, made all the easy plays, and many of the hard plays,” Seymour said of the ERA Sports team. “They played extremely well.”
Eldorado Kiwanis breezed through the regular season with a 16-4 record, and Seymour saluted his players for their effort in Wednesday’s decisive title game as well.
“I’m very proud of my young men,” Seymour said. “They were playing their third game in three days, but they didn’t give up. They fought until the very end.”
ERA Sports — which got two hits apiece from Rossman and Younes Wednesday — has a good mix of Blair County players from the Altoona, Hollidaysburg, and Spring Cove school districts on its roster, according to Sheehan.
“It was nice to see all of those kids get along and play well,” Sheehan said. “We had a rough patch this season where we lost four games in a row, but we persevered and won nine in a row. I saw a lot of improvement with these kids. They were a pleasure to coach.”
Game notes: Brennan Freiwald of the Gingrich Insurance team was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, while Isaiah Harvey of the J&P Auto Mart squad earned the league’s Sportsmanship Award.
ELDORADO KIWANIS (0): Hartman 3b-lf-p 301, Blough ss 200, Stiffler cf 301, Herman 2b-EH-c 300, Webster 2b 100, LaRocco p-1b 300, Levri EH-rf-lf 200, Stiver rf 100, Hofer 1b-3b 301, Hostler lf-p-EH 201, Steinbugl c 100, Moser ph-rf 100. Totals — 26-0-4.
ERA SPORTS (5): Wyland ss 210, Dionis cf-lf 300, Rossman 3b-p 222, Eberhart 2b 200, Sheehan 1b-3b 301, Younes lf 202, Ferguson p-lf 301, Lafferty rf 000, Brown rf 100, Haramoto rf-lf-EH 110, Pratt c 300, Karageanes EH-1b 110. Totals — 23-5-6.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Eldorado Kiwanis 000 000 0–0 4 0
ERA Sports 003 011 X–5 6 0
RBI–Rossman 2, Younes, Karageanes. SAC–Lafferty. SF–Karageanes. SB–Stiffler, Hostler, Rossman 3, Wyland, Enerhart, Dionis, Haramoto, Karageanes. HBP–Blough by Rossman; Haramoto by Hartman. LOB–Eldorado Kiwanis 9, ERA Sports 8. WP–Ferguson. LP–LaRocco. SO–Ferguson 6, Rossman 5, Hostler 2, Hartman 1. BB–Rossman 3, LaRocco 3, Hostler 2, Hartman 1.
Tournament records: Eldorado Kiwanis (3-2); ERA Sports (4-0).
Umpires: Sam Patton (plate); Shawn Feathers (first base); Marty Martynuska (third base).