Local team shines on grandest of stages
By Neil Rudel
BRISTOL, Conn. — Hollidaysburg is advancing to the Little League World Series — a first for any Blair County team — and boy is it ever deserving.
The little guys from the county seat punched their ticket Friday in decisive fashion by beating Delaware, 7-3, to win the Mid-Atlantic Regional at the plush Bart Giamatti Training Complex.
While other states didn’t have to negotiate the same number of statewide qualifiers, Hollidaysburg has been playing for nearly a month, winning four tournaments with the same formula — grit, belief, fundamentals, resiliency and a well-coached operation.
“They know they’re one team together — 11 strong,” manager Jim McGough said. “They know whatever point in time, when their name is called, they want to deliver for their team.”
And deliver they did.
For the regional, Hollidaysburg went 3-1 and outscored its opponents 31-11 — 20-3 in the last two games.
That’s after winning five straight games to redact an opening loss in the Pennsylvania tournament.
“It’s the character of the team,” McGough said.
You’ve heard the saying there’s no I in team? In this one, there isn’t.
Every player made a positive contribution.
Chase Link was a big bopper with homers on Tuesday and Thursday and played everywhere, and Caleb Detrick was a monster in the regional final, going 4-for-4 with four RBIs.
Catcher Braden Hatch was a defensive leader who also set up two wins with quality starting pitching performances.
Ty McGough came up huge in relief Friday and was a solid leadoff batter all week.
Aspen Anderson was outstanding in relief earlier in the week while Jackson Boob and Alex Dively provided big, timely hits.
Nate Phillips, Beau Rabel, Brody Dull and Easton Metzger each advanced runners, played good defense and contributed versatility.
Everyone hit, and pitching options were plenty.
The team made plays and didn’t beat itself while McGough and fellow coach Brad Hatch seemingly pulled every string.
“The game we lost to Delaware (Tuesday) wasn’t the best performance, but these last two games are some of the best baseball we’ve ever played,” Link said. “We did the exact same thing at states, and that pushed us to want to win even more.”
They weren’t even shaken by being on ESPN all week.
“There still were a little bit of nerves, but at the end of the day we have to come into the game with confidence and swagger — knowing we can win,” Braden Hatch said.
Though they’re only 12 years old, the players are aware of the platform they’ve reached and how they’ve done it – as one.
“A lot of kids are going to start looking up to us,” Link said. “And they’ll want to be in the same place we are and inspired to do the same thing.”
And for the 2022 Hollidaysburg Little League all-stars, that is the greatest legacy of all.
Rudel can be reached at 814-946-7527 or email@example.com.