BEDFORD, Pa. – They are just happy to still be playing baseball.
That’s what Punxsutawney’s Jake Sikora said after he tossed a five-inning one-hitter and hit a home run during a decisive 11-run fifth inning that lifted the Chucks to the District 5-9 Class 3A championship with a 15-0, five-inning win over Chestnut Ridge Tuesday afternoon at Bedford High School.
“We are just happy,” Sikora, who was named the Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Game, said. “We are so happy to be out here playing baseball still. It is our last year as seniors, and we are just so excited to keep going.”
Rewatch the game
Sikora allowed the first batter he faced, Justin Whysong, to single up the middle against him and then hit the third guy he faced, Garrett Emerick before proceeding to retire 14 of the final 16 batters he faced with the only two blemishes being a one-out walk in the third and a leadoff walk in the fifth.
The senior right-hander had a stretch from the first inning through the fourth inning where he recorded seven straight outs via strikeout. He finished the contest with 10 punchouts.
Watch Sikora strikeout Cole Nicodemus with runners at the corners in the first inning
“My fastball, I could really put in on the inside corner which was helping me a lot,” Sikora answered when asked what was working best for him. “And my curveball, after bringing it up out of the dirt, it helped a lot.”
Sikora took the mound already leading 2-0, as the Chucks scored twice in the top of the first thanks to a leadoff triple by Zach Dinger – Dinger added a double and was also hit by a pitch – followed by an RBI single by Josh Tyger, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Tyger came around to score when Carter Savage’s groundball stuck under the glove of shortstop Christian Hinson.
Watch Dinger’s leadoff triple
The game remained 2-0 until the third when the Chucks used another leadoff triple, this time by Nevin Day, who was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, and two RBIs, to get a two-run inning started again.
Watch Day’s leadoff triple in the third
Day scored on a Savage ground out, and Sikora followed by drawing a walk. His courtesy runner, Owen Wood, came home to score on a safety squeeze by Zeke Bennett.
While the four-run lead was fairly comfortable the way Sikora was pitching, the Chucks made sure there was no late-inning stress on their ace by scoring 11 runs in the fifth inning when they sent 16 batters to the plate and had nine hits.
Savage got the inning started with a home run to left field that brought Chesnut Ridge manager Steve Conlon out of the dugout to argue that the ball hit the top of the very tall left-field fence and not the tree branch behind it to no avail.
Watch the swing that produced the Savage home run
Day added a two-run double in the inning, and then Sikora really put the capper on the inning when he launched a no-doubt-about-it three-run homer over the left-center field fence to put Punxsutawney ahead, 14-0.
“Honestly, I didn’t know if it was going to be a flyout or a home run,” Sikora said. “I just got a little under it and it went the whole way.”
Watch Sikora’s home run
Punxsutawney will now face the WPIAL runner-up in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs Monday, June 5. Riverside takes on Neshannock in the WPIAL title game Wednesday.
“The next one is always the hardest, the first round of the state playoffs,” Punxsutawney manager Mike Dickey said. “We will be ready to battle.”
Sikora finished the day 2-for-3 at the plate with the home run, a walk, a run scored, and three RBIs with Wood, his courtesy runner, also scoring twice.
Justin Miller was also 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Emerrick took the loss going four-plus inning allowing six runs, all earned, on seven hits and two walks while striking out three.
CLASS 4A D6-8-9 SUBREGIONAL SEMIFINAL
ST. MARYS 10,CARRICK 2
DUBOIS, Pa. – St. Marys is peaking at the right time.
Rewatch the game:
A 6-run fifth inning helped the Dutchmen pull away for a 10-2 win against District 8’s Carrick in the Class 4A 6-8-9 subregional on Tuesday.
The win sets up a date with Bellefonte on Thursday (5:30 p.m. back at Showers Field) for the right to go to the state tournament.
“We were ready today,” said Carter Price, who was 3-for-3 with two doubles. “We’ve been grinding at practice. It feels pretty good.”
See Price’s full interview:
Price drew a bases-loaded walk in the big fifth inning, part of a 3-for-3 effort that saw him hit a pair of doubles and score a pair of runs.
“He was throwing me a lot of curveballs and all week I’ve been working on curveballs, sitting back and driving them to right field,” Price said. “I ended up pulling one to left and one to center. It’s all about team effort.”
The Dutchmen also took advantage of Carrick’s miscues, as the Raiders committed four of their five errors in the inning.
St. Marys got on the board first on a bizarre play in the third inning, as Charlie Coudriet walked and Ben Paul, who was on second, never stopped and raced all the way home. Tyson Beimel and Lucas Bauer, who reached on a fielder’s choice and a walk, both got caught in a rundown in what ultimately turned into two outs for Carrick.
The Raiders rallied to take the lead in the fourth on No. 9 hitter Eli Wittman’s 2-run single.
St. Marys responded, getting the two runs right back in the bottom half of the inning on RBI singles by Eli Rippey and Paul.
In the big fifth inning, the Dutchmen also took advantage of a pair of walks issued by Carrick starter Nathan Weinmann, and got RBI groundouts from Carter Redmond and Paul.
Bauer went two scoreless innings and gave way to Coudriet, who was credited with the win, allowing two runs on five hits in five innings, striking out five, and walking one.
“They were good,” Price said of Bauer and Coudriet. “Lucas Bauer he’s been pitching really good. Charlie’s been our pitcher since we were nine years old so I knew we were good.”
In addition to Price’s three hits, Paul and Vinnie Lenze had two each.
Weinmann took the loss, allowing seven runs (four earned) in 4 ⅓ innings on seven hits, striking out one and walking five.
The winner of the St. Marys-Bellefonte game will advance to the first round of PIAAs on Monday, June 5 against WPIAL runner-up Greater Latrobe.
“We put our time in,” Price said. “We had practice at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday at 10 … we just want it. We’re working hard and staying positive.”