PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. — Batting around and scoring four runs in the fourth inning, Bishop McCort’s decisive rally helped it pull away for a 5-2 win over Elk County Catholic in Thursday’s PIAA Class 1A quarterfinals at Kuntz Field.
The Crusaders’ season ends at 16-9 while the District 6 champion Crimson Crushers take their 17-7 record into Monday’s semifinal matchup with West Middlesex at a site and time to be announced.
The playoff run was a memorable one for the Crusaders, who won the District 9 title as the No. 5 seed, then walked off a win against Vincentian on Monday in their state opener.
“I wasn’t worried about being the No. 5 seed. It was more about our rotation and getting people healthy and getting into position to be in the playoffs,” Crusaders head coach James Slay said. “That worked out to our favor, but I’m more proud of the team and what they accomplished during the season than just dwelling on this outcome. If we use this game as the one that defines our season, we’re missing the point. I’m proud of the boys. I wish we could play more baseball, but we ended on the wrong Thursday.”
Next Thursday is the state final at Penn State University.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Slay said. “It’s never OK to lose a game in which we felt we could compete, but I have players I will know for a lifetime and that’s more valuable to me.”
McCort scored its first run in the second inning on a two-out wild pitch, then the Crusaders tied it in the top of the third when Dan Wimer singled in Alec Wehler with two outs in the third inning. Wehler hit his first of two doubles with two outs to start the rally.
But in the fourth, the Crushers pulled away with four runs as they greeted Crusaders starter Hunter Cashmer with four straight hits. Nick McGowan blasted a shot high off the center field fence, went to third on Leech’s single and scored on Jordan Page’s single. Joe Staib’s bunt got through the right side of the Crusaders’ infield coverage and rolled through the infield as courtesy runner Leis scored.
Two more runs came home on a groundout and Cameron Bunn sacrifice fly, putting the Crushers up 5-1.
Despite doing a remarkable job of running up the pitch count of McCort lefty starter Matt Mosholder, the Crusaders couldn’t bunch enough hits together to get much more going even though they put runners on base in every inning.i
Mosholder threw 64 pitches in the first two innings alone, yet the Crusaders didn’t score a run. Two runners getting thrown out on the bases — Tylor Herzing trying to advance to third on Will Uberti’s single for the first out of the first inning and Wimer was nailed at second trying to advance after his RBI single int he third.
Mosholder wound up getting through five innings on 107 pitches, giving up four hits and four walks with eight strikeouts. Sam Newcomer threw the final two innings, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out one.
The Crusaders scored their other run in the sixth inning. Wimer and Brennan Klawuhn greeted Newcomer by drawing walks. Isaac Brock bunted them over and Alex Fedus’ sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Jordan DePrator.
In the seventh, the Crusaders put two runners on base with infield singles from Herzing and Cashmer, but Newcomer got Wimer to ground out to third base to end the game.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of this season,” Slay said. “Unfortunately, the boys may remember this game and lose sight of the season and that’s what I really tried to stress after the game. This game didn’t define who they are or our team. I’m happy. I’m disappointed, but happy.”
Cashmer went 3 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and two walks while striking out four to take the loss on the mound for the Crusaders. Brady Schneider got the final out of the fourth and finished things out on the mound, going 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief with two walks and two strikeouts.
BISHOP McCORT 5, ELK CO. CATHOLIC 2
SCORE BY INNINGS
Elk Co. Catholic 001 001 0 — 2
Bishop McCort 010 400 x — 5
Elk Co. Catholic – 2
Tylor Herzing rf 3010, Will Uberti cf 4010, Alec Wehler ss 4120, Hunter Cashmer p 2010, Tom Slay cr 0000, Brady Schneider p 1000, Dan Wimer dh 3011, Jordan DePrator cr 0100, Bryce O’Leary 2b 0000, Brennan Klawuhn c 2000, Isaac Brock 3b 0000, Alex Fedus 1b 1001, Ryan Fritz lf 3000. Totals: 23-2-6-2.
Bishop McCort – 5
Will Miller cf 2000, Cameron Bunn 2b 3011, Zach Ramach ss 4010, Brendan Bair 1b 3000, Nick McGowan dh 3110, Matt Mosholder p 0000, Sam Newcomer p 0000, Hunter Leech c 2010, Keegan Leis cr 0200, Jordan Page lf 3111, Joe Staib rf 2111, Cole Bradley 3b 2001, Zach Markley pr 0000. Totals: 24-5-6-4.
Errors: Bishop McCort 1, ECC 1. DP: Bishop McCort. LOB: ECC 9, Bishop McCort 7. 2B: McGowan, Wehler 2. SAC: Bunn, Brock, Fedus. SB: Bunn, Ramach, Leis. HBP: Leech (by Cashmer), Cashmer (by Mosholder).
Cashmer 3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Schneider 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Mosholder 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K
Newcomer 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
Winning pitcher: Matt Mosholder.
Losing pitcher: Hunter Cashmer.
Save: Sam Newcomer.