In the District 9 Class A baseball semifinals Tuesday, top-seeded Oswayo Valley and third-seeded DuBois Central Catholic advanced to Thursday’s title games with victories.Recaps of those games follow.
DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 4, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 2
BROCKWAY, Pa. – With the game on the line and his legs tiring, DuBois Central Catholic’s Jake Miknis dug deep and found something extra to strikeout Elk County Catholic’s Ryan Heary with the tying run at first to preserve DCC’s first trip to the District 9 Class A championship game since 2002 with a 4-2 win at Brockway High School.
“That was a heck of a ballgame,” DCC manager Andy Sayers said. “Jake Miknis, I think, earned player of the year honors. He was player of the year in the conference. I told him when he went to the mound today he was getting the ball today because he’s the best we got. And he proved that.
“They started to get to him. His pitch count was up. But he dug deep, bared down, and he got it. He what we needed him to do today.”
DCC (16-2), the third seed, led 4-0 going to the bottom of the seventh against the second-seeded Crusaders (19-3), who were looking for their sixth trip to the finals in seven seasons, before ECC rallied to score twice against a tiring Miknis.
But following a run-producing single by Ross Brennen, Miknis got a called strike one before getting Heary, who struck out three times against the DCC ace who is headed to St. Bonaventure next season, to foul off the second pitch for strike two. He then froze Heary to send DCC, which is looking for its first title since the Mike Milliron/Rocky Davis led Cardinals won the 2001 PIAA title, to the title game.
DCC gave Miknis, who allowed two earned on eight hits, three of them in the seventh inning, while striking out five, a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the fourth inning.
A fielding error with two outs on second baseman Nate DaCanal scored the first Cardinals run, and a base hit by Justin Miknis, Jake’s freshman brother, that plated Nick Szczerba. Michael Misiewicz was thrown out at the plate to end the inning trying to score on the base hit.
The Cardinals then added another run in the sixth when a Justin Miknis groundout scored Brandon Walker, who had singled to start the inning. Another ECC error, this one on Brennen, the third baseman, aided the DCC cause.
DCC then practically stole a run in the seventh when Jake Miknis was hit by a pitch leading off.
Thomas Grecco then lined a single to center that centerfielder Jared Braun misplayed with Miknis going to third and Grecco heading to second. Grecco then got himself caught up in a rundown allowing Miknis to score to make it 4-0.
“Jake stole an extra run home because he’s a good base runner,” Sayers said. “He’s just a good baseball player.”
ECC, which two years ago rallied past DCC in the semifinals late on its way to the PIAA title game, tried to replicate that feat again with a rally that started with one out in the seventh.
The No. 9 hitter Eric Gerber singled with one out, but his pinch runner, Jordan Nasoni, was erased at second on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Brad Dippold, who was safe at first.
Down to its last out, ECC got a single from Connor O’Leary followed by a wild pitch to put runners at second and third. Dan Stauffer then singled home the Crusaders first run before another single, this time from Brennen, made it 4-2.
Miknis talks about getting the win and finding something extra at the end of the game.
Justin Miknis finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs for DCC, the lone Cardinals player with more than one hit.
Stauffer was 2-for-4 for ECC with an RBI, while Gerber was 2-for-3.
Brennen took the loss going four innings allowing two unearned runs on six hits. Gabe Kraus then gave up two unearned runs on two hits and a walk while striking out one in three innings of work.
“Hats off to Elk County,” Sayers said of the team his squad beat two out of three times this year. “They are a good opponent. They are stingy. Ross Brennen has given us fits for a couple of years. This year, we were able to solve him a little bit more. We got key hits today. We made some adjustments when we had to.”
DCC will meet defending champion Oswayo Valley at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Berwind Park in St. Marys for the District 9 title. Both teams have advanced to the PIAA playoffs.
“The kids have worked hard,” Sayers said. “They are a good team. We ask them to push themselves a little bit more each game and get a little bit better. It’s coming together. I sense a lot of energy on this team. Other years past, when we lost in the semis, you sense that they are tired. This team has different kind of energy that I’ve picked up on. I’m real proud of them. We’re proud of them. It’s a good group.”
OSWAYO VALLEY 10, COUDERSPORT 0, 5 INNINGS
ST. MARYS, Pa. – Prior to last year, the Oswayo Valley baseball program had never been to a District 9 title game.
Fast forward a year, and the Green Wave are in position to win back-to-back District 9 Class A titles after rolling past rival Coudersport, 10-0, in five innings in the semifinals Tuesday afternoon at Berwind Park in St. Marys.
“We played a complete game tonight,” Oswayo Valley head coach Brad Buchholz said. “Alex Bernard had a great game at the plate. When you get four RBIs out of your six-hole, things are probably going pretty well. They pitched careful to our three and four hitters, and the rest of the lineup made them pay. Hitting one through nine this year has been key to our success.”
Oswayo’s offense, as it has been most of the year, was on fire with 10 hits against three different Coudersport pitchers led by Bernard, who was 2-for-3 with a double and the four RBIs.
Bernard’s two-run single in the second gave the Green Wave a 2-0 lead, and Oswayo Valley added four more runs in the third before chasing Coudersport’ starter Navada Waterman one out into the fourth, an inning that saw Oswayo plate four more runs to take a 10-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Coudersport’s offense was having difficulty against Oswayo Valley reliever Garren Black, who relieved starter Brandon Brabham after Brabham gave up back-to-back hits to Waterman, a double, and Josh Stevens, a single, leading off the game.
But those were the only hits the Falcons mustered, as Black gave up just two walks while striking out four in five innings of work to get the win.
“Garren pitched really well,” Buchholz said. “We pulled Brandon after two batters not because of something he did wrong but because Garren has really shut Coudy down in our three meetings this year.”
Brabham contributed to the victory at the plate going 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Black was 1-for-1 with a two-run single in the fourth and three runs scored. Also for the Green Wave, Garret Babcock was 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the fourth and two runs scored, and Gage Babcock was 2-for-3.
Waterman, fresh of his gem in the quarterfinals over Clarion, allowed eight runs, six earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out three in 3 ⅓ innings of work. Austen Saulter had no luck in relief allowing three hits to the three batters he faced while being charged with two runs. Elliott Hite gave up one hit and no runs in ⅔ of an inning.
Oswayo, trying to become the first back-to-back Class A champion since Elk County Catholic in 2013 and 2014 and the first public school to win back-to-back Class A titles in the four-classification-era (2004 to present), is 22-0 on the season. Coudersport finished the year 17-4.
The Green Wave will play DuBois Central Catholic in the title game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Berwind Park. The last Class A public school to win two straight titles was Clarion-Limestone, which won three in a row from 2002 to 2004 when there were three baseball classifications.