PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT/D9) – With the bases loaded and Kane making a pitching change, Braden Grossman walked over to Karns City head baseball coach Josh “Sluggo” Smith, who is also the third base coach.
Smith gave Grossman some simple advice.
(Above, Braden Grossman beats out a single against Clarion-Limestone earlier this season/photo by Diane Lutz)
“Hey, just put a good swing on it,” the coach said. “Hit it hard into the outfield somewhere.”
Grossman nodded, dug in the box and did just that, delivering a walk-off, RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to give the Gremlins a dramatic 4-3 win in the first round of the District 9 Class 2A playoffs Tuesday evening.
“I got a good pitch that I could get out into the outfield to be able to get that run in,” Grossman said. “I got a good pitch to hit. Whenever you make good contact like that, you know. It was a good feeling to help get a win for this team.”
Karns City (13-5) has been dealing with injuries to some key players.
Mallick Metcalfe has battled a sore hamstring for much of the season. Cole Sherwin is dealing with shoulder discomfort.
Both were called upon to gut it out on the mound against Kane.
Metcalfe went six innings, striking out six and walking just one. He gave up three runs, two earned, and nine hits.
Sherwin got the win, shutting down Kane in his one inning of work.
Metcalfe singled and also beat out a ground ball that was ruled an error in the bottom of the seventh inning. Sherwin, who scored the winning run, also singled earlier in the game and drew a key walk in the pivotal final frame to get the rally started.
“Injuries have been a pretty tough factor for us this year,” Grossman said. “Cole hurt his shoulder recently and Mallick has had a hamstring. Those two guys are very important to our team. To go into the playoffs knowing those guys are still a little banged up with those injuries and still able to push through really helps us all realize they are in it for the long run, and they want to help us win.”
Kane (9-6) struck first with a run in the top of the second inning on a RBI single by Elijah Everett.
Karns City broke through with three runs in the bottom of the third.
Michael Neff, who has been one of the hottest hitters in the district over the final few weeks of the season, delivered a RBI single, Lathan Price scored on a wild pitch and Tyler Hutchison knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice groundout.
The Gremlins held on to that 3-1 lead until the top of the sixth when Kane scored twice to tie it.
Luke Ely made it 3-2 with a RBI single that scored Andy Jekielek, who went 3-for-4 in the game. The Wolves then knotted the game at 3-3 on an error.
“A couple of things got away from us,” Smith said. “We made some errors, but we found a way to get guys on base and the last guy came up with a big hit.”
Harley Morris got the start for Kane, going six innings. He struck out seven and got a no-decision.
Justin Peterson got the loss, getting just one out in the seventh. Jekielek relieved him to face Grossman.
Karns City will play Redbank Valley at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals at Punxsutawney.
“This is a good win for us, but we didn’t play our best,” Grossman said. “We can celebrate tonight, but by tomorrow we need to be ready to get to work and prepare for Thursday.”
BROOKVILLE 4, MONITEAU 2 – In the matinee at Punxsutawney, Hunter Geer won the battle of aces.
Geer, who came into the game sporting a 5-0 record with a 3.12 ERA, cruised to a complete-game win, giving up two runs, one earned, and striking out six in seven innings.
Moniteau’s ace, Branson Carson, also pitched well enough to win, fanning seven in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs, two earned.
Moniteau (12-6) led 1-0 after three innings thanks to a RBI single by Brock Matthews. Brookville tied it in the top of the fourth on a RBI double by Bryce Rafferty and moved ahead 2-1 in the top of the fifth on a run-scoring single by Jamison Rhoades.
The Raiders (10-8) tacked on another run in the top of the sixth when Geer scored on a wild pitch.
Moniteau got a run back in the bottom of the sixth when Carson doubled and Jakob Obman scored on a throwing error, but Geer was able to get out of that trouble with a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a groundout and then got a strikeout and two fly outs around an error in the seventh to get the win.
Keagan Book and Obman each doubled for the Warriors.
Brookville will play Johnsonburg at 3 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals at Stern Field.
REDBANK VALLEY 6, CURWENSVILLE 1 – Bryson Bain gave up just one run and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings, Owen Clouse doubled twice and Ty Carrier drove in a pair of runs to lead the Bulldogs to a first-round playoff win.
Redbank Valley (11-5) wasted little time. The Bulldogs scored three in the top of the first inning on a Tyler Hetrick RBI double and two-run single by Carrier.
Redbank went up 4-0 in the top of the second on an error.
That was more than enough for Bain, who overcame five walks.
Carrier came in and got the final two outs to secure the victory.
Jake Mullins got the loss for the Golden Tide. He gave up five runs, but only one was earned, in five innings of work. He struck out five.
Curwensville (14-6) could only manage four singles at the plate in the loss
JOHNSONBURG 11, PORT ALLEGANY 1 – Luke Zimmerman homered, doubled and drove in four runs and Domenic Allegretto went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs to lead the Rams’ 13-hit attack in a five-inning victory.
Camron Marciniak and Caden Smiley also had multi-hit days for Johnsonburg (14-3).
Zimmerman picked up the win on the hill, striking out six in three innings of work. Allegretto worked the final two innings, fanning three.
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 12, SMETHPORT 2 – The Crusaders saved the best for the final innings.
Down 2-1, Elk County Catholic put up eight runs in the fifth inning and three more in the sixth to trigger a mercy-rule win.
The Crusaders will play DuBois Central Catholic in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Brockway.