PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT/D9) – Tate Minich has only pitched a handful of innings in his baseball career.
(Photo by Madison McFarland)
But here he was, a first-team, all-KSAC catcher, with the ball in his right hand on the mound in the bottom of the seventh with the game on the line.
“I was nervous,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie.”
Minich didn’t show it.
The junior got a strikeout and fly out to center, then ended the game with another strikeout to secure a 3-2 win by Redbank Valley over Karns City Thursday evening at Punxsutawney.
The final out sent the Bulldogs into celebration.
And to the District 9 Class 2A championship game.
“I’m not really a pitcher,” Minich said. “I think I’ve thrown like three innings in three years. (Redbank Valley baseball coach Craig Hibell) has trust in me, and so does the rest of the team. I knew that.”
Minich wouldn’t have even gotten the chance to get the biggest save of his career were it not for a rally in the top of the seventh.
Karns City starting pitched Cole Sherwin was putting up zeros and frustrating Redbank Valley, which had nine hits but no runs to show for it through six innings.
The Gremlins finally broke the stalemate with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning against Bulldog starter Ty Carrier.
The first run came in on a double-play groundout by Braden Grossman and the second on a RBI single by Braeden Rodgers.
It stayed like that until the top of the seventh.
“We were stranding runners on base all night,” Minich said. “We felt like were ready to break things open. Coach pulled us together in the dugout and brought our morale back up.”
Peyton Rearick led off the inning with a walk and then scored on a triple by Owen Clouse to cut the lead to 2-1.
Clouse then scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Hetrick to tie the game.
Minich followed with a single to chase Sherwin.
After a fly out by Bain for the second out against Mike Neff, Minich stole second and scored on a single by his younger cousin, Breckin Minich to put the Bulldogs up 3-2.
“After Tyler drove in that run with the sac fly, I kind of had to lead things off again and ended up getting on first and stealing second,” Tate Minich said. “Just to have my younger cousin hit me in was pretty cool.”
Carrier got the win, striking out three, walking one and giving up two runs in six hits in six innings.
Minich needed just 13 pitches – nine for strikes – to earn the save.
Sherwin got the loss. He danced out of trouble all game to go 6 1/3 innings, giving up 10 hits and three runs while striking out two and walking three.
Redbank Valley (11-5) will play Johnsonburg (14-3) for the district title Monday at Showers Field at a time yet to be determined.
It’s a chance for the Bulldogs to cap off an exceptional sports season.
The football team won a district title. So did the girls basketball team in the winter and the girls track and field team this spring. Now the baseball team is gunning for an elusive one.
“Our football team has been really successful over the past couple of years and baseball just hasn’t been able to get the job done,” Minich said. “We’re been playing together a whole lot, so for us to be in the district title game and get a chance to put our 2022 championship banner up at the gym really means a lot.”
JOHNSONBURG 11, BROOKVILLE 4 – Aiden Zimmerman had four hits and the Rams scored four times in the bottom of the first on the way to a win over the Raiders in the Class 2A semifinals.
Zimmerman also scored three runs for Johnsonburg.
Collin Porter earned the win, allowing four runs on five hits and striking out two over six innings.
Bryce Rafferty hit a two-run homer for Brooville.
Jameson Rhoades got the loss for the Raiders.
Clarion-Limestone scored once in the top of the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie and then broke it open with four runs in the top of the seventh for a 7-2 win over Clarion in the Class A semifinals at Showers Field in DuBois.
Tommy Smith drove in Logan Lutz with what would be the winning run in the top of the sixth inning and Jake Smith capped off his big day with a two-run single in the seventh for C-L.
Tommy Smith was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Corbin Coulson also drove in two runs with a double and Lutz and Jase Ferguson also doubled for the Lions.
Bryson Huwar, who started the quarterfinal game for Clarion-Limestone, started again against Clarion Thursday. He went six innings to get the win. It wasn’t his sharpest outing of the year, but he got the job done, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out two and walking five.
Tommy Smith closed out the game with a scoreless inning.
Devon Lauer got the loss in relief for Clarion. Derek Smail started the game, lasting four innings for a no decision for the Bobcats.
Clarion-Limestone will play DuBois Central Catholic for the Class A title Monday at Showers Field at a time yet to be determined.
DuBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 9, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 4 – A six-run third inning turned a 3-1 deficit into a 7-3 lead as the Cardinals punched their ticket to the Class A title game.
A two-run triple by Brayden Fox opened the flood gates for DuBois Central Catholic in the third. Fox then scored what would be the winning run on a single by Carter Hickman.
Fox was 2-for-3 with three RBI. Kaden Brezenski homered and drove in three to lead the Cardinals at the plate.
Hickman picked up the win, giving up four runs – one earned – on four hits in five innings. He struck out four and also walked four.
Cole Sansom pitched two perfect innings, striking out six, to shut the door for DCC.
Aiden Snowberger went 3-for-3 for the Cardinals, who had 12 hits.