P-O eliminated from playoffs|
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK - Philipsburg-Osceola clean-up hitter Kate Burge let the Lady Mountie faithful breathe with a game-tying RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning of Tuesday's first round PIAA game against Neshannock at Penn State University's Beard Field.
The Lady Lancers' Rayanna Furst took their breath away again, however, a half an inning later and ended P-O's hopes of defending its state title with one swing of the bat.
Furst's 2-ball, 2-strike double to the left-center field gap plated the game-winning runs with two outs in the eighth, as Neshannock advanced to Thursday's quarterfinal round for the first time in school history with a 5-3 win.
P-O, the District 6 champions, ended its season with a record of 20-5.
"I think their game plan is to put pressure on the defense, and they did that," said Lady Mounties head coach Jim Gonder. "They did it very effectively and you have to give them a lot of credit, too.
"I'm happy with some of the things that happened in the game. A couple of times we came back from a run down and scored. Unfortunately, they got two at the end that we didn't get a chance to come back from."
Kate Burge retired the first hitter she faced in the top of the eighth, but the first of two Lady Mountie errors in the frame prolonged the inning, which their junior hurler should have gotten out of unscathed.
With a runner on first, Rachel Iorio bounced back to Burge in the pitcher's circle. Burge turned and fired to second in a double-play attempt, but the ball was dropped and both runners were safe.
After inducing a pop out to first, Rayanna Furst strolled to the plate, where she drove home the game-winners.
"I had been telling the team to have confidence in (the batter's box)," said Furst, "and I decided to tell myself to have confidence for once and hit it. It felt real good off the bat.
"(Coach Kimmel) told me he moved me to leadoff because he wanted me to be a run producer. Before that at-bat, he told me, ‘I need you to be a run producer for me.' "
Furst's power didn't surprise head coach Tracy Kimmel, whose squad improved to 21-1 on the season.
"I think she has the best swing on our team," Kimmel said of Furst, who had a pair of infield singles to her credit before her game-winning hit, "and that's why I put her in the third spot.
"I told her before that at-bat, ‘you're a No. 3 hitter right now. I need you to drive the ball. You have the best swing on this team (so) let's show it to everybody.' "
Furst, who began the season as the Lady Lancers' No. 3 hitter, finished the contest with three hits in five at-bats with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.
Burge faired a lot better against the Neshannock hitters not named Furst, as the pair combined for half of their team's 10 hits. The P-O hurler walked one, struck out six and only yielded one earned run.
"We never really faced a team like that, that put a lot of pressure on our defense," said Burge, who ended the year with a 19-5 mark in the circle. "It was kind of a guessing game - if they bunted, you had to run; if they hit it, then you've got to field it.
"Me, Carly Gonder and McKayla Myers were talking the other day, and in my high school career I've never gone anywhere besides the state championship game. It's a new experience not making it there, but it just gives us something to work harder for next year."
After a scoreless sixth, things got a little interesting in the seventh with a controversial call, which coach Gonder later admitted the umpires got right.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Neshannock's Madison Altmyer hit a grounder to P-O third baseman Haley Frank. Frank bobbled it initially, but alertly tagged out Amanda Furst at third base.
No call was initially made on whether or not the run counted, drawing both Gonder and Kimmel out of their respective dugouts to argue their case.
The umpires conferred and determined Rayanna Furst slid safely into home before Frank tagged out her sister at third.
"It scored (before the out)," said Gonder. "(Going out to plead my case) was just me being a coach."
The Lady Mounties pulled even in the bottom of the seventh after Kenzie Burge laced a one-out double to the same gap Furst found in the eighth.
Burge scored two hitters later when her cousin roped a solid single to center to tie the game at 3.
Kate Burge moved into scoring position when the throw went home, but Lady Lancer pitcher Amanda Furst induced Aisha Goss to pop out to end the threat.
"We would have liked to have played better defense," said Gonder, "but I'm proud of the way we came back a couple times. We return a lot of people next year and we're excited about the possibilities. We're going to miss Katie Carpin and Kayla Wisor ... but I think it's definitely something for the younger kids to build on.
"I think our coaching staff felt these kids met all of our expectations and probably exceeded some of what we thought they'd be at the beginning of the year. We won 20 ballgames and a district title with seven people in new positions - not necessarily new starters, but different positions.
"They showed up every day and worked hard, and I can't ask for anything else."
The late rally was the second time in the contest P-O rallied, as Neshannock took a 2-1 lead with a pair of unearned runs in the fourth inning.
Carly Gonder led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple and scored two pitches later on a solid single to right off the bat of Kenzie Burge.
A sacrifice bunt and an error gave the Lady Mounties runners on first and second with one out, but Amanda Furst bore down and got back-to-back pop ups to third baseman Madison Shaffer to keep the score knotted at 2.
Once Furst had the lead, however, she set P-O aside in order in the eighth to end the game.
"We came so much farther than what we actually thought we were going to," Kate Burge said. "Once we got here, we thought we had a chance to repeat.
"It was a very unexpected season ... and it just feels amazing that we came this far."
NOTES: Baserunning blunders proved costly for both sides in the sixth inning. Neshannock had a leadoff triple yield no runs, as Amanda Furst's courtesy runner broke for home on a grounder back to Burge. The Lady Mounties, on the other hand, had a runner on second with one out in the bottom half, but Burge's courtesy runner was doubled off after not tagging on a shallow fly to center. ... Burge worked out of a jam that encompassed exactly 19 and a half hours due to the game being suspended on Monday evening. The Lady Lancers had a runner on third with two outs and a 1-ball, 2-strike count on Shaffer. Burge's first offering was bounced to Myers at second to keep P-O ahead, 1-0. ... Kate and Kenzie Burge had two hits apiece to pace P-O's seven-hit attack against Amanda Furst. ... The loss ended the Lady Mounties' run of two straight championship game appearances, and marked the first time the District 6 champion has not appeared in the finals since 2006.
R. Furst cf 5132, Shaffer 3b 4010, DeMatteo 2b 4110, A. Furst p 3120, Altmyer lf 4001, Fischer 1b 4001, Burelli rf 4110, Iorio c 3110, Graziani ss 4010. Totals: 35-5-10-4.
Gonder c 4210, Ke. Burge 1b 2121, Showers ss 3010, Ka. Burge p 4022, Goss lf-cf-lf 4000, Frank 3b 4000, Williamson dp 2010, Bainey pr-dp 1000, Wisor rf 1000, Brown rf 1000, Carpin cf-lf-cf 3000, Myers 2b (flex) 0000. Totals: 29-3-7-3.
Score by Innings
Neshannock 000 200 12-5 10 2
P-O 100 010 10-3 7 4
Errors-Shaffer, DeMatteo; Myers, Wisor, Frank, Showers. LOB-Neshannock 8, P-O 8. DP-Neshannock. 2B-R. Furst; Ke. Burge. 3B-A. Furst; Gonder. SAC-Shaffer; Ke. Burge, Showers, Wisor. SB-R. Furst. HBP-Iorio (by Ka. Burge).
Neshannock: A. Furst-8 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO.
P-O: Ka. Burge-8 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO.
WP-A. Furst. LP-Ka. Burge (19-5).