Curwensville baseball falls to Karns City in D-9 Class AA playoffs
Friday, May 23, 2014
By Jaclyn Yingling Sports Editor
BUTLER - After getting its first two hitters on in the first inning, then moving them to scoring position, the Curwensville baseball team looked like it might have a day against Karns City.
But the Tide struggled to push a run across until late in the sixth inning. By then, the Gremlins were well on their way to a 5-1 victory in the semifinals of the District 9 Class AA playoffs on Thursday at Kelly Automotive Park in Butler.
It was a bittersweet end for Curwensville, which started the season 0-4 and made a late-season push during the final week to make the playoffs.
"We loaded it in the first, and we just couldn't break through there," said Tide head coach Denny Johns. "The pitchers went toe-to-toe in the first three innings, and they finally broke through in the fourth.
"It was a good ballgame. I'm proud of our kids. I'm disappointed, because we really wanted to make a run this year. But we put everything out there, and that's all I can ask for."
Things looked good early, as Tanner Elensky ripped a single up the middle to lead off the game. A bunt single by Tyler Mays put runners on first and second, before a near-perfect bunt by Jake B. Stiles moved the runners up.
But Karns City pitcher Matt Yough got two popups, sandwiched around a walk to end the frame.
Yough held the Tide scoreless for five-plus innings before allowing an unearned run. He struck out four batters and allowed just one walk and three hits.
Curwensville starting pitcher Kyle Johns got off to an even better start than Yough, throwing just 28 pitches through three innings.
The Tide defense backed him up as well, catching a runner trying to come home in a rundown for an out before getting another runner trying to score from second on an error.
Johns got into a jam in the fourth inning, walking the leadoff batter, Nate Weckerly. Tyler Kepple knocked a single off Johns' glove before both runners stole bases to get into scoring position.
That brought Yough to the plate, and he took a 3-1 pitch to the center right-field wall, allowing both runs to score.
Yough later scored on an RBI single by Zach Moore, widening the Gremlins lead to 3-0.
Johns buckled down and got out of the inning, thanks, in part, to a double play the Tide turned for the first two outs of the inning.
"He threw well," said Coach Johns. "A couple of his pitches he got out over the plate. The double to right-center that scored their first two runs ... I thought he got it up and out. That fifth run, we just hung a curveball on an 0-2 count in the middle of the plate.
"They are a good ball club. I give them a lot of credit. They aren't a 13-2 ball team for no reason at all."
Karns City added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, chasing Johns from the mound. He was relieved by Brett Gardner, who needed just two pitches to get out of the inning with a groundout.
Gardner finished out the game, allowing just one hit, while also striking out one.
"He did exactly what we needed," Coach Johns said. "He shut it down and kept it right there. We just couldn't get it going offensively, and it came back to hurt us."
Curwensville scored its lone run of the game in the top of the sixth inning as Elensky led off by reaching on an error.
He came home on a single by Mays to cut the lead to 5-1. But Yough got the next three batters out in order, ending any chance at a Tide rally.
"Ty clutched up there," said Coach Johns. "He was in a 2-2 count and their pitcher threw a tough breaking ball on the outside, and he went with it to right field to get us on the board.
"He's been doing that the second half of the year. He had a really good at-bat there."
Yough finished out the top of the seventh with two strikeouts and a groundout to set the Curwensville batters down in order to end the game.
It was the final game in a Tide uniform for seniors Elensky, Gardner, Johns, Ricky Magnuson, Mays and Alex Olson.
"I said a number of times that I thought this group was special," said Coach Johns. "I never lost faith in them. I knew we dug ourselves a hole at the start of the season.
"They stayed with it though, and they worked hard everyday. Some good things happened for us. I'm really glad that we got here. I'm just disappointed that we don't go on."
Curwensville finished the season at 10-10.
Elensky ss 3110, Mays c 3021, J.B. Stiles 3b 2000, Gardner 2b-p 3000, Johns p-lf 2000, Magnuson 1b 3000, A. Olson lf 3000, Strickland rf 2000, Terry 2b 0000, Bloom ph 1000, Lansberry cf 2000. Totals: 24-1-3-1.
Weckerly c 1100, Kepple ss 2110, Yough p 2212, Moore lf 3032, Riley 1b 2000, Marotto 3b 3000, Geibel rf 1000, Dunn ph-rf 1010, Everetts cf 3000, Stitt 2b 3110. Totals: 21-5-7-4.
Score by Innings
Karns City 000Á320Áx-5Á7Á1
Errors-Johns, Magnuson; Stitt. LOB-Curwensville 3, Karns City 4. DP-Curwensville 1. 2B-Yough. 3B-Moore. SAC-J.B. Stiles; Weckerly, Kepple. SB-Moore 2, Dunn 2, Weckerly, Kepple. WP-Johns 2.
Curwensville: Johns-4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO; Gardner-1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO.
Karns City: Yough-7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO.