MARTINSBURG — A week ago, Central fell behind by six runs and rallied to beat Penn Cambria in the first round of the District 6 Class 3A playoffs.
Philipsburg-Osceola was busy at the time dispatching Huntingdon, but the Mounties took notice.
When the teams met in Thursday’s semifinal game with a spot in both the District 6 championship game and the PIAA playoffs on the line and P-O jumped out to an early lead, coach Doug Sankey knew they had to keep adding to it.
After the Scarlet Dragons got back into the game briefly in the bottom of the third inning, the Mounties did just that, slamming the door on the defending PIAA Class 3A champions and ending their season with a 18-3, five inning victory.
“We talked about it all week,” Sankey said. “I have been coaching a long time. Central has the toughest kids in the state every year. We preached to our guys that every run matters. That first inning, once we had the bases loaded and no outs and a couple runs in, I was hoping for five runs. We did get five. It’s so hard to beat those guys, because they can come back from any deficit.”
Winning pitcher Denny Prestash, T.J. Wildman, Jamey Massung and Alex Knepp all had two hits each, and Sam McDonald drove in four runs for Philipsburg-Osceola.
“We have nine seniors,” Sankey said. “They have been all business. Real professional. They don’t get down too far, keep their composure, and we have been consistent all year.”
The Mounties will play in the championship game against fifth-seeded Tyrone, which upset top-seeded Forest Hills, 3-2, in the other semifinal. P-O defeated the Golden Eagles twice in the regular season and will try to win for a third time at Sargent Stadium at the Point in Johnstown on Monday at 4 p.m.
“It feels good,” Sankey said. “We have been pretty consistent all year. The hitting has been great. It’s always tough to get past these guys, but we’re happy to be back. They can hit the ball, I know that. They have a good offense. I don’t know if (Tyrone) pitched (Ross) Gampe, because he hasn’t pitched much, but we haven’t seen him yet. We’ll have to see matchup-wise who they pitch, but it’s going to be another Mountain League matchup, so you know it’s going to be tough.”
Central starting pitcher Kaleb Mountain walked the first three batters of the game on just 13 pitches and was pulled from the game. Relief pitcher Mason Sparks also struggled with his control and walked two more batters during a five-run first inning for Philipsburg-Osceola, which featured a two-run double by Prestash and a two-run single by McDonald.
“We did a lot of things that are uncharacteristic of us,” Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said. “We gave some free passes, we missed cut-off men, we just weren’t fundamentally sound. You have days like this. You just wish they weren’t in the district semifinals, but you know, it happens. Hat’s off to Philipsburg. I thought they had some good two-strike approaches and really battled in there. They were the better team today.”
Central got a two-run double by Baron Dionis in the bottom of the third that cut the Mounties’ lead to 6-3, but P-O batted around in each of the next two innings and scored six runs in each to put the game away.
“They beat us earlier in the season, 17-11, but we practiced really hard this week,” Prestash said. “We knew what we wanted to get done here. We wanted to make it happen, and we got it done. We’re feeling pretty high right now. Higher than a kite.”
Gustkey c 3200, DeSimone cf 4112, Lamb ss 3211, Wildman 3b 3320, Prestash p-lf 2022, Peterson cr 0300, Massung 1b 4123, Ivicic pr 0100, Emigh rf-p 0000, Knepp dh 4223, Hahn lf-rf 2210, McDonald 2b 2110. Totals: 27-18-12-15.
Je. Hoenstine ss 300, Snowberger 3b 3120, Mountain p 0000, Sparks p 0000, Muthler rf 0000, Smith dh 2110, Marko c 3000, Dionis cf-p 1112, Butler cr 0000, Metzger 2b 2000, Klotz 1b 3011, Black rf-cf 1000, Fisher lf 2000. Totals: 20-3-5-3.
Score By Innings
P-O 510 66—18 12 2
Central 003 00— 3 5 3
E—Lamb, Prestash, Hoenstine, Klotz, Metzger. 2B—Prestash, Massung, Wildman, Smith, Dionis.
Philipsburg-Osceola: Prestash—4IP, 5H, 2K, 3BB, 1HBP, 3R, 3ER, 86 pitches. Emigh—1 IP, 0H, 1K, 0BB, 0R, 0ER, 14 pitches.
Central: Mountain—0IP, 0H, 0K, 3BB, 3R, 3ER, 13 pitches. Sparks—3 1/3IP, 8H, 2K, 4BB, 8R, 6ER, 86 pitches. Dionis—1 2/3IP, 4H, 0K, 5BB, 7R, 6ER, 60 pitches.
WP—Prestash (4-1). LP—Mountain.