By Chris Rossetti
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Heartbreak for Elk County Catholic.
The Crusaders luck ran out Friday evening when Devon Prep, the District 1 champion, scored an unearned run on a throwing error by catcher Dan Stauffer in the bottom of the ninth inning to grab a 2-1 win in the PIAA Class A Championship Game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the home of Penn State baseball and the State College Spikes.
“It was a tough loss,” ECC head coach Father Eric Vogt said. “The more you invest in it, the more it hurts. They invested three-and-half months in it. They feel pretty bad. But they will recover. They are kids. We will recover. We will coach again next year.”
Devon Prep, which had tied the game without the benefit of a hit in the sixth inning, won the game without a hit in the ninth.
Sean Phelan led off the inning with a four-pitch walk off reliever and loser Ryan Childs. A fielder’s choice by Chris Bauers after a strikeout left the Tide with a runner at first and two outs. But Bauers stole second then stole third, his third and fourth stolen bases off the game and the seventh for Devon Prep, and scored when the throw Stauffer glanced off the glove of a leaping Ross Brennen at third base, who appeared to be late getting to the bag.
“The regular third baseman didn’t play,” Vogt said. “That is all that is.”
The loss ruined an otherwise great pitching performance by ECC, something fans of the District 9 champions had come to expect during the PIAA playoffs.
Brandon Schlimm made his second start in four days and was nearly unhittable allowing a bloop base hit to Dom Hardaway with one out in the first inning, which ended up being Devon Prep’s lone hit of the game. He went seven innings – he wasn’t allowed to go more than seven because he had pitched seven in the semifinal win over Bishop McCort Monday – striking out 11 while allowing the one hit. He also walked three and hit two.
Schlimm needed to be strong, as his mound opponent, Pat Rohr was nearly as a good.
Rohr went eight innings allowing five hits, none after the fourth inning, while walking two and striking out three.
“We just hit the ball right at them,” Vogt said. “Too many missed opportunities. That was the game.”
ECC got to Rohr for a run in the fourth when Wortman was hit by a pitch, stole second and went to third on a ground out by Dan Singer before scoring on an infield single by Jonathan Dippold that glanced off the glove of second baseman CJ Kohlbrenner, who was playing in.
Devon Prep tied the game in the sixth scoring a run without the benefit of a hit.
Matt Bevilacqua led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. After Kohlbrenner reached on a fielder’s choice with Bevilacqua out at second and stole second, Hardaway walked and Tony Gallo was hit by a pitch.
Sean Phelan then blooped a ball into left field that landed safely allowing Kohlbrenner to score. Hardaway was out at third on the play having to wait up to see if the ball was caught.
“He hit the No. 9 hitter, and that was the game,” Vogt said.
ECC looked like it had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Vincent Jacob doubled off the tall Clemente-like wall in right field before going to third on a wild pitch. Wortman lifted a fly ball to right, and Jacob sprinted home apparently safely. But on appeal, it was determined by the third base umpire that Jacob left early, and he was ruled out.
“The tag up at third was huge,” Vogt said. “Its tough to see. I thought he left a little early. But with my angel, you never know. The umpires angel is the best.”
NOTES – It was the first extra inning game in PIAA Class A history – Class A started in 1999 … It was also just the fifth PIAA game of any classification to go at least nine innings. The last one as in Class AAAA when North Penn beat Lower Dauphin 6-5 in nine innings … The game was originally slated to start at 3:30 p.m. but was delayed because of the length of the Class AAAA title game before it. Then a 55-minute rain delay pushed the start time back to 6:02 p.m. … It marked the second straight year a D9 team played in the Class A title game. Johnsonburg won last year. Overall, D9 Class A teams have now played in four Class A title games going 2-2 with DuBois Central winning in 2001 and Johnsonburg losing in 2007 … ECC went 20 straight innings from the fifth inning of the first-round game against Sewickley Academy until the sixth inning of the game Friday night.
DEVON PREP 2, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 1
Score by Innings
ECC 000 100 000 – 1 5 1
Devon Prep 000 001 001 – 2 1 1
ECC – 1
Jacob CF 3020, B. Dippold lf/2b 4000, Wortman rf 3110, Singer ss 4000, J. Dippold 2011, Hoffman pr 0000 Struble pr/lf 0000, Schlimm p/1b 3000, Zelinski dh 4010, Brennen 3b 3000, Strauffer c 3000, Gerber cr 0000, Childs 1b/p 0000. Totals 29-1-5-1.
DEVON PREP – 2
Kohlbrenner 2b/lf 4100, Hardaway 3010, Gallo dh 3000, Phelan 1b/p 3001, Latran lf/1b 4000, Bauers cf 3100, Dipietro 3b 3000, Klicka rf 2000, Watters ph 0000, Bevilacqua ss 2000, Rohr p 0000. Totals 27-2-1-1.
LOB: ECC 6, Devon Prep 5. Errors: ECC 1, Devon Prep 1. 2B: Jacob. HBP: Wortman, Bevilacqua, Gallo. SB – Wortman, Kohlbrenner, Hardaway, Bauers, Watters.
ECC: Schlimm 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 Ks. Childs 1 ⅔ IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks.
Devon Prep: Rohr 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks. Phelan 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks.
WP: Phelan. LP: Childs