Beaver's booming bats end Karns City's season
Beaver's bats were hot throughout the WPIAL playoffs, and in the PIAA first round against Karns City, nothing appears to have changed.
The Bobcats collected 14 hits, including a solo home run by starting pitcher Austin Logan, to end the season for the Gremlins, 10-0, in six innings in a PIAA Class AA first-round game at Pullman Park in Butler.
Logan held Karns City (18-2) to three hits in six innings, and he also had three hits and scored twice. Austin Ross hit a two-run triple, doubled twice and scored all four times he came to the plate for Beaver (18-3), which advanced to face Mt. Union in the quarterfinals Thursday.
Ross' triple drove in the first two runs of a five-run first that put Karns City in a hole from the outset. The Bobcats added two sacrifice flies and an RBI single by Jon Hill, batting around in the first inning.
“This is the calmest, coolest team I've ever been around,” Beaver coach Bruce Herstine said. “They don't get rattled, they don't get nervous, and that's the perfect way to start a game. I don't know about them, but it takes the tension off me (to have a 5-0 lead).”
Karns City's players knew they needed to produce, but the early deficit might have forced them out of their comfort zone at the plate. Of Karns City's 18 outs, five came by strikeout and six others came by pop-up or fly ball — something the Gremlins were trying to avoid.
“You get down like that, and sometimes you try to make too much happen on one swing,” Karns City coach Randy Collins said. “We needed to stay focused and keep playing our game. We were getting under the ball a little bit, and flyballs in a big park like this don't help us at all.”
After Logan's home run made the score 6-0, Collins brought Matt Yough on to pitch in relief of starter Tyler Kepple.
Yough pitched four strong innings by limiting Beaver to four runs — two earned — and forcing the Bobcats to a sixth inning before Jordan Yates' RBI single invoked the 10-run rule.
“(Kepple) was just a little inaccurate to the first couple of batters, and then they started sitting on (his pitches),” Collins said. “Matt came in as a sophomore pitcher and did a phenomenal job for us. He held us in the game, and that's tough coming in with the score like that in the second inning, 6-0.”
The Gremlins put a runner in scoring position in four of the six innings with stolen bases and sacrifices, but only once did Karns City put together two hits in an inning, when Yough and Nick Ganter both singled.
Ganter is one of three seniors — Scott Kiser and Tyler Rodgers are the others — who played their final game for Karns City. That trio finishes with 18 wins and a District 9 title in their senior year.
Meanwhile, the future looks bright for the Gremlins: Seven starters and their top two pitchers return next year.
“These guys put together a fantastic season, and we're super-proud of them and everything they did,” Collins said.
“We're going to miss these seniors. They definitely contributed a lot for us. We set out what we wanted to do and we just came up a little bit short today, but that's the game of baseball.”