Despite 8th-inning rally, Kiski Valley falls in Region 7 title game
BEDFORD — Sometimes an errant throw can swing the momentum in baseball, and that was the case in Wednesday's Pennsylvania American Legion Region 7 tournament championship game.
Beech Creek gave up a trio of runs to Kiski Valley in the bottom of the eighth inning, thanks in large part to an errant throw. In similar fashion in the top of the ninth, the hosting Vikings gave up an error that gave the go-ahead run to Beech Creek.
The reigning Region 7 champions got a double play in the bottom half of the ninth Wednesday to secure an 8-6 win over Kiski Valley at Bedford High School.
Kiski Valley ended its best season with a 27-8-1 record.
“We knew coming in we were short on pitching,” Kiski Valley coach Dennis Montgomery said. “The job we asked (J.J.) Brestensky and (Tyler) Alworth to do was to get us here and they did that job. We can't say enough good things about them. We thought we were going to have to play a perfect game, and that's not realistic — even in the pros at times. That's what we needed to do, and we weren't able to do it.”
Scoreless through the first two innings, Beech Creek jumped on the board first in the top of the third, putting up a pair of runs.
Tyler Hettich started on the mound for Kiski Valley, and held Beech Creek silent through two innings. The third was a different story.
Toner Corl led off for Beech Creek and doubled. Alex Garbrick followed with a single and quickly swiped second. After the first out was recorded, Wyatt Koch and Kenny Heverly walked and the first run was scored. Kiski Valley pulled Hettich off the mound and replaced him with Alworth.
Alworth gave up a walk as Garbrick scored the second run of the inning, but the Vikings got the final two outs to end the inning.
Kiski Valley, which pounded Claysburg, 19-5, earlier in the day, responded in the bottom of the fifth, tying the game 2-2 with a two-run home run by John Thomas.
Beech Creek wasted little time taking the lead back in the top of the sixth, 4-3, but the Vikings pulled within one run in the bottom half of the frame.
Tyler Grosholz walked at the start of the inning and advanced to second on a passed ball. After a strikeout and a ground out, Anthony Falsetti singled and scored Grosholz. Falsetti was awarded second after the Beech Creek throw snaked its way out of play, but he was stranded at second as the inning came to an end.
The Vikings struck in the bottom of the inning with a three-run rally. With one out, Brestensky and Falsetti singled. Thomas recorded his second hit of the game, an RBI single, and Falsetti also scored on the play with the throw going out of play at first. Thomas scored on a sacrifice bunt by Hettich, putting the Vikings on top 6-5.
Beech Creek sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the ninth and plated three runs on three hits. With the bases loaded, pinch-hitter Caleb Seyler was hit by the pitch that scored the tying run. Colin Treaster scored Hanley, and Asher Corl scored on an error that solidified the game for Beech Creek.
“What we asked the kids to do before the game was to leave nothing on the field,” Montgomery said. “If we leave here and you're thinking something else, we're not going to get to states. We left it on the field, and we just came up three outs short.”
This was the eighth straight elimination game the Vikings played in, with the District 31 champions winning seven of them.
“The character of the young men in our dugout makes it the saddest time of the year knowing four or five of them played in their final game,” Montgomery said. “It's such a tough loss. It's the nature of the game. We certainly wish Beech Creek the best, and the better team won today.”
Codi Weyant is a freelance writer.