Devils set up section crown date with Raiders
WEST LEECHBURG - Leechburg's trip to Riverview Friday might be for all the marbles in Section 3-A.
Leechburg needed to beat Elderton to kept pace with Riverview for the top spot in the section. They didn't disappoint.
The Blue Devils (9-4, 6-1) took advantage of some very poor defense by the Bobcats and contributed some timely hitting to win 10-6.
Leechburg and Riverview are tied with identical section records and will battle today .
"The section championship is basically on the line," Leechburg head coach Bob Oberdorf said. "They have only one loss. They beat us. We are both 6-1 in the section. It is for the section championship which makes it fun."
Elderton played fun baseball and a solid game for the first three innings but during the fourth frame, the Bobcats seemed to forget how to field a baseball.
With two outs and a runner on first, Leechburg's Jason Bologna ripped a fly ball to centerfield that Kris Flemming dropped. Bologna was safe at third and scored to give Leechburg a 3-0 lead on a William Mazeres single.
The fifth inning is one Elderton head coach Abe Barker would like to forget as his Bobcats made two errors as Leechburg scored five unearned runs to take an 8-1 lead.
"That is what baseball is all about," Barker said. "You get three outs but when you start to give guys four and five outs, you can get into trouble."
Leechburg sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth and had only three hits. Fonzy Meidus started the inning with a walk and it appeared Leechburg wouldn't score as Elderton starting pitcher Ned Kimmel got the next two Blue Devils out. With two outs, Leechburg finally got a timely hit.
"We usually bang the ball rather well," Leechburg head coach Bob Oberdorf said. "There are times when we don't get those hits but it worked out rather well today."
On a 2-1 pitch, Tony Canzano collected his third hit of the afternoon, a RBI-single to right to score Meidus. Rob Mattu followed with a single to left to force Barker to pull Kimmel.
On Cody Blystone's first play on the hill, he promptly threw the ball past first baseman Chris Carnahan for an error to move Mattu to second. With runners on the corners and still two outs, Jason Bologna hit a line drive to short that Todd Cessna misplayed to keep the Leechburg inning alive.
"We have a flyball on the infield and the guy gets to second base," Barker said. "A guy tries to steal second and we throw the ball into centerfield and he ends up on third. Those are the routine plays we haven't been making and that is why we haven't been winning. We battle and try to get back into the game and we do things like that. Until we start to make the routine plays, we aren't going to win.
"You give them all the fly balls in practice you can. There is nothing you can do. We physically can't do it."
The Bobcats wasted a good pitching performance from Kimmel in the loss. Kimmel lasted just 4 2-3 innings pitched and gave up five runs but only three were earned on eight hits.
"He is a good pitcher," Barker said of Kimmel. "He battles. That is all we can ask of him. It is he first year of high school ball. He has the most composure of anybody on our staff."
Trailing 8-1 in the sixth, Leechburg didn't play like they wanted to win. In the inning, the Blue Devils committed two errors that allowed Elderton to score five unearned runs to crawl back within two, 8-6.
The Bobcats put runners on first and second with one out when Josh Troiano misplayed a ball to allow Pat Nordby to reach.
"We went into a lapse there," Oberdorf confessed. "The error at second base opened the mess there."
If they want to defeat the Raiders, the Blue Devils can't have the "lapse."