Kiski ousted from playoffs
BELLEFONTE -- Kiski Valley knew it had to play a nearly perfect game to defeat State College on Tuesday in the Region 7 American Legion playoffs, but perfection was difficult to achieve against one of the best teams in the state.
State College took advantage of Kiski Valley errors early in the game and won, 12-3, at Bellefonte High School. The defeat ended Kiski Valley's season.
Kiski Valley fell behind, 6-0, in the third inning, but coach Dennis Montgomery said the game could have been much closer.
"You find yourself killing a lot of time getting ready for a game, and we think we have a formula for success against a team like this," he said. "You need to stick around and make a play late, and errors don't allow you to do that."
The Vikings committed five errors in the game, and the problems started immediately. State College's Phil Horne doubled down the left-field line in the first at-bat of the game, and scored on an error when the throw from the outfield got past shortstop Jon Moore. Brendan Pifer walked later in the inning, and scored on another error, putting Kiski Valley in a 2-0 hole.
After scoring another run in the second, Eric Kempton sent a towering three-run home run to right field in the third, giving State College a 6-0 advantage.
But Kiski Valley did not go quietly. Jake Shaffer and Blake Pavlik singled to start the third, and Tyler Garrone doubled to score the runners. Willie Nelson singled later in the inning to score Garrone.
State College starting pitcher Joe Smith took charge from there, however, pitching 61/3 innings and allowing eight hits to get the win.
Kiski Valley starter J.P. Samay didn't do himself many favors, though, by issuing six walks. State College ended up with 11 walks overall.
"The formula would have worked today," Montgomery said. "We did the things we needed to do at times, just not consistently enough to give State College a run for their money."
Four more runs in the fifth and two in the eighth set the final score and sent State College into the championship game today, seeking its 15th regional championship in a game against Mifflin County.
For Montgomery, this season was all about changing the mentality of Kiski Valley baseball.
"This was our first year with this team," he said, "and we weren't sure what to expect, but on the whole, these guys didn't have much of a taste of success or winning," he said. "I really do think growing as a team is where these guys have improved. It was fun to watch."