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Burrell rally too little too late in PIAA Class AA title game

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Saturday, June 14, 2008

Burrell usually makes a lot of noise from its dugout during baseball games. The Bucs are known for their boisterous tone and repetitious chanting.

But yesterday, they were unusually quiet.

Not that there was much to shout about.

Burrell's run through the state playoffs ended with an 8-3 loss to Loyalsock in the PIAA Class AA championship game at Blair County Ballpark near Altoona.

The Bucs (20-3), the No. 3 seed from the WPIAL, lost to a team that was just as effective hitting as it was pitching.

Loyalsock (22-4), from District 4 in the Williamsport area, had nine hits and built an 8-1 advantage before Burrell scored twice in its final at-bat.

The loss was Burrell's second in the state title game in eight years. It dropped a 4-1 decision to Phoenixville in 2001.

"We weren't ourselves today," Burrell senior shortstop/pitcher Dave Kunkle said. "We weren't in a flow. We weren't loud. It was tough."

Bucs catcher Eric McAlpine hit a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh past diving centerfielder Brian Zysset, but the rally was too late.

"We had a couple opportunities early that we let get by us," Burrell coach Mark Spohn said. "They hit some bleeders that got by us and fell."

Loyalsock took command early, then scored three runs in the sixth to pad its lead. Behind plenty of offense, pitchers Colin Kelly and Alex Cillo combined to strike out 11 Burrell batters.

"We didn't beat ourselves today," Spohn said. "They beat us."

Burrell's other run came on a sacrifice fly by Shane Welsh in the third inning.

Burrell left 11 runners on base in the loss and used an uncharacteristic three pitchers -- Seth Napierkowski, Kunkle and Derek Jenkins.

McAlpine had two hits to lead the Bucs.

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