East Pennsboro silences Bellefonte, miscue prove costly in 2-1 Loss
By LUKE ROMAN
For The Express
NEWPORT-Small mistakes often become magnified in playoff baseball-especially when facing superior pitching.
Just ask Bellefonte who suffered a season-ending 2-1 loss yesterday at the hands of East Pennsboro, a team they defeated 15-4 in last season’s PIAA tournament.
Costly Red Raiders miscues led to both East Pennsboro runs and senior Nick Embleton’s stellar-mound performance ensured they held up for the Panthers.
“This time of year, when you give somebody an advantage in a situation, it makes it tough because you are forced to defend something that shouldn’t be there,” said Bellefonte coach Jon Clark.
“Capitalizing on mistakes is key in playoff baseball,” said Panther coach Tyler Comp. “They are high school kids, both teams are nervous. I thought there were a few more we could have (cashed in on).”
The defensive lapses spoiled a strong, gritty performance from sophomore Seth Shuey who scattered seven hits in his complete-game effort. Shuey did a great job pitching out of jams all day– as he stranded six runners.
The first big miscue came in the third when left fielder Ashton Wetzler misplayed a fly ball of the bat of Alejandro Escalet, which resulted in a leadoff double. A sensational play from second baseman Nick Capparelle on a high chop momentarily saved the run, but Embleton gave the Panthers the lead with his solid RBI knock to center.
“That was the biggest play we would like to have back,” said Raider center fielder CJ Funk, who has already committed to play baseball at Pitt. “That would have stopped right there.”
“He said it was hard to see the ball off the bat and he (mistakenly) came in,” said Shuey.
The Panthers looked poised to add on in the fourth when Brady Swenson reached on a fielding error by the shortstop and Zach Garlinger singled to right. However, Nick Catalano’s bobble lured the runners to try and advance. Catalano fired a strike to shortstop Dylan Young to nail Garlinger.
Following a groundout to first which held Swenson at third, Young redeemed his earlier error with a nifty play on a chopper to retire the side.
Meanwhile Embleton was dealing, carrying a no-hitter through six, while allowing just a solitary base runner in that span while striking out nine.
“Embleton has been a starter for us for four years,” said Comp. “He pitched in the state semifinals two years ago. We lost to them last year, he pitched in relief, he had this game circled.”
“Their pitcher threw phenomenal,” Bellefonte coach Jon Clark said. “He is a D-1 pitcher. He located his spots well and had his curveball working. I can’t say much for our hitting because you just don’t expect to face pitching like that every week. He hid his pitches very well and didn’t tip anything off, and he has a great mix of speeds for high school.
“We knew they had a solid pitcher coming in-who throws a couple different pitches well,” said Clark. “We saw him last year, we knew we were going to see quality pitching this time of year, but we knew we had guys on the mound that could match up. I thought Seth pitched a heck of a game and held us in it.”
However, another costly miscue in the bottom of the sixth gave the Panthers a critical insurance run.
With one out, Jake Madden singled to left. He then stole second and took third when the throw skipped into centerfield. Madden scored when he beat the throw home on a squeeze play after Garlinger laid down a beautiful bunt. The Panthers had a shot to further extend their lead with two on and one out, but Catalano made a sensational diving catcher on a sinking liner, and was able to double off the runner on second to end the threat.
With their backs against the wall, the Red Raider bats came to life in the final frame. Funk’s smash past third got things rolling, sophomore Bobby Marsh followed with a line single to left, and the go ahead run was at the plate.
However, a pair of comebackers to the pitcher and a foul pop to third ended the comeback hopes. Funk was able to score on CJ Lauch’s groundout during which Marsh was nearly nailed at third on trailing end of the play.
“(The rally) showed we had some heart,” said Funk. “We were down 2-0, that stung. But the fact everyone came together in the last inning, and showed we are not out of it quite yet, showed we have a lot of pride in what we do and are never out of the fight.”
“Our guys never let up,” said Clark. “They never stop trying. They keep adjusting and started getting a better read on the pitcher. We didn’t have a hit up to that point, but we hit some balls hard. It comes down to little things, some you can control and some you can’t. Both teams played excellent, they just made one or two more plays and got a couple bounces their way, which happens this time of year.”
East Pennsboro 2, Bellefonte 1
Bellefonte 000 000 1 — 1-2-3
East Pennsboro 001 001 x -2-7-0
WP: Nick Embleton LP: Seth Shuey SV: None.
IP/Run/Earned (EP) Embleton 7/1/1; (B) Shuey 6/2/1.
SO/BB: (EP) Embleton 9/1; (B) Shuey 2/1.
2B: Alejandro Escalet (EP)
RBI: (B): CJ Lauck; (EP): Embleton, Zach Garlinger.