McCloskey delivers as Wildcats escape Golden Tigers
MILL HALL – Thursday’s meeting between Hollidaysburg and Central Mountain had a little bit of everything packed inside of it. A game that would end in dramatic fashion with the Wildcats walking it off in the bottom of the eighth inning featured three hit batters, two extra at bats and one overturned balk call that ultimately flipped the game.
Central Mountain–who collected its ninth straight win Thursday afternoon–defeated Hollidaysburg in extra innings by a count of 6-5. Cayde McCloskey’s game-winning sacrifice fly to center field capped off a two-run final inning for the Wildcats.
“I’m belated that we came back and won it,” Wildcats coach Mike Kramer said after his team’s nail-biting win. “We gave away some unearned runs early in the game which put us behind. Landyn (Carson) pitched a whale of a baseball game; they shouldn’t have had the runs that they did. Hats off to him–that’s his first start of the year–he put us in a position to win it and we won it. Ashton came in and did his job.”
The lefty Carson began the game on the bump for the Wildcats. The senior–who surrendered three runs in the opening inning due to some uncharacteristic defensive play from the Wildcats–went five innings and struck out five for Central Mountain.
Ashton Probst later relieved Carson and tossed the final three innings for the Wildcats. Probst earned the win for CM by allowing just one run and striking out two batters from Hollidaysburg. The production out of the bullpen is something Central Mountain struggled with at the beginning of the season. Kramer said it’s a reflection of his squad’s growth for Probst to be able to come in and shut the door.
“We started off slow because had so much inconsistency going early on, these guys have been working hard so I feel confident no matter who we’re putting out there right now. It’s really nice to see that” Kramer said.
After being in a 3-0 hole to begin the game, Central Mountain closed the gap to just one run after five complete innings. Following a two-run fifth highlighted by Cru Stover’s RBI single that scored two, runs were challenging to come by as both pitchers were efficient on the rubber.
The Wildcats pushed a run across in the bottom part of the seventh to force extras after Gabe Johnson rocketed a double to left field. The top of the eighth was when the game truly turned some heads.
After Hollidaysburg shattered the 4-4 tie to take one-run lead in the top part of the eight, Probst was called for a Balk. In turn, the Balk brought in another run. The call was later reversed.
Nate Sell was the next batter due up for the Golden Tigers with just one out and two runners in scoring position. Sell hit a high-soaring ball to shallow right field where McCloskey was stationed. The senior camped underneath the fly ball and fired it home for the double play.
McCloskey’s big inning continued into the bottom of the eight. The big-swinging lefty–who was 0-2 prior to his final at-bat–did what he had to do. McCloskey drove the ball to deep center, far enough to bring home his teammate Aidan Major and give the Wildcats the win.
“I was trying to catch the ball at first–that’s how errors happen–I just let adrenaline take over. I knew it was going to be a good throw, I didn’t know it was going to be right there,” McCloskey said in reference from his spot-on throw from right field.
In terms of the game-winning at bat pieced together by McCloskey, he said he was just trying to put the ball out on the green.
“Basically, I knew I was struggling hitting it. All I had to do was make contact, it was easy,” McCloskey said.
A win is always good from a coaching perspective, but to get the victory on senior day when eight Wildcats were honored, is even better according to Kramer.
Prior to the game’s first pitch Blade Myers, Noah Grenninger, Tanner Swinehart, Aidan Major, Cy Probst, Kaden Falls, Landyn Carson and Peyton Johnson were all recognized.
“This is a great way to go out on senior day. These seniors have meant a lot to our program. Each and every one of them has value to this program,” Kramer said.
Hollidaysburg 300 010 01–5 9 1
Central Mountain 000 120 12–6 9 1
W- Ashton Probst L- Evan Shale
Hollidaysburg top hitters: Evan Shale 3-3, 2B, RBI; Joe Bukosky 2-3, Zach Barton 1-3, 3B.
Central Mountain top hitters: Gabe Johnson 2-3, 2B, 2 RBIs; Cru Stover 2-4, 2 RBIs; Peyton Johnson 1-3, 2B; Aidan Major 1-5, 2B, RBI.
Records: Hollidaysburg 6-4, Central Mountain 10-3.