GREENE TOWNSHIP With runners on the corners, Philipsburg-Osceola slugger Cody Lee drove a ball down the third base line.
But as Mike Marcinko and Robbie Smith rounded the bases, Lees deep shot suddenly took on a new trajectory and landed just foul at the last second.
It was a microcosm of P-Os afternoon at Greene Township Municipal Park, where the Mounties were eliminated from the PIAA Class AA baseball tournament with a 10-0 loss in five innings to District 11 champion Pine Grove.
We just felt snakebit, I guess you could say, P-O coach Doug Sankey said. Nothing went right for us. Just little things. When you coach a long time and youre superstitious, I dont know. Nothing went right.
An offensive juggernaut for the majority of the season, the Mounties offense managed just two hits off of Pine Grove starter Jared McCabe. The Pine Grove pitcher struck out five and walked two after an 84-minute rain and lightning delay that chased players and coaches into their dugouts as fans took shelter under overhangs near the concession stand.
The Cardinals won their second-straight playoff game by 10 runs and got contributions up and down their order, as six Pine Grove batters registered hits and three more notched multiple RBIs.
Pine Grove dealt heavy damage in the first and second innings before lightning forked across the sky.
Nick Todero and Josh Scheibley hit back-to-back singles with Scheibleys hit scoring Todero. Steve Zimmerman singled to score Scheibley then stole second while Brandon Scheibley walked. Jordan Shiffers double into right plated both Zimmerman and Scheibley to give Pine Grove a 4-0 lead on P-O starter Lee.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the second before Sankey opted to pull Lee and send Parker Watson to the mound. But Steve Zimmerman and Brandon Scheibley continued Pine Groves torrid pace and belted back-to-back doubles that brought home four more runs.
Weve just put together two complete games and these guys are peaking at the right time, Pine Grove coach Keith Lehman said.
I keep saying a month but I guess its five or six weeks where weve just been playing great baseball. Theyre coming to play and were swinging the bats well, pitching well and playing defense. Put them three things together and youre going to have success.
P-O got its final hit of the season when Mark Curtis singled to right in the top of the second, but the Mounties would go hitless after that. The Mounties stranded three runners on base all game, two of them in the first, which was the best shot P-O had to take an early lead with Lee at bat.
We wouldve got the momentum rolling there, Marcinko said. Our team wouldve been fired up. I definitely think if that wouldve been a fair ball, it wouldve been a different game, different outcome.
But the Mounties ineffective at-bats soon collided with their sloppy defense.
After play resumed, a disastrous sequence in the bottom of the fourth inning cost P-O a chance to stave off the mercy rule.
Watson got Josh Scheibley to ground out before Ty Zimmerman hit a ball toward third base. P-Os Matt Kephart couldnt field the bouncing ground ball cleanly then threw wildly to first. The overthrow allowed Zimmerman to take second uncontested and he would advance to third on Steve Zimmermans ground out an at-bat later.
Ty Zimmerman scored from third on a wild pitch from Watson for the final run.
Those guys hit the ball. I give them all the credit in the world, Sankey said. You still have to hit it. Their kid threw strikes. We hit the ball here and there, but they made plays and it was just one of those days.
And one where the high school careers of nine P-O seniors came to a close.
Joining Marcinko, Smith, Lee, Watson and Kephart at P-Os graduation tonight will be fellow upperclassmen Greg Belko, Hunter Harris, Josh Dotts and Logan Walstrom.
It has been a highly productive senior class for Sankey as the Mounties have turned in 14-, 14-and 19-win seasons over the past three years.
Those guys have been in the lineup for most of them. Its a great senior class, Sankey said. We talked about how much theyve contributed to the program, but theyve contributed a lot to our school district. Theyre real classy kids. They do a lot together and theyre involved in a lot of different things, its been really nice to be around those guys.
Travis Johnson can be reached at 231-4629. Follow him on Twitter @traviswjohnson_