PHILIPSBURG — A call to arms most likely resulted in a call for ice for Bellefonte’s Taylor Smith and Philipsburg-Osceola’s Curtis Matsko after Thursday’s baseball game at chilly Don Womer Complex.
The two matched each other pitch for pitch over the first six innings of what ultimately turned out to be a 13-7 win for the Red Raiders. Then, Bellefonte coach Jeremy Rellinger pulled Smith at the 110-pitch mark with one out in the seventh. Matsko went the distance, throwing 131 pitches over the full seven innings.
“We knew he was getting close (to is limit), but we wanted to try to let him finish the game,’’ Rellinger said of Smith. “But he’s the kind of pitcher that we can trust. At the end, there was no need for him to continue. This is his first complete game this year, although he’s been close to a couple of others. We didn’t really have him on a pitch count, we just used the eyeball test.’’
Dan Roan replaced Smith and the left-handed sidearm got the final two outs with ease.
“He’s not necessarily our closer, it’s just worked out that way,’’ Rellinger said. “But it’s nice to have him come in at the end. He has thrown real well. It’s another weapon in the arsenal.’’
In the other dugout, P-O’s Doug Sankey was pretty much out of bullets and had to stay with the burly Matsko.
“I felt bad for him,’’ Sankey said. “He was excellent through the first five innings. And if we would have had anyone to bring in, we would have brought him in. But Mark (Curtis) is hurt, (Tanner) Lamb is hurt, Nick Gray pitched this week, (Caleb) Pepperday) pitched this week, ( Mitch) Winters pitched this week. We had Nick Gray warming up but he’s got to pitch tomorrow (today). This scheduling doesn’t do the kids any favors. We have four games this week. So I have a kid out there on the mound throwing 131 pitches. It’s really hard. But we just don’t have that guy who can come in for two innings and shut it down.”
Through the early innings, both offenses were roughing up the pitchers.
Bellefonte scored twice in the top of the first, thanks to a two-run single by Taylor Butts, and added three runs in the second on RBI singles by Roan, Smith and Doylan Dietrich.
P-O did it the opposite way, getting three runs in the first on an RBI single by Matt Carpin and a two-run single by Travis Arnold for a 3-2 lead. In the second, a fielder’s choice by Taylor Golemboski and a run-scoring single by Curtis tied the game at 5-5.
It stayed that way until the fourth, when Roan lined a homer over the fence in right to give the Raiders the lead for good.
They tacked on three runs in the sixth thanks to a pair of wild pitches by Matsko and a single by Ethan White. In the seventh, Bellefonte got its final four runs on a two-run single by Smith, and a two-run double by Butts.
P-O had pulled to within 9-7 with two runs in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Lamb and Carpin.
“We knew they would be ready to battle,’’ Rellinger said of the Mounties. “For us to be able to keep bouncing back was big for us.’’
The Raiders pounded out 17 hits, while P-O managed eight off Smith, a key stat in the outcome according to Sankey.
“We are missing another stick in the batting order,’’ he said. “We’re just nickling and dimeing and not hitting balls in the gap. Until we get some guys doing that we’re going to have to do different things, find other ways to win.’’