STATE COLLEGE — Tri County’s Parker Mitchell wasn’t going to let this be his team’s last game of the District 5 Little League Baseball tournament.
Mitchell set the tone both on the mound and at the plate, forcing a second match-up with State College National for the right to advance to the Sectional Tournament with a 5-2 victory Monday night at Montressor Field. The teams will play their rematch Tuesday night.
After about an hour rain delay, the game began as a pitchers’ duel between Mitchell and National starter Jarett Beyer. Both hurlers were effective early, with no score through three innings.
In the top of the fourth, Mitchell started off the offense with a lead-off double, and reached third on a wild pitch. Blake Roberts knocked in the game’s first run with a single, and was brought home by the next batter, Ethan Moore, who belted a home run to right field.
After pitching out of jams in the second and third innings, Mitchell was able to keep State College off the board in the bottom of the fourth by leaving the bases loaded for the second consecutive inning.
“I knew I just had to throw strikes (to get out of those innings)” Mitchell said.
“He’s our ace,” Tri County manager Chip Lehman said. “The best pitcher I’ve ever seen.”
In the top of the fifth, Tri County catcher Cory Lehman singled, which was followed by a Brendan Franks home run to dead center, making the score 5-0.
Tri County tried to keep the rally going as Mitchell singled, but Jack Mangene entered the game in relief of Beyer with one out, and proceeded to strike out the next two to end the threat.
In the State College half of the fifth, Beyer started the inning off with a double to left, followed by a walk to Trenton Decker to give National runners on the corners with no outs. The next batter, Tyler Gulley, came through with a base hit to plate Beyer, and advance Decker to third. Kevin Karstetter then hit into a fielder’s choice, putting him on first and making the score 5-2 in favor of Tri County.
In the top of the sixth, Mangene remained on the mound, and with one out, gave up a double to Trevor Beck. Beck made it to third base on a wild pitch, but Mangene was able to stop Tri County, showing his glove work by making a diving stop on a chopper up the middle to keep Beck at third, and record the inning’s second out throwing to first, then getting the final Tri County batter to fly-out to left.
In the bottom of the inning, Mangene started the inning off with a bunt single, followed by a walk to David Shoemaker, but Tri County pitcher Ethan Moore was able to get the next three batters out to ice the game.
“It’s disappointing. We lacked opportune hitting,” State College National manager Jeff Shoemaker said.
State College National had come into the game having scored 52 runs in four district tournament games, but left 10 runners on base in Monday evening’s contest.