JOHNSTOWN — A strong opening inning and some strong pitching got the State College National Little League Baseball team the start it was looking for at the Section 4 Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
National used a three-run first inning to take a lead it would never lose, while three pitchers combined on a four-hitter as State College topped Indiana 10-1 in the opening game of the four-team tournament.
“We got off to a nice start,” National manager Jeff Shoemaker said. “We didn’t have a lot of strikeouts and we played a good game.”
National will face Huntingdon, a winner over Red Land, at 4 p.m. Sunday in the winner’s bracket final of the double-elimination tournament. The tournament champion will advance to the state tournament in Bradford.
Justin Vescio, Kevin Karstetter and Brandon Lingenfelter teamed up on the mound for the win at the West Suburban Little League Complex, with Karstetter earning the win after Vescio pitched the first two innings.
“Karstetter hadn’t pitched in a month-and-a-half,” Shoemaker said. “Lingenfelter hadn’t pitched in three weeks. Vescio is one of our main guys, and he held them for two innings and we got to save him. To have them come in and pitch well was huge.”
Tyler Gulley had the big bat Saturday, clearing the bases with a double for that 3-0 first-inning lead. He later clubbed a two-run home run in the fifth as part of a four-run inning.
“(The first inning runs) allowed us to do some things with our pitching staff that will be beneficial to us as we go forward,” Shoemaker said. “It was paramount o how well we would do in this tournament.”
David Shoemaker, Jarrett Beyer and Cole Pammer each collected a pair of hits for National.
“For (Pammer) to come in off the bench and get two hits was a testament to all his hard work,” Shoemaker said. “We also had the guys in the hart of the order draw some walks. The guys had a lot of patience and ran up their pitch counts.”