Good pitching and timely hitting proved to be the right combination for the Huntingdon Little League team — and the undoing of State College National.
Huntingdon’s Ryan Brechbiel kept the National bats quiet after the first inning while Mike Finkle delivered a grand slam to break the game open in a 10-2 victory over State College in the Section 4 championship game for 11-12 year-olds.
Huntingdon will advance to the Pennsylvania State Tournament, which begins Sunday in Bradford, while National’s season came to an end.
“The only tough part is to think this was the last time these kids will playing a meaningful game together like this with us,” National manager Jeff Shoemaker said. “But not a single guy was crying after the game. They were all upbeat and making plans for sleepovers. It’s a testament to how much fun they were to coach.”
Brechbiel pitched a complete game, holding State College to five hits and keeping National scoreless after the first inning.
State College jumped to a 2-0 lead after the first inning, with Kevin Karstetter’s two-run single scoring Jaret Beyer and Jack Mangene.
Huntingdon, which beat National 16-6 on Sunday, crawled ahead 3-2 by the fourth before finally getting the big bases-clearing hit from Finkle.
“They weren’t hanging their heads,” Shoemaker said of the reaction of his team. “They responded, they got one or two hits after that, but the kid who pitched really looked good. We couldn’t get anything going all day.”
Karstetter and Mangene accounted for four of National’s five hits, with Mangene also ripping a triple. In the bottom of the fourth, responding to the grand slam, National had its best threat but Cole Pammer was thrown out at home plate.
“They just continued to have key hits,” Shoemaker said. “They just chipped away at us.”
Beyer struck out three in four innings for the loss.
“He was effective early,” Shoemaker said. “One or two balsl got left up, but he battled and he looked great.”