Penns Valley baseball coach Jon Bowersox said Monday that if his team didn’t start hitting the ball, it was going to be a long week.
The week — which consisted of five games in five days — culminated Friday as the bats finally came alive in a 7-3 win over Claysburg-Kimmel. It was the first win of the season for Bowersox’s squad; Penns Valley is now 1-7.
“We needed this win. We really did. We put stuff together finally to get a win,” he said. “We get two days off, and then we travel to Mount Union on Monday, play Tyrone on Tuesday and have a doubleheader on Friday. We haven’t practiced for eight days, and we’re not going to get practice.”
All but one of the Rams’ games this week were on the road, and they finished 1-4. They traveled a total of 540 miles to Huntingdon, Central, Clearfield and Claysburg. If all that travel was mixed with five straight losses, a negative mindset could’ve very well permeated through the team.
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“That’s what I was afraid of,” Bowersox said. “I said the morale would come up if we could just get over that hump with a win. My seniors are sticking together. They know it’s not too late yet.”
Bowersox felt Friday’s win was the most complete game his team has played. It finally started hitting the ball.
Penns Valley scored runs in four straight innings, rattling off five runs on six hits in that span, along with a three-run fourth inning — the highlight of the scoring spree. Overall, Penns Valley finished with eight hits.
Lucas Sharer started off the crucial fourth inning by taking first base after getting hit by a pitch. Thomas Kauffman followed by drawing a four-pitch walk.
Freshman Logan Snyder then collected his lone hit of the game — a triple to center field, scoring Sharer and Kauffman. That increased Penns Valley’s cushion from 2-1 to 4-1 and effectively put the game out of reach for an up-and-down Claysburg-Kimmel.
“I haven’t been hitting very well this week so it’s a pleasure to hit in three runs and make a big impact on the game,” said Snyder, whose three RBIs were a game-high.
The Rams are hoping this win becomes a turning point for this season. Last year, they started out 2-2 — with a win over Bellefonte — but then went 2-12 the rest of the way. This season they may have envisioned a different kind of start, but Penns Valley isn’t ready to throw in the towel.
Certainly not after their best game of the year.
“We can still turn it around,” Bowersox added.
Although the Rams led 6-2 at one point, the game didn’t remain an easy victory. The Bulldogs tried to rally in the sixth inning by stringing together three straight singles and loading the bases with just one out.
A Kyle Glass single scored one runner to cut the Rams lead to 6-3, but that’s when Bowersox decided to turn to reliever Keith Butts — who needed just 10 pitches to end the game. Butts threw six pitches to close out the sixth inning, striking out the first batter and then getting the second to fly out. In the final frame, he needed just four pitches to retire three batters.
“(He) is my best guy to come in out of the relief cold,” Bowersox said. “He can throw strikes and throws hard as a lefty. I knew we were in good shape when I brought him in.”
Bowersox didn’t want to think about the kind of shape Penns Valley might’ve been in with a loss Friday. But, with its first victory of the season, things are finally starting to look up for the Rams — and that wasn’t lost even on the freshmen.
“It’s good we could get the ‘W’ at the end of the week,” Snyder said, “and get a jump-start for next week.”