While Penns Valley’s lineup suffered from a poor approach and its defense remained error-prone, Penns Valley pitcher Hunter Homan turned in quality outing after quality outing.
The Rams right-hander didn’t allow more than four runs in each of his first three games, but the team failed to score one run to support him. Homan remained steady despite his 0-3 record, and with improved efforts by the offense and defense, he’s earned three wins in his past three outings to even his record at .500.
Homan picked up two of those wins Friday, leading Penns Valley past Bald Eagle Area 11-10 and 5-0 in a doubleheader.
“Hunter’s been on all year,” Penns Valley coach Jon Bowersox said. “He’s my go-to guy. He knows it, the team knows it. They know when Hunter’s pitch count allows him to pitch he’s pitching.
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“And that’s no questions asked.”
Homan threw one scoreless inning in the team’s 11-10 victory, a game that was suspended by darkness March 27 with the teams tied 10-10 in the top of the eighth. The right-hander then started the second game and limited BEA to one hit in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. The Rams (4-8) know they can rely on Homan, but they’ve won four of their past five games behind a productive offense and stronger defense.
Bald Eagle Area (3-6) finished with just two hits in the second game three days after going hitless in a loss to Bellefonte. BEA coach Jim Gardner credited Homan for his performance, but he also said his team’s lacking confidence. Earlier in the season, after the Eagles opened with an 0-3 record, they watched TCU hitting videos when they held practice indoors due to rain. But Gardner couldn’t find a fresh video on YouTube on hitting and attitude to show his players during their current slump. At practice this week, the Eagles hit with runners in scoring position to build them up and improve their mindset.
But on Friday, they couldn’t get anything going against Homan.
“To me, this is a game of confidence,” Gardner said. “And now our confidence at the plate, it seems to be at an all-time low.”
The Rams can relate — their struggles at the plate contributed to an 0-7 start to this season. Penns Valley scored nine runs in their first seven games (1.3 per game), and Bowersox said his players were chasing first-pitch curveballs and swinging at bad pitches to strike out. Bowersox and assistant coach Shawn Meyer took turns hammering that point home to the team.
“Sometimes I’m the bad cop, sometimes he is,” Bowersox said.
Homan said he’s seen players take a more selective approach, even during batting practice. Bowersox and his players credit the offense for their hot streak, and after the Rams scored in each of the first four innings in the second game Friday, Homan took care of the rest with his fastball and curveball.
“I know I wouldn’t want to be a hitter when it’s coming in and he’s throwing like he was today,” Rams catcher Luke Snyder said. “I’m glad he’s on my team and not the other team.”
Going into the season, Bowersox said the right-hander changed his release point from the windup, resulting in more movement on his fastball. He also adjusted the grip on his curveball — his go-to pitch.
Both pitches worked for Homan against the Eagles as he cruised through 7 2/3 innings.
“It’s pretty relaxing,” said Homan, who also went 2 for 4 in Game 2. “You just got to go out and keep doing the same thing over and over again.”