Penns Valley took a three-run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning against Mount Union, but poor fielding wrecked the Rams postseason chances as the Trojans rallied for a 6-5 victory in the District 6 Class AA playoffs.
From the first inning, starting pitcher Penns Valley’s Max Bair had Mount Union’s hitters off-balance. Bair effectively used his changeup and curveball while mixing in an effectively sneaky fastball. The crafty right-hander scattered just five hits over the first six innings while walking two and striking out two.
“Max threw a heck of a game,” Penns Valley coach Chuck Romig said. “He derserved a much better fate.”
Penns Valley got on the board first in the fourth inning and had other opportunities to do so earlier in the game. The Rams had six hits through the first four frames, but stranded eight runners. The lone run in the fourth came when designated hitter Anthony Montressor walked home after catcher Colton Treaster was beaned by a pitch from Mount Union’s Klayton Heffner.
Bair went back to work in the bottom of the fourth and persevered through two errors to hold the Trojans scoreless. The senior pitcher found himself in a bases loaded jam with two outs but was able to get Mount Union’s Dylan Sunderland to fly out to right field.
“He has one of the best changeups I’ve ever seen out of a high school pitcher,” Romig said. “He keeps teams off-balance. That’s what he does. He’s a good pitcher.”
Bair and his teammates got a lift from first baseman Kevin Butts in the top of the fifth as the big righty took a 1-0 fastball to deep left center field, giving the Rams a 2-0 advantage. Penns Valley would tack on three more runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 5-1 lead and it looked like the 10th-seeded Rams would knock off the No. 7 Trojans until wielding woes struck.
The Rams committed two errors in the seventh — their seixth and seventh of the game. A three-run home run by Mount Union’s Brady Goodling tied the game at 5-5. Trevon Walker eventually smashed a walk-off single to end the game. The Trojans did not commit an error.
The Rams had opportunities to blow the game open but timely hits were at a premium and the team left 11 runners stranded.
“Mount Union is a good team and you’re not going to keep that team down too long,” Romig said. “To their credit they got it done. We got it done for six innings, they got it done for one and they came out on top.”
Montressor had three hits to lead the Rams (9-10). Cody Luse chipped in two hits and an RBI while Wyatt Sharp and Cameron Tobias also had hits for the Rams.
Mount Union advances to play at second-seeded Bald Eagle Area on Monday at 4 p.m.