There is an adage in sports that says when two teams meet each other for the second time in a season, the result is usually much closer. That was the case for the Philipsburg-Osceola and Bald Eagle Area baseball teams.
The first meeting between the two teams saw a combined 19 runs as the Eagles prevailed by the football-type score of 13-6.
Monday at Doc Etters Field, the Eagles (7-4) again came out on top, but this time it was a tight a 3-0 final. BEA starter Jeff “Bubba” Bennett was outstanding, firing a one-hit shutout. He walked three, while striking out six P-O hitters.
“This was just a nice ball game by both teams,” said BEA coach Jim Gardner. “We got some great pitching, timely hitting and solid defensive play and when you get those three things together, it gives you a good chance to win the game.”
Although his team came out on the short end, P-O coach Doug Sankey felt his team played well in two of three phases of the game.
“Really we got good pitching and played good defense today, but we only got one hit,” said Sankey. “The story of our season has been giving up lots of walks, but our hitting has been keeping us in many of the games. We have been losing high-scoring games like 10-9, 13-12, but today (Bennett) was real tough on us. Today was the best that Tanner (Lamb) looked and then (Caleb) Pepperday came in a did a good job as well.”
Although Bennett experienced a little wildness in the first inning, he settled to only surrender a sharp, two-out single to left by Derek Shaw in the top of the fifth. In his route-going effort, Bennett only allowed two Mountie runners to reach second base.
“Bennett did a great job for us today,” said Gardner. “It was well pitched on both sides and maybe part of that was the wide strike zone the plate umpire had. That made it tough for the hitters to work the count because they had to be ready to hit just about anything. Bubba had good pop on his fastball, stayed ahead in the count and overall just did a heck of a job.”
Sankey felt that Bennett’s approach was the key to his success.
“He threw inside on us and for the most part, high school kids just don’t throw inside,” Sankey said. “He was inside on us all day and we just never figured him out. He has a short-term memory because when he had those couple of walks (in the first inning) it didn’t seem to bother him. I thought we had a good opportunity (to score) with four and five coming up, but Travis (Arnold) got jammed bad and Tanner struck out. For him to come back and get our next two big hitters out without any damage says a lot about him. Logan Williamson struck out for the first time this year so whatever he was throwing was working.”
Failing to score after loading the sacks with nobody out in the second, BEA broke on top in the third without the benefit of a hit. Bryan Greene walked, stole second and third and scampered home on a RBI groundout by Jordan Kobularcik.
Holding onto the slim one-run lead, the Eagles gave themselves a little insurance in the fourth with a pair of runs. Jason Jones singled, Tyler Schall was safe on an error on his sacrifice bunt. Bryce Greene chased both runners home with a two-run double to left-center.
“We have some guys with good speed who really hustle,” Gardner said. “When we got some runners on, I think that put some pressure on them because it makes the defense think about it and they know they have to step up quickly to make a play.“
In addition to getting outstanding pitching by Bennett, the Eagles also played errorless defense. Ryan Dyke was the only player with two hits.
“These guys are outstanding defensive players,” Gardner said. “Sometimes it takes a little time for us to settle in, but we are getting better and better all the time so I am really pleased with our defense at this point in the season. I expect big things from them and I think they expect big things out of themselves.”