Little League baseball: State College National advances in District 5 11-12 All-Star tournament with win over Bellefonte

State College National got one step closer to playing for a District 5 11-12 All-Star Tournament championship with a convincing 21-7 win over Bellefonte at Montressor Field on Sunday.

National didn’t waste any time, jumping out to a big lead. An 11-run first inning helped propel National into the winners bracket final where it will meet Philipsburg-Osceola in Philipsburg at 6 p.m. on Monday.

“They’re obviously really excited,” State College National coach Jeff Shoemaker said. “Bellefonte’s a great team so it was a really big win.”

And a complete team effort, too.

Offense was the early key for National. Jack Mangene led off the game with a bunt single and pitcher David Shoemaker reached base on a Bellefonte error. Neal Singer followed with a home run to left center off Bellefonte pitcher Bryan Tate to give National a 3-0 lead with no outs.

“It was crushed,” Jeff Shoemaker said of Singer’s blast.

Singer’s teammates would follow his example.

Jaret Beyer, hitting cleanup for State College, singled to reach base and Trenton Decker sent a homer in the same direction of Singer’s to push State College’s lead to 5-0. Tyler Gulley and Kevin Karstetter hit back-to-back singles before Bellefonte was able to secure back-to-back outs. But Mangene followed with a three-run homer — again to left center — and Singer blasted his second homer of the inning — another three-run shot to cap the scoring in the top of the first.

Bellefonte wasn’t willing to go quietly, however, and cut National’s lead 11-6 with a heavy-hitting bottom of the first off a shaky Shoemaker. Nick Fisher smacked a grand slam.

But the National pitcher relaxed afterward and secured five of his seven strikeouts over the next three innings.

“He struggled a little bit with control in first,” Jeff Shoemaker said. “He let up six in the first but settled in after that.”

National closed the game with a 10-run top of the fourth, enacting the 10-run rule when Bellefonte failed to close the game in the bottom of the inning.

“Anytime you can put it away early it’s great,” Jeff Shoemaker said. “It was a great team win. From top to bottom, everyone did something.”

National (3-0) will face Philipsburg-Osceola (3-0) in the winners bracket finale. Philipsburg earned wins over Curwensville, Clearfield and Tri County en rout to facing State College National.

Jeff Shoemaker said he expects his team to be rested despite playing on back-to-back days due to the shortened game against Bellefonte.

“I’m sure we’ll up and ready for a very tough Philipsburg team,” Shoemaker said.

Fisher added a double for Bellefonte. Cade Forney and Tate also had two hits.