Little League Baseball: State College National stays alive, makes sectional final

A night after errors plagued them and led to a disappointing loss, the State College National Little League Baseball team rebounded to keep their goal of winning a Section 4 championship within sight.

National bounced back from a seven-error disaster against Huntingdon on Sunday to post a 16-5 win over Indiana on Monday.

Neil Singer hit two home runs while Tyler Gulley and Brandon Lingenfelter each added one. Lingenfelter also frustrated Indiana’s lineup over four innings, striking out seven for the win.

“Lingenfelter was fantastic,” State College coach Jeff Shoemaker said. “We haven’t had to use him much to this point. He’s the only pitcher that we had to burn (Monday).”

Reliever Justin Vescio threw fewer than 20 pitches to pick up the save.

It has taken National players a few games to adjust to the all-dirt infield which provides a faster track for balls hit into it, State College coach Jeff Shoemaker said.

While they struggled to field balls against Huntingdon, they were mindful of the field’s tendencies and adjusted against Indiana, committing just two errors to Indiana’s four.

“It’s just a different playing surface,” Shoemaker said. “The guys made some adjustments based on where they played in the field and the guys made a few really good defensive plays and that really made the difference.”

None were better than outfielder Jarret Byer’s laser-beam throw to second base to prevent Indiana from taking a lead in the bottom of the third inning. With the score tied at 3-3, with two outs and two Indiana runners on base, Byer tracked a ball that was hit hard to center field. He plucked it from the grass and zipped it to second base where the Indiana hitter was heading, trying to complete the double. Byer’s throw was on the money and National escaped the inning with the score still tied.

Byer also drew three walks at the plate.

Indiana would add two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but by that time they trailed by 13 runs as National added 10 runs to its total in the top half.

Gulley drilled a two-run homer in the third inning and Lingenfelter followed in the fourth with a solo shot. Singer, who blasted a solo home run in the second inning, capped the fifth with a three-run blast to pad National’s lead.

State College National will now get a rematch against Huntingdon on Tuesday, a team National lost to 16-6 on Sunday. National will have to beat Huntingdon twice to advance to the state tournament, which begins July 21 in Bradford.

“I think we need to approach this game the way we approach every game, which is play within ourselves and let the chips fall where they may,” Shoemaker said.