High School Sports

Why outhitting its opponent wasn’t enough for P-O baseball in the PIAA quarterfinals

Under the “City of DuBois” sign in right field at Showers Field, Philipsburg-Osceola showed a one-hit advantage on the final scoreboard over Thursday’s PIAA quarterfinal opponent Franklin.

The runs and errors on the board, however, painted a much different picture of the game.

The Mounties piled up six errors to the Knights’ one miscue, which resulted in a 6-3 victory for the District 10 champions Franklin.

Mounties’ pitchers also uncharacteristically struggled with control through the first five innings — five walks and two hit batters —which was a recipe for disaster when combined with the errors.

“We’ll try not to dwell on this game too much,” P-O coach Doug Sankey said. “We didn’t play too well — Captain Obvious there. They played better than us today.”

The Mounties outhit the Knights 7-6 for the game, which included three blasts that clanked off the odd walls at Showers Field.

Keegan Soltis nearly blasted a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the third inning. Franklin’s only error of the game came on the play on an errant throw to second base, which resulted in Nate Gustkey and Soltis scoring anyway to tie the game at 2-2.

In the first inning, Soltis also nearly cleared the 28-foot high center field wall, which was 333-feet away from home.

Even with the mistakes piling up for the Mounties, they brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the sixth after starting the frame down 6-2.

Trey Shaw banged a single off the center field wall and he later scored on Landon McDonald’s RBI single.

After a Carson Jones walk, Micah Martin came up as the potential tying run, but he struck out on a high fastball on a 3-2 count.

“I thought we would hit the starter pretty well,” Sankey said. “We hit the ball pretty hard. I thought eight runs would win it. I was thinking we would score seven or eight runs off them, but we just couldn’t get a big hit.”

The Mounties were able to ride the hot pitching hand of Ryan Whitehead through the first four games of their postseason run, but the sophomore was unable to pitch after beating Steel Valley 3-1 Monday.

Thursday’s starter Bubba Slogosky showed some rust on the mound in his first game action since May 15, giving up three runs (one earned) and walking four in three-plus innings of action.

“You have to win one at a time but it was a hard spot to put Bubba in,” said Sankey of using Whitehead exclusively in the playoffs until Thursday. “He hasn’t pitched since Hollidaysburg. He threw in practices but it’s not quite the same.”

Carson Jones also struggled in relief, allowing three runs (one earned) and three hits, before freshman Nick Coudriet righted the ship with two scoreless innings to close out the game.

Franklin coach Brian Schmidt thought his team had some chances to break open the game but he credited P-O’s pitchers for coming up with big pitches in too many tough spots.

The Knights (23-1) advance to Monday’s PIAA semifinals where they’ll take on Mount Union at a time and venue to be determined.

The Knights will look to extend their 22-game winning streak against Mount Union, who defeated the Mounties 1-0 in nine innings in the District 6 championship on May 28.

Meanwhile, the Mounties finish the season with a 16-8 record, which included their first PIAA victory since 2012 — a 3-1 upset of WPIAL champ Steel Valley.

“It’s just a great group of guys — 10 seniors and Micah, Landon, and Trey all lettered as freshmen,” Sankey said. “The rest of them are all two-, three-year lettermen. It’s just a good group.”