Two teams that sat out last season’s high school baseball playoffs get into action Monday as Bald Eagle Area and Bellefonte open play in District 6 action.
The second-seeded Eagles (15-5) host No. 7 Mount Union (15-4) in the Class AA tournament, while No. 4 Bellefonte (8-9) welcomes No. 5 Huntingdon (8-10) in the Class AAA playoffs
Huntingdon at Bellefonte
The Red Raiders will be looking for their third victory over the Huntingdon this season. Bellefonte scored 9-7 and 9-2 triumphs in the regular season and Red Raider coach Jeremy Rellinger expects a tussle.
“They’re competitive,” Rellinger said of the Bearcats. “They’ve been competitive both times. Even though they’ve got some youth, they’ve got some good skill players. We’re looking to have to put a stop to certain parts of the game that we feel they’re fairly strong at.”
Despite dropping three of its last four decisions, Rellinger likes the way his team is playing. Two of the losses were one-run decisions and the final was an 8-5 decision at Class AAAA Central Mountain.
“We feel really good about ourselves considering all three phases,” he said. “We’re hitting a good stride, even though we lost a couple of games recently. We’ve been competitive and have played some pretty clean baseball.”
Doylan Deitrich’s .436 average leads the Red Raiders’ attack. Dan Roan (.375), Taylor Butts (.365), Jordan Fye (.361) and Tanner Day (.351) also sport averages above .350 for the Red Raiders, who hit .319 as a team and averaged six runs per game.
“We feel good enough about our lineup up and down to be a threat every inning,” Rellinger said.
Taylor Smith (3-5, 3.56 ERA) will get the ball against Huntingdon.
“He’s experienced,” Rellinger said of his senior captain. “He’s got good composure and typically he’s got good command. That’s what we expect out of a guy with his level of experience.”
Huntingdon enters the contest in the midst of a six-game losing streak, with two of those losses to Bellefonte. The Bearcats are just 1-7 in road games this season.
Rellinger said what has happened in the regular season is now a moot point.
“Right after the Central Mountain game on Friday, we said, ‘All right, we’re 0-0 again. Let’s get right back at it.’ Regardless of anything that’s happened so far, we feel good about where we’re at. It’s certainly one at a time at this point.”
After a year’s absence, the Red Raiders are happy to be back in the postseason.
“For this particular group of seniors, winning hasn’t come easy over the course of their four-year careers here,” Rellinger said. “It’s good to be at this point in time competing at the highest level in terms of the playoffs. They’re excited about it.”
Mount Union at Bald Eagle Area
The Eagles have won five of six heading into the contest against Mount Union, which rallied past Penns Valley in the opening round on Thursday.
BEA, which had a bye, has an outstanding 1-2 punch on the mound in senior Dylan Womer and junior Nate Cleaver. Womer is 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA. He’s fanned 62 batters inn 38 innings. Cleaver is 6-1 with a 3.55 ERA.
The Eagles are hitting .310 as a team and averaging just under seven runs per game.
Cole Long leads the potent attack with a .429 average. Logan Reese is hitting .377 and has driven in a team-high 22 runs. Ben Verbitskey (.333) and Bryce Greene (.333) are also hitting better than .300. Verbitskey and Womer have 15 RBIs each.
The Eagles have been excellent on the basepaths, with 47 steals in 51 attempts. Gage Gardner and Reese have 12 each.
BEA will face the defending district champions, who pulled of a minor miracle on Thursday. Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Trojans scored four times to walk off with a 6-5 stunner against Penns Valley.
Brady Goodling’s three-run homer tied the contest and Trevon Walker’s RBI single completed the comeback.
The Trojans are traditionally one of the state’s best programs. Longtime coach Nick Imperioli won his 700th career game earlier this season.
Cory Kylor is a dangerous hitter in the cleanup spot. Klayton Heffner and Cole Boozel both shared the mound against the Rams.