A disastrous first inning put Penns Valley in a hole it could not escape from in spite of a valiant comeback, and the Rams fell to Philipsburg-Osceola 6-5 in a Mountain League game here Thursday.
The Mounties took advantage of four Penns Valley errors and four walks to score five runs in the first inning while managing only one hit to shellshock the Rams.
“We shouldn’t have been behind in the first place,” said Ram coach Chuck Romig, addressing his team’s gutty comeback. “There’s no such thing as a moral victory when you give up five unearned runs and lose 6-5. With the exception of the first inning LJ (Johnson) threw a great game. If we had played better defense behind him ... You can’t win when you give up unearned runs.”
Johnson walked four of the first five hitters he faced. Two runs scored on a single by Derek Shaw, another on an infield out by Travis Arnold and two on one of the four errors in the inning. After that Johnson stayed out of trouble until the seventh.
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Aaron Mason led off the bottom of the seventh with a fly to left center that was dropped. Arnold sacrificed Mason to third and Logan Williamson singled sharply up the middle to give P-O the win.
“Logan didn’t try to do too much with that pitch,” said P-O coach Doug Sankey. “We just wanted him to hit the ball on the ground because their pitcher was winding up and Aaron was halfway home.
“It would have been hard to lose that game. It would have been tough to come back from that. We didn’t play our best game but we were still able to come away with a win.”
Penns Valley began chipping away at the P-O lead in the bottom of the first when Curtis Matsko hit leadoff batter Taylor Collison, who moved up on a single by Wyatt Sharp and scored on an error.
In the second the Rams chased Matsko, taking advantage of his control problems by scoring on a bases-loaded walk and a hit batter. Sankey brought in Johnny Harpster at that point and he got a fielder’s choice to strand runners at second and third.
Harpster pitched out of trouble in the third, stranding runners at second and third before Adam DeGarmo opened the fifth with a double into the left-center gap. DeGarmo stole third after Anthony DeGarmo walked. DeGarmo scored on a come backer by Luke Weaver and an error allowed Montresor to score the tying run and chase Harpster.
Mitch Winters came on to get the last out of the inning and pitched out of trouble in the seventh when the Rams left runners at the corners to get the win.
“We left too many runners on base,” Romig said. “We’re still not making contact. We can be a competitive team and I think we will be but we’ve got to get seven solid innings and we’re not doing that yet. The kids have to understand that this is what happens when you don’t make the plays you should.”
Sankey said an eight-day layoff may have contributed to his team’s offensive problems.
‘I wad disappointed with our offensive approach,” he said “We only had what, four hits?”
And while Romig stayed with Johnson the whole way Sankey went deep into his bench to hold off the Rams.
“Curtis (Matsko) wasn’t feeling good today,” he said. “He threw well but he didn’t throw strikes. There was something wrong there. Then Johnny came in and he hadn’t pitched in a couple of weeks and he threw great. And we got Mitch in there at just the right time, I guess. He threw well.”