See the ball, hit the ball, run the bases and score a bunch of runs. Mix those things together with efficient pitching and good defense and you have the ingredients for a 15-4 State College win over Central Mountain on Monday afternoon in non-conference baseball action.
The game was terminated at the end of the five innings by the mercy rule.
“We are really pleased with the outcome and this was well beyond what we expected coming in here,” Little Lions coach Bill Tussey said. “Central Mountain always battles us tough and when the two of us get together, it is usually a one- or two-run ball game. They have a nice club this year. Coming into the game, we focused on not giving in offensively by trying to stay aggressive on the fastball and it worked.”
Worked might be an understatement as the Little Lions feasted on a foursome of Wildcat pitchers for 15 hits and 15 runs.
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Leading the hit parade for State College (11-3) was Caleb Walls, who was a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBIs.
“I have been hot the past few weeks,” Walls said. “I have just been sticking with my approach (at the plate) to drive the ball the other way and help my team win.”
As for the win being much more than just another victory, Walls said, “It is always nice to beat a District (6) team because you want to get that No. 1 seed to get a home game. Any time you can go out and not only beat a team but manhandle them like we did to get that advantage, it definitely sends a message.”
Joining Walls in the Little Lions’ hit parade were no less than five of his teammates as Brandon Raquet, Calvin Sichler, Ken Craig, Derek Van Horn and Tyler Hall each came up with a pair of hits.
“We have been getting that all year,” Tussey said. “We haven’t always had it like we did today, obviously, but we have a nice lineup. There is no weak spot in our lineup. When they are all playing as well as they are capable of playing, even our seven, eight and nine guys are going to hurt you. When everything is clicking for us, what happened today is what we get.”
The pitching duties were handled effectively by starter Oliver Dailey and reliever Keith LeBarron.
Dailey struggled through a rocky first inning before settling down, while LeBarron came on in the fourth to slam the door shut on the Wildcats.
“He (Dailey) was just too much around the plate, quite frankly,” Tussey said. “It wasn’t a bad outing for him and although he was real sharp in the second inning, he struggled in the first and third innings. Keith (LeBarron) came on and did a nice job. He has a real decent curve ball and when he is mixing his two pitches up and hitting the strike zone, he can be real tough and he accomplished that today.”
The Wildcats (8-4) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but other than another unearned run in the third, that was all the noise they would make.
Facing the 3-0 deficit, the Little Lions batted around in the second to tally five runs, added single markers in the third and fourth before exploding for eight big runs in the fifth to all but put the game away.
Although the win was important to the Little Lions, how important is could be might be measured by the fact that the two teams could meet each other in the Class AAAA playoffs later this month.
“We talked about that before,” Tussey said of the possible playoff preview. “With both of us being District 6 teams, there is a good possibility that we might see each other again in two weeks. For us to play as well as we did today was huge. With this win, we might have put a little doubt in Central Mountain’s mind so the next time we see them they might press a little bit. You just never know.”