With rain projected for the rest of the week, Bald Eagle Area coach Jim Gardner made getting a win Monday a priority.
It was the first of five games scheduled for the Eagles in a six-day span, but Gardner saw the potential for that busy slate to change due to the weather forecast.
So he turned to ace pitcher Colton Comly to face Penns Valley.
Comly delivered with a complete-game effort to help the Eagles to a 5-1 win over the Rams. The left-hander limited Penns Valley to one run on eight hits and didn’t allow a walk. And he got more than enough support as the Eagles (1-1) broke through for five runs in the sixth inning.
“I was really pleased that we hit throughout our entire lineup,” Gardner said. “And that’s what we needed to do to string together a rally there to score some runs so I was real pleased that we were able to do that. I thought Penns Valley played a real nice game. I thought overall it was a well-played game by both teams.”
Trey Butterworth paced BEA with two hits, while Kody Hamer, Alex Struble and Dylan Burns each had RBI singles. For Penns Valley, Logan Marcum went 2 for 3 and Wyatt Sharp finished 2 for 3 with a double.
Penns Valley (0-2) played well until the top of the sixth, when the Rams committed two errors to contribute to the Eagles’ decisive inning.
“I want them to understand that six-and-a-half innings isn’t enough,” Penns Valley coach Chuck Romig said. “Six-and-a-half innings has netted us an 0-2 record. They have to find a way to put all seven together.”
The teams were in a scoreless tie through five innings.
Comly allowed one hit in the first three innings before running into trouble in the fourth. Penns Valley’s Ryan McElwee and Sharp recorded back-to-back, one-out singles and moved to second and third on a passed ball with two outs.
But Comly got Marcum to fly out to left field to end the threat.
Romig said his players weren’t patient and tried to pull too many pitches, resulting in flyouts. Comly took advantage, getting the Rams to chase pitches off the plate.
“We couldn’t get comfortable,” Romig said. “And that’s the name of the game when it comes to pitching is disturbing a hitter’s timing and that’s what he did all day.”
He also gives Gardner a proven option on the mound after leading the Eagles in wins last season.
Gardner said Comly knows he’s not going to throw the ball by his opponents, but he keeps them guessing. He’s a reliable leader for an inexperienced pitching staff that remains an unknown early in the season.
“He gives us a great start every time out,” Gardner said. “And I think the other guys will look up to that and see how he approaches the game and hopefully they learn from that.”
Keller matched Comly’s effort on the scoreboard for five innings.
Then Ryan Guenot led off the top of the sixth with a single, and Jason Jones fouled back two sacrifice bunt attempts before drilling a line-drive single into center field.
“It’s important that he stayed confident in himself and composed and quickly put that behind him,” Gardner said.
Guenot and Jones remained at first and second after Noah Chambers flew out to shallow right field. Comly followed with a ground ball to second base that got through Penns Valley’s Kevin Sweeley.
The error allowed Guenot to score from second, giving Bald Eagle Area a 1-0 lead.
After getting a strikeout, Keller gave up consecutive RBI singles to Hamer, Struble and Burns — who made up the bottom third of the lineup. Keller lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits in the loss.
BEA tacked on the fifth run thanks to another error in the sixth inning.
Penns Valley got on the board with an RBI single by Marcum in the bottom of the sixth, but the Rams couldn’t recover from the bad inning.
“I told them baseball isn’t going to feel sorry for you,” Romig said. “It’s a tough game.”