State College took advantage of its scoring opportunities and Bald Eagle Area didn’t which is how the Little Lions left windswept Doc Etters Field with an 11-0, six-inning win over the Eagles Friday.
The Little Lions struck for a pair of runs in the first inning thanks to back-to-back doubles to left field by Sam Plafcan and Harrison Walls.
BEA appeared ready to answer when it loaded the bases with one out on singles by Ryan Guenot, Jason Jones and Noah Chambers. But State College starter Tristen Ballenger induced Colton Comly to hit a come backer which turned into a 1-2-3 double play to kill the rally.
“That’s been the story of our season,” said BEA coach Jim Gardner, who saw his team lose its eighth straight game. “We hit into three double plays yesterday (Thursday) and then we did it again today. When we find an opportunity to score we can’t cash in. Getting a timely hit has been our biggest concern through this stretch. This stretch is worse than anything I’ve been through as a player or a coach.
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“We just can’t find the answer. We don’t have any trouble getting on base but then we can’t get the big hit and that’s what has contributed to this streak.”
The Little Lions, who enjoyed the 20-minute bus ride to Wingate as opposed to the two-hour trips they usually endure in the Mid Penn Conference, blew the game open in the second inning, taking advantage of four walks by BEA starter Brandon Barnyak, a triple by Walls, a double by Plafcan and a sacrifice fly by Chris Boal to put seven runs on the board and chase Barnyak. Plafcan finished the day with three hits, two of them doubles, and three RBIs while Walls added a double to his triple and also had three RBIs.
“Bald Eagle gave us that big inning early,” said Little Lion coach Bill Tussey. “They walked a few and we got a couple of key hits. When we got that big lead it changed the complexion of the game. I was pleased that we executed when we had the opportunity for a big inning.”
Ballenger took advantage of the chance to work with a big cushion. He finished the day with a six-hitter, walking three and striking out four.
“We needed that from him,” Tussey said. “This is our third game this week and we have one tomorrow. We were hoping he could go the distance. He was a little wild in spots but he kept the ball down well.”
The game was the first time in several years that the county rivals were able to arrange what had once been an annual battle.
“I miss that,” Tussey said. “We always played all of the county schools. But then State College grew and we’re all different sizes now. There was always a special feel to this game. Bald Eagle always competed. Today in that first inning they came out and put pressure on us right away. Then we got that ground ball to get out of the inning.”
The Little Lions put the game into the mercy rule in the sixth when Tyler Hall bounced a two-run single up the middle against reliever Cody Hamer to make it 11-0.
“We’re struggling right now,” Gardner said. “This is a good bunch of kids, good athletes, but we have to make or own breaks and we need that to happen soon.”