After surprising District 6 Class AA No. 2 seed Bishop McCort in the first round on Thursday, the Philipsburg-Osceola baseball team fell short of a second upset on Monday afternoon.
Although they took an early lead, the 15th-seeded Mounties lineup went silent after the first four innings as they fell to No. 10 Penn Cambria 5-3 in the quarterfinals at Lilly-Washington War Memorial Park.
The loss ended a very up-and-down season for P-O with a record of 9-12. The Mounties finished off the regular season with an 8-6 record in their last 14 games after starting the year at 0-5.
“Our consistency has been the story for us all year,” Mountie head coach Doug Sankey said. “That’s why we’re right around .500. We play really well, and then we don’t play so well, but we didn’t play too bad today.”
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P-O got to Panther pitcher Zane Itle early with a run each in the second, third and fourth innings. Mitch Winters, Isaac Knepp and Levi Hughes all had RBI singles in the first four innings.
However, Itle retired 11 of his last 13 batters as he kept the P-O lineup at bay for the rest of the game. Itle, who also threw many pitches in Penn Cambria’s first-round win over Ligonier Valley on Thursday, allowed three earned runs on nine hits and struck out four.
“He pitched, went to short and then came back in to pitch (on Thursday),” said Sankey. “That’s very difficult to do, and then he came back today on three days’ rest.
“I thought he kept getting stronger as the game went on. He’s going to be sore tomorrow. I thought the more at-bats we got and the more pitches he threw, that he would wear down. I knew he threw a lot on Thursday, but he kept getting stronger.”
P-O starting pitcher Cam Domblisky allowed just one run in the first three frames before running into trouble in the fourth. The sophomore walked Jordan Simanski, gave up a single to Mason Ronan and issued another free pass to Garrett Martynuska to load the bases with no outs.
Domblisky got a sacrifice fly for the first out that scored Simanski before Sankey elected to bring in freshman Josh Earnest. Domblisky allowed three earned runs and five hits in 31/3 innings.
“Cam has been our No. 2 pitcher for us all year,” Sankey said. “His ERA is around 1. He had Bald Eagle Area no-hit through three or four. He’s effective. He’s strong when he can get ahead and mix pitches. He fell behind on a few of their guys, but they hit the ball.”
Itle put down a suicide-squeeze bunt on Earnest’s first pitch to tie the game at three apiece.
Earnest also gave up run-scoring singles to Jonah Diehl and Ronan in the bottom of the fifth as Penn Cambria scored its final two runs of the game.
The Mounties graduate four seniors, and will return most of the starting lineup next year.
“It’s just been a roller coaster all year,” Sankey said. “We’re not one of those groups of kids where you have seven or eight guys that have played together. We have four seniors here. We have a young team.
“They just need to realize that you have to bring it every game. You have to have that enthusiasm every game. You can’t just be fired up at home or on Monday games or on Thursday games. It has to be more consistent.”