Philipsburg-Osceola pitcher Gage Coudriet allowed Bald Eagle Area to reach scoring position in four of the first five innings.
Each time, Coudriet escaped unscathed.
And each time, he recorded a strikeout to end the threat.
Coudriet pitched a complete game and led the Mounties to a 5-0 win over the Eagles on Friday at Doc Etters Field.
“He never gave in,” Philipsburg-Osceola coach Doug Sankey said, “and that was the key for the game.”
The sophomore right-hander mixed his pitches to keep BEA off balance and pounded the strike zone, scattering six hits, striking out five and allowing one walk. He also had an RBI single to push his team’s lead to two runs in the sixth inning.
The Mounties (3-0) scored three runs in the seventh to put the game out of reach.
Bald Eagle Area (1-1) finished 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
“I hate to dwell on that because that was our issue all last year,” BEA coach Jim Gardner said. “I just told the guys, I believe in you, all the coaches believe in you, and I believe that their teammates, they all believe in each other. They have to dig inside, it has to come within them and have the confidence that they can get it done.”
The Eagles threatened in the first three innings.
But Coudriet made big pitches in each pressure situation.
Ryan Guenot reached on an error to start the bottom of the first and stole second base on a strikeout. With two outs, Coudriet struck out BEA’s Andy Swabick looking at a breaking ball.
In the second inning, with the Mounties ahead 1-0 and the tying run on third base with two outs, Coudriet went to his curveball again. A.J. Onder went down swinging at the pitch in a 3-2 count.
Coudriet ran into more trouble in the third after Brandon Barnyak led off with a bunt single and Trey Butterworth lined a one-out double to left field.
But the Eagles left the tying and go-ahead runs on base as Coudriet got a popout and struck out Swabick.
Coudriet said he stays relaxed whenever he’s on the mound.
“My mindset is the same as when there’s nobody on base,” Coudriet said of his approach to each jam. “I just go in there and do my job and throw strikes.”
Coudriet did just that to protect the Mounties’ lead in the fifth.
With runners on first and third, Coudriet got ahead of BEA’s Noah Chambers 1-2. After a curveball in the dirt, Coudriet got Chambers swinging for his fifth strikout.
“He just continued to pound the strike zone and wasn’t afraid to throw his curveball in fastball counts — 2-1, 2-0, he was still throwing his curveball for strikes,” Sankey said.
With Coudriet locating his curveball, the Eagles couldn’t sit on his fastball.
And they couldn’t rely on the Mounties pitcher to make mistakes. He gave up his first and only walk with two outs in the seventh inning.
By that point, P-O owned a comfortable 5-0 lead.
The Mounties got on the board in the second inning when BEA pitcher Brian Egan attempted to pick off Brandon Kephart at first. Kephart took off for second, and courtesy runner Micah Martin scored from third.
Coudriet’s RBI single in the sixth made it 2-0. Derek Shaw’s RBI single and Isaac Knepp’s two-run single pushed the lead to 5-0 in the seventh.
Egan pitched a complete game in the loss and finished with nine strikeouts. He allowed two hits and one run in the first five innings.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Gardner said. “What happens throughout a game as a team scores a couple runs and gets a lead, they can relax, have fun and they can steal third base with a 3-0 lead and take some chances and have some fun.
“When you’re down and haven’t scored yet, you’re uptight. You can’t take those chances.”