Off the bat of Cumberland Valley’s Drew Baughman, State College center fielder Brandon Raquet knew the ball would carry “really far” over his head.
Raquet expected it to land near the fence, thinking it might come close to leaving the yard. Cumberland Valley coach Levi Mumma thought it would get down and saw an opportunity to cut into the Little Lions’ three-run lead with one out in the fifth inning, so the Eagles’ Adam Overcash looked to score from first and didn’t bother to freeze with the ball in the air.
Raquet put his head down, sprinted to a spot and tracked it down.
“He’s probably close to world-class speed, but he got to his spot and made the catch,” State College coach Troy Allen said. “It was an amazing catch, but quite frankly, I’m not all that surprised.”
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Overcash was rounding third when Raquet made the catch and threw his hands up helplessly as he walked back to the dugout. There was no reason to even attempt to get back to first base as Raquet threw the ball back to the infield to complete the inning-ending double play.
Raquet’s spectacular play saved a run in a close game, and the Little Lions went on to close out a 5-1 win over Cumberland Valley (11-6) on Tuesday.
The center fielder also paced State College (8-8) with three hits, part of an eight-hit day in support of winning pitcher Gavin Schaefer-Hood.
Schaefer-Hood allowed six hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking four. Christian Friberg recorded a strikeout for the game’s final out.
After allowing a leadoff double and a run to score in the first inning, Schaefer-Hood limited Cumberland Valley’s opportunities. He didn’t allow a hit in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and came one strike away from throwing a complete game before back-to-back singles in the seventh ended his day with a handshake from Allen.
“I can’t say enough,” Allen said. “He did a phenomenal job.”
The Little Lions gave Schaefer-Hood the lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Raquet led off with what appeared to be a bloop single to left field.
But he noted Cumberland Valley left fielder Beck Way’s arm strength before the game and saw he was shaded toward center field, so he decided to go for a double.
“I kind of just put my head down and ran, going for it right off the bat,” Raquet said.
He beat the throw to second to put the pressure on Cumberland Valley pitcher Austin Wacker immediately. After Chris Adams was hit by a pitch, a balk moved Adams and Raquet to second and third. Mumma brought the infield in, looking to prevent the Little Lions from tying the game. Evan Moerschbacher then sent a ground ball up the middle for a two-run single.
A pair of errors led to another State College run in the second inning.
The Little Lions pushed their lead to 4-1 in the fourth after Greg Copenhaver doubled, moved to third on Dalton Barger’s single and scored on an error.
The next inning, when Baughman hammered a 3-2 offering to deep right-center field, the Eagles were aggressive. Overcash, who drew a one-out walk, was running on the pitch and never stopped.
Mumma thought it was too far over Raquet’s head.
“We figured we needed to get at least one more run across,” Mumma said.
Raquet, who is headed to William and Mary, played it perfectly.
When he looked up, he realized it had died and he was right under it to make the catch.
Mumma was impressed, saying not many players would make that play or turn a routine bloop single into a double.
Allen said it’s probably rare to see that play made at the high school level.
“It takes kids a long time to feel comfortable dropping their head and running to a spot,” Allen said. “That was a major-league play. But it’s him, so I’m not really surprised. He’s got the tools to go that far, and that play was indicative of that.”
It was a crucial play in a way that helped the Little Lions climb back to the .500 mark with three games remaining in the regular season, all against District 6 rivals.
State College begins that stretch at Mifflin County on Thursday.