The Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties made a long trek for their District 6 Class AA quarterfinal final matchup against the Richland Rams. They left knowing that another long trip awaited them as they scored an 8-1 victory over the Rams on Monday to book their spot in the semifinals.
Both the Mounties and Rams went through a feeling out process as the starting pitchers Isaac Knepp and Nolan Bloom dueled to a scoreless tie after three innings.
The Mountaineers drew first blood by cracking Bloom in the top of the fourth inning with a combination of timely hitting and Richland mistakes.
Following a throwing error by Bloom that loaded the bases, Brandon Kephart worked the count and forced a walk to score the breakthrough run. Third baseman Trey Shaw laced an opposite-field single to plate two more runners and give the Mountaineers a 3-0 lead.
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With a lead on the scoreboard, the Mounties turned to Knepp to make sure it remained intact.
“(Knepp) threw really well for us today,” said Mounties coach Doug Sankey. “His curveball was really on and when he can locate that he’s very effective.”
The Richland offense could never find a rhythm against Knepp, and anytime it seemed they were getting momentum at the plate, Knepp found another gear to shut down any attempt at a rally.
Another Rams error came back to haunt them in the fifth inning, and it helped the Mounties extend their lead. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, an errant throw by shortstop Andrew Frear put a runner on first instead of closing out the inning. That error was followed by two wild pitches that advanced the runner to third base before a run-scoring single by Gage Coudriet.
“Everybody contributed today, everybody was on base at least once,” Sankey said. “I thought that was as good as we’ve played all season.”
P-O stretched its lead even further in the sixth inning, plating four more runs to put the game out of reach.
Richland posted its run on the scoreboard in the seventh inning as Frear singled in Ben Saloga to set the final at 8-1 and ruin Knepp’s shutout bid in the process.
Frear reflected on the season following the loss.
“We really came together as a family this year,” Frear said. “Even as we leave and move on there we’ll have these memories to look back on.”