State College baseball coach Troy Allen didn’t know why his team never got going offensively this season.
He didn’t have the answer for a two-hit performance Wednesday, either.
The coach was quick to take the blame after his third-seeded Little Lions fell 6-0 to second-seeded Mifflin County in the District 6 Class AAAA semifinals. He and his team had all season to try to figure out their glaring weakness and never did.
“I honestly wish I knew,” Allen said.
State College (11-9) had four baserunners in the game and never reached third as Mifflin County cruised to victory behind a six-run second inning.
The Huskies will take on top-seeded Central Mountain or fourth-seeded Altoona in the district championship game, while the three-time defending district champion Little Lions’ season is over. Central Mountain and Altoona play at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Peyton Reesman allowed two hits and two walks while striking out five in six innings to earn the win.
State College starting pitcher Bailey Ishler took the loss, giving up six runs, six hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.
The Huskies’ bats came to life in the second inning as they scored all six runs on five hits and three walks.
“It’s like nobody wanted to make the last out,” Mifflin County coach Bernie Howard said. “Six runs is uncharacteristic for us. That’s a big output.”
The inning started with a leadoff walk by catcher Isaac Maclay. Nick Hostetler replaced him at first as a courtesy runner and attempted a steal with Reesman facing a 1-2 count.
State College shortstop Chris Adams covered second base due to the pitch call, expecting the right-handed hitting Reesman to go the other way with an offering to the outside. Reesman pulled a ground ball through the open hole left at shortstop for a single.
“If he’s standing at normal depth, it’s a double play,” Allen said.
The inning continued to go the Huskies’ way.
One batter later, with runners on first and third, Tyler Powell sent a single up the middle and Mifflin County led 1-0. Ross Underhill’s one-out single drove in another run, and back-to-back walks brought in the third run.
With two outs, Ty Bodtorf lined an RBI single into center field and Maclay dropped a soft liner into right-center field for a two-run single to push the Huskies ahead 6-0.
All five hits in the decisive inning were singles, and Allen was pleased with Ishler’s effort on the mound.
“It was like I told the team, when you get those seeing-eye singles, that’s just baseball,” Allen said. “He was executing exactly what I wanted and they got some through.”
As Howard said, big innings were rare for the Huskies this season.
They relied on pitching and defense to win games. They managed just one hit in the final four innings Wednesday.
But with their ace left-hander Reesman on the mound, they provided more than enough run support in the second. Reesman, a Pittsburgh commit, battled through back tightness throughout the game before Isaiah Kearns retired the Little Lions in order in the seventh to send Mifflin County to the district title game.
“Peyton is an outstanding pitcher and he’s not going to give you much,” Allen said. “And if he does, you got to make him pay for it.”
State College didn’t capitalize on its limited opportunities.
Mason Mellott led off the third inning with a double to left-center field, and Tyson Cooper followed with a walk.
After a popout, Mellott tried to take third base on a pitch in the dirt, but Maclay recovered to gun him down.
Dalton Barger recorded State College’s second and final hit with a single through the right side of the infield, but he was picked off before Reesman threw another pitch.
Still, with two hits, the Little Lions were never in position to challenge the Huskies.
And Allen will go into the offseason trying to find answers.
“Next year, we certainly got to get our hitting figured out,” Allen said. “We got a ton of pitchers coming back. Defense is going to be sound. We’ll rise again.”