For the unbeaten State College 12-year-old Little League All-Stars, having to rally and then hold on for the win in a one-out, bases-loaded situation is a pretty new scenario.
But head coach Matt Gaul said he’s been preparing his team for a game like Saturday’s 6-5 win over Indiana in the opening round of the Section 4 Majors tournament all season, and he wasn’t surprised by what he called the “total team effort.”
“Our kids have just matured an awful lot over a year,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it all summer long, that we’d get into one of these games, and that it’d be sooner rather than later where it was going to be tough and it was going to be a dogfight, and they’re just going to have to be playing every out of the game. And they certainly did that.”
State College took the early lead Sunday afternoon in Mechanicsburg, scoring three runs in the second thanks to a Vincent LaFrazza-Schwartz single to score Finn Powers, and another run scored by Chris Warner. LaFrazza-Schwartz stole home to make it 3-0.
Division 11 champs Indiana answered State College in the third with three runs of its own to tie things up. The game remained 3-3 until State College knocked three in in the fifth. Indiana, however, wasn’t ready to give up.
Trailing 6-3 in the top of the final inning, Indiana managed to score two runs. With the bases loaded and just one out, pitcher Sebastian Rhoades struck out two to secure the win.
“He’s played a lot of baseball; he’s been in those positions before,” Gaul said. “I think it’s finally all clicking and he was ready for that big situation.”
LaFrazza-Schwartz led the offense with two hits and an RBI on two at-bats, while Mikey Gaul knocked in two RBIs on one hit. Rhoades, Gavin Kendrick, Michael Powell, Powers and Ryden Walker also recorded hits for State College.
Kendrick recorded the win on the mound for State College.
State College next plays East Pennsboro at 1 p.m. Sunday in Mechanicsburg. The double-elimination tournament continues through Tuesday, with another game Wednesday, if needed. The winner advances to the state tournament July 21-28.
For real-time updates on that game, go to: https://gc.com/game-5d2a93d3eebfda6b6e9dafd3