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The Elk County Catholic Crusader baseball squad fended off a rally by the Port Allegany Gators on Thursday afternoon to record an 18-8 victory in six innings during a quarterfinal contest at Berwind Park in St. Marys.
"We were up 6-1 and they (Port) kept fighting to come back. They had a big inning, and we let them back in the game, and at least our kids stayed focused enough to keep fighting back and keep battling on," said ECC coach Tom Zampogna.
Jack Herzing started on the mound for the Crusaders, working three and two-thirds innings and giving up five hits, walking four, and striking out five. Brandon Schlimm worked the final two and one-third innings in relief, giving up three hits, walking two, and striking out six.
"Brandon had another big day for us," Zampogna said. "Jack pitched well as well. Overall, I think our pitching was good and our hitting was great tonight."
Sam Kysor started on the mound for the Gators, working one inning and giving up six hits while walking one. Cory Burr worked the next one and two-thirds innings, walking six. Chad Gaines took over on the mound for the next two and one-third innings, giving up seven hits, walking one, and striking out one. RJ Veilleux worked one-third of an inning, giving up three hits and walking two, and then Matt Bodamer worked the final one-third of an inning on the mound, giving up two hits while walking one.
"It looked as though they (Port) were out of pitching toward the end of the game, but the kid that started for them pitched well," Zampogna said.
ECC recorded 17 hits in the contest, led by Joe McLaughlin with a double and a pair of singles. Pat Brennen, Dan Singer, Ivan Wortman, Vincent Jacob and Shea Meyer each recorded a pair of singles. Brock McCullough doubled, and Jack Herzing, Ben Cortina, and Bryan Haberberger all singled.
The Gators had eight hits, led by Sam Kysor and Rick Bova, who each had a double and a single. Matt Bodamer had a pair of singles, Tyler Shaffer hit a triple, and Charlie Buchanan singled.
"Their (Port's) first four hitters were sharp," Zampogna said. "They put the ball in play every time they came up. Fundamentally, they were a very sound team. They played a good defensive game."
With one out in the top of the first inning, Matt Bodamer reached base on a single and advanced all the way to third on an error on the play. A double by Sam Kysor scored Bodamer and gave the Gators an early 1-0 lead. Rick Bova grounded out to the first baseman and Cory Burr flied out to right field to keep Port from adding to their advantage. In the home half of the inning, Pat Brennen singled and advanced on an error that saw Brock McCullough reach base. A single by Dan Singer scored both Brennen and McCullough, and Singer made it to second on an error on the play. A single by Ivan Wortman advanced Singer to third. Jack Herzing brought about the first out for the Crusaders as he flied out to center field. Singer scored on the play, increasing ECC's lead. With Joe McLaughlin up to bat, Wortman stole second and was able to score as McCullough doubled. Ben Cortina flied out to center field for the second out of the inning for ECC. Vincent Jacob walked to put another runner on base, and he and McLaughlin both scored on a single by Shea Meyer. Meyer made it to second on an error on the play, but was left stranded as Brennen flied out to center field to end the inning with ECC on top, 6-1.
Port Allegany cut into the Crusaders' lead in the second inning. With one out, Herzing walked both Garrett Drabert and Zach Sigafoes and both scored on a triple by Tyler Shaffer. Charlie Buchanan flied out to right field for the second out. Bodamer walked to put runners on the corners for Port. A single by Kysor scored Shaffer, and a single by Bova scored Bodamer. Both Kyser and Bova were left on base, though, as Burr struck out with ECC still ahead 6-5. In the bottom half of the inning, McCullough flied out to the shortstop for the first out. Singer walked and later stole second. Wortman flied out to the third baseman. Herzing walked to put another runner on base, and McLaughlin ended the inning by grounding to the third baseman, who tagged the base to get Singer out.
Port's batters went down in order in the top of the third. Burr walked Cortina, Jacob, and Meyer in the bottom of the inning to load the bases for ECC with no outs. Brennen flied out to center and McCullough flied out to the shortstop. Singer walked, scoring Cortina, and Port made a pitching change. With Gaines taking over on the mound, Wortman grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning with ECC extending their lead to 7-5.
The Gators tied things up in the top of the fourth. Herzing struck out Shaffer to get the first out. Buchanan reached base on an error and later stole second and third. Bodamer flied out to center for the second out, and Kysor walked. After ECC changed pitchers, putting Schlimm on the mound, Bova hit a double, scoring both Buchanan and Kysor, and tying the score at 7-all. Burr struck out, leaving Bova stranded on base. ECC retook the lead in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Cortina singled and advanced on a walk by Vincent Jacob. A single by Meyer scored Cortina, giving Elk an 8-7 lead. Brennen flied out to left field to end the inning.
Chris Lashway walked to put a runner on for Port in the top of the fifth, but was unable to advance as Schlimm struck out the next two batters and Shaffer flied out to the shortstop. ECC added three more runs in the bottom of the inning to help pad their lead. McCullough led off with a double and scored on a single by Singer. A single by Wortman put Singer on third. Herzing flied out to left field for the first out. McLaughlin singled and reached second on an error that allowed both Singer and Wortman to score on the play. Cortina flied out to left field for ECC's second out. Jacob singled, advancing McLaughlin to third. Both were left on base, though, as Meyer flied out to left field, ending the inning with the Crusaders ahead 11-7.
Port scored their final run in the top of the sixth. Buchanan led off with a single and advanced on a single by Bodamer. Kysor struck out for the first out and ECC intentionally walked Bova to load the bases for Port. A fielder's choice allowed Buchanan to score and also saw Burr reach first, keeping the bases loaded for the Gators. Schlimm got the Crusaders out of the jam, though, as he struck out the next two batters to keep ECC ahead, 11-8. The Crusaders used a strong showing in the bottom half of the inning to pull ahead by 10 runs and secure the hard-fought victory. Brennen started things off with a single and advanced all the way to third on an error on the play. McCullough was hit by a pitch to give ECC runners on the corners, and Singer walked to load the bases. Wortman flied out to center, scoring Brennen. Herzing singled, scoring McCullough. McLaughlin singled, scoring Singer. Cortina walked, reloading the bases for the Crusaders. In an effort to get out of the jam, Port changed pitchers, putting Bodamer on the mound. Vincent Jacob singled, scoring Herzing. Bryan Haberberger singled, scoring McLaughlin. Brennen walked, scoring Wes Brennen, who was pinch running for Cortina. McCullough flied out to center for the second out and Jacob scored on the play to put ECC up 18-8, ending the game and giving the Crusaders the win.
ECC is now 15-6 on the season and will face the top-seeded Johnsonburg Rams on Tuesday in a semifinal match-up at a site and time to be announced. Johnsonburg defeated Smethport 10-1 on Thursday afternoon.
In other District 9 A baseball action, Brockway beat Clarion 6-4 and Coudersport recorded a 9-1 win over Clarion-Limestone.
Port Allegany 8
Charlie Buchanan 4-2-1, Matt Bodamer 3-2-2, Sam Kysor 3-1-2, Rick Bova 3-0-2, Cory Burr 4-0-0, Chris Lashway 3-0-0, Chad Gaines 0-0-0, Garrett Drabert 3-1-0, Zach Sigafoes 2-1-0, Tyler Shaffer 3-1-1. Totals 28-8-8.
Elk Catholic 18
Pat Brennen 5-2-2, Brock McCullough 5-3-1, Dan Singer 2-3-2, Ivan Wortman 5-2-2, Jack Herzing 4-1-1, Joe McLaughlin 5-2-3, Ben Cortina 3-2-1, Wes Brennen 0-1-0, Vincent Jacob 2-2-2, Brandon Schlimm 0-0-0, Shea Meyer 3-0-2, Bryan Haberberger 1-0-1, Ryan Childs 0-0-0. Totals 35-18-17.
Score by innings R
Port 140 201 8
ECCHS 601 137 18