DIST. 5-A BASEBALL: McConnellsburg jumps on two critical errors in 2-0 defeat of North Star
MCCONNELLSBURG >> This is one that North Star is going to want back.
In the first round of the District 5 Class A baseball playoffs Wednesday afternoon, the Cougars had more hits, put more runners on base and had fewer errors. But the two errors that North Star did have were all that mattered.
In both the second and third innings, McConnellsburg pounced on a pair of errors, scoring twice on attempted double plays, and earned a 2-0 victory, despite having only one hit for the game.
"It was a situation where they tried to turn two double plays, and they were close plays at second," Spartan coach Brian Ramsey said. "The guys hit the ball hard, and (the shortstop) ended up throwing two balls away. That's playoff baseball, though. Sometimes its the little things you do or do not do that separate winning and losing."
With the win, McConnellsburg (17-4) advances to face Meyersdale (19-2) on Friday at Everett at 4:30 in a semifinal game. North Star finishes with a 12-8 record.
"There's only been one team that truly beat us, and that was Meyersdale," Cougar coach Chris Evans said. "The other losses we had, it's been by two runs or less. It's the little mistakes that have been getting us. We had more hits; we just couldn't piece them back to back, and it's just the stupid mistakes that have been our curse all year long."
Although North Star had more hits, it's not like it had that many. Spartan pitcher Chase Novak tossed a three-hitter and needed only 74 pitches to do it.
"I knew coming in, I would have to throw a lot of breaking balls," Novak said. "That's my speciality. I'm not an overpowering pitcher, so I just have to be smart and locate and use a lot of curveballs."
Novak was hitting the strike zone quite well. He fanned six batters and threw just 19 balls.
"He did really well locating," Ramsey said. "He had those kids off balance, and he threw a really wonderful game. There might have been some people that didn't want him to start, but I just had a feeling he would be all right, and he did that."
The Spartans struck first in the bottom of the second. JT Barnard led off with a single – the Spartans' only hit of the game. After a strikeout, Novak drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second. Justin Welsh then smacked a ball to the second baseman, who threw it to second to force Novak out, but when the throw to first went out of play, Barnard was given a free trip to home plate.
"We didn't hit the ball as we should have, but we hit the ball hard," Barnard said. "(Brady Walker) was a good pitcher. It's real important to take advantage of those errors, though, because that's what scored the runs for us tonight."
Basically the same thing happened in the third frame. After a strikeout of the leadoff batter, Landon Richards drew a walk and advanced on a passed ball. Ryan Koontz likewise was walked, and Barnard hit into a potential double play. But again after tagging Koontz out at second, an overthrow went out of play, allowing Richards to score the second run.
"Brady did everything well, which he normally does," Evans said. "We told the guys Brady was going to keep the runs low, so we just have to score more than them. But when you can't put up more than zero runs, you're not going to beat anybody."
McConnellsburg 2 North Star 0
North StarMcConnellsburgabrhbabrhbYoder cf4000Souders ss3000Knupp ss3000Richrds 3b2100Walker p2000Koontz c2000MNovak 1b3000Barnrd 1b3110Malchnck c3020Little rf3000Kimmel 3b2000CNovak p2000Miller lf3000Welsh 2b1000Suder 2b0000Miller lf1000Bloom dh 3000Strait cf2000Tretter rf3010Totals26030Totals19210
E: NS 2, McC 3; LOB: NS 7, McC 4; SAC: Kimmel; SB: Welsh.
North Star pitching
HBP: by Walker (Miller), by C.Novak (Walker).
PB: NS 2, McC 1.