LORETTO — A late-inning rally led Claysburg-Kimmel to a 5-4 win over DuBois Central Catholic in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals at St. Francis University Thursday.
DuBois Central Catholic jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first, as they took advantage of control issues from Claysburg-Kimmel starting pitcher Olivia Bushore.
Ashley Wruble and Shayleigh Gulvas both reached on walks, followed by a RBI single to left by Carley Semancik to score Wruble for the first run of the inning.
Gulvas advanced to third and Semancik to second on a throw from left field to home plate, as Mia Meholick was then intentionally walked to load the bases.
Later in the inning, Maia Cogley hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field to score Gulvas and give the Lady Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
Semancik later came in to score the third run of the frame on a wild pitch, as DCC looked to continue to build on their early lead.
After Chelsea Busatto drew a walk to put runners on the corners, Jordy Kosko drew the fifth walk of the inning, as it looked like DCC would load the bases with two outs.
On ball four of Kosko’s at-bat, Claysburg catcher Harleigh Cavender threw down to third as Meholick was caught off the base for the third out of the inning.
After walking Maddie Nasuti to to start the second, Bushore’s day in the circle was done, as the Lady Bulldogs handed the ball over to Madison Knisley.
Nasuti, the lone senior for the Lady Cardinals, finished the day 1-for-2 at the plate with a single.
After allowing a single to Wruble, Knisley got out of the jam to keep the score at 3-0.
Wruble got off to a strong start in the circle for DCC, allowing just one hit through three innings, but Claysburg-Kimmel broke through in the fourth.
Knisley helped her own cause by hitting a two-out single down the left field line and advanced to second on an error.
Knisley was replaced by courtesy runner Mickenlee Bauman, who came in to score on a double to left-center field by Mikalynn Bauman to bring the score to 3-1 after the fourth.
The DCC lead remained 3-1 into the bottom of the sixth before Claysburg-Kimmel broke through with four runs to take the lead.
After the first batter in the inning grounded out, Emily Claar, Raelynne Grabill and Madison Knisley all reached on walks to load the bases.
Knisley’s walk came after she was injured trying to get out of the batter’s box on a pitch that went to the backstop. After a lengthy delay, Knisley stayed in the game and took three straight balls to complete her walk.
Mikalynn Bauman then drove a pitch through the left side for a RBI single to score Claar and cut DCC’s lead to 3-2.
Cavender followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice to second, as Cogley’s throw home was not in time, as Gabrill scored the tying run.
The Lady Bulldogs took the lead on a wild pitch that allowed Mickinlee Bauman, the courtesy runner for Knisley to score.
Cavender then hit a RBI groundout to second base, bringing Mikalynn Bauman in to score as Claysburg-Kimmel took a 5-3 lead into the seventh.
DuBois Central Catholic head coach George Heigel said it felt like his team was living on the edge for most of the game with early three-run lead.
“You need to keep scoring against a team like this and we had the capability of doing that, but we didn’t,” Heigel said.
Knisley returned to the circle in the seventh being hurt and got Semancik to fly out to deep center field to open the inning.
Meholick then cut the deficit in half with a shot over the fence in center field.
Knisley then forced the next two batters to ground out as the Lady Bulldogs advanced to the semifinal round.
Knisley finished with six innings pitched in relief to record the win, allowing one run on five hits while striking out two.
Heigel said the loss could be directly linked to his team’s inability to put the bat on the ball throughout the middle part of the game, rather than errors and mental mistakes.
“We couldn’t put the bat on the ball against that pitching,” Heigel said. “That was frankly batting practice pitching.”
“We were way out in front of the ball and we just couldn’t time the pitching,” the head coach added.
Heigel closed by saying his team had a good season and has a talented group of players, most of whom will return next season.
The head coach noted that Nasuti, the only member of the team who will not return, had a strong four years with the team and she will be missed by the team.
“We’ll keep battling and we’ll hopefully be in the same position next year and have things end up a little differently,” Heigel said.