DuBOIS — The Elk-McKean Senior League All-Stars used a big third inning to break a scoreless tie as it never looked back on the way to a 7-2 victory over Oil Valley in the State tournament at Showers Field Wednesday night.
The game was the first in the tournament for each team as Elk-McKean moves into the winners’ bracket while Oil Valley will face elimination for the remainder of the tourney.
Five of Elk-McKean’s seven hits in the win came in that third inning as it used strong hitting and some small ball to push across four runs.
Oil Valley had a chance to take the early lead in the bottom of the first when Tyler Durstine reached on a two-out walk and Kolin Baker followed by doubling over the center fielder’s head.
Elk-McKean starting pitcher Harley Morris then fell behind 3-0 on the next batter Cameron Kinney who looked to come through with a big two-out hit.
Instead Morris battled back, firing three straight strikes, paining the outside corner on the last to strike out Kinney looking and end the threat.
The game remained scoreless into the third before the Elk-McKean bats began to heat up as Kaden Dennis led off with a double to right-center before Dalton Stahli reached on an infield single to short before moving to second on a fielder’s indifference.
Ethan Wells followed by laying down a sacrifice bunt, as Dennis came in to score the game’s first run on the play while Stahli moved up to third.
Luke Zimmerman then bunted for a single to put runners on the corners, as Elk-McKean then attempted a double steal.
Zimmerman broke for second as Oil Valley through down before quickly throwing back to home, but the throw was not in time as Stahli came across to score while Zimmerman moved up to second.
After a fly out to second resulted in the second out of the inning, a pair of key two-out hits allowed Elk-McKean to double its lead.
First it was Camron Marciniak, who delivered a single into right to score Zimmernan as he moved up to second on the throw to the plate.
Morris then helped his own cause by singling back up the middle to bring home Marciniak and push the lead to 4-0.
Oil Valley finally got on the board in the fifth against relief pitcher Dennis, pushing across a pair of runs to cut the deficit in half.
After Dennis retired the first two batters of the inning by way of a groundout to second and a strikeout, Andrew Burda kept the inning alive with a single to center.
Durstine then drew a walk before Baker singled back up the middle to bring home Burda and bring the score to 4-1.
Kinney followed with another two-out RBI, driving a single to left to plate Durstine as Elk-McKean took a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning.
The away side then added a pair of unearned runs in the next half inning to push its lead back to four runs.
Reese Novosel and Domenic Allegretto got the inning started with back-to-back walks, as Novosel was replaced by special pinch runner Collin Porter.
Dennis then looked to move the runners up with a sacrifice bunt which he laid down back to the pitcher.
Oil Valley pitcher Garrett Knepp attempted to get the out at first, but his throw was off target and skipped off Dennis’ helmet and rolled down the right-field line.
The throwing error allowed both Porter and Allegretto to come around to score, giving Elk-McKean a 6-2 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth.
Elk-McKean turned to its third pitcher of the day in the sixth, as Aiden Zimmerman took the mound and promptly struck out the side to send the game into the seventh.
In the top of the seventh, Marciniak led off by reaching on a hit by pitch before later scoring on a wild pitch to bring the score to 7-2.
Aiden Zimmerman worked around a lead off single in the bottom of the inning, retiring the next three batters in order to close out the victory.
“It’s not exactly the way we would’ve painted it up, but we got the W and once again our small ball played a big role,” Elk-McKean manager Casey Zimmerman said. “Our defense was consistent, our pitchers did a nice job and it’s kinda like our recipe.”
“We don’t get too crazy sometimes, but we find a way to get the job done. Everyone knows there role and that’s what we try to do.”
Elk-McKean is back in action today against Pennridge in a winners’ bracket game at 8 p.m. while Oil Valley will face Hanover Township in an elimination game at 2 p.m.