CLARION — Despite being shorthanded with their pitching, the New Bethlehem Junior League All-Star team battled Titusville to a hard fought 5-4 loss last Friday night at Paul A. Weaver Baseball Complex.
New Bethlehem fell behind 5-1 through 3 1/2 innings before rallying for a run in the bottom of the fourth and two in the fifth in closing to within a run at 5-4. It rallied and had runners at second and third in the bottom of the seventh before a strikeout ended the contest, giving Titusville the championship.
Titusville heads to the Section 1 Tournament this week in Guys Mills.
New Bethlehem, after starting with a 12-2 win over Oil City and 6-1 win over Titusville in the winners’ bracket final, dropped two straight to Titusville, including a 13-2 loss last Wednesday in Oil City.
“We were very short in pitching and had guys throw who don’t normally throw for us tonight,” said New Bethlehem manager Alan Clouse. “Ty Hetrick did a great job as he threw 80-plus pitches which is more than he’s thrown all year. We knew we were short so we just went out and did what we could do. We took it right to the end and were just one hit away from winning.”
Titusville scored two runs in the first while adding single runs in the second, third, and fourth innings. New Bethlehem countered with a run in the second, one in the fourth, and two in the fifth courtesy of a two-run home run by Tate Minich.
Landon Baker began the game with a single. Ashton Burleigh then drew a walk. After two outs, Kasen Neely hit a two-run double to give Titusville a 2-0 lead. Kameron Mong then retired New Bethlehem in order in the bottom of the inning.
Titusville added a run in the second as Elliott Armstrong singled after one out. Baker and Burleigh would each single, Armstrong would be thrown out at the plate, but when the catcher made an errant throw to second in an attempt to get Burleigh at second, Baker would score on the play for a 3-0 lead.
New Bethlehem got on the board in the bottom of the second as Cam Wagner and Colton Shick each singled to start the inning. Wagner moved to third on the Shick single. Wagner then scored on an RBI ground out by Mason Clouse to cut the lead to 4-1 after two.
Mong hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Drew Wheeling who had walked and stole second. Neely added a single ahead of the flyout for a 5-1 lead.
Titusville added its final run in the fourth taking advantage of three walks and an error.
New Bethlehem plated a run in the bottom of the fourth as Colton Shick walked, stole second, and moved to third on a wild pitch. Mason Clouse then hit a ground ball to second and the throw home would have been in time to get Shick at the plate, but the catcher dropped the ball which cut the lead to 5-2 after four.
New Bethlehem then added two runs in the fifth Tyler Hetrick drew a one out walk. After a sacrifice bunt, Tate Minich drove a ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run which cut the lead to 5-4. Titusville then replaced starting pitcher Mong with Wheeling and Cam Wagner promptly greeted the new pitcher with a double to the center field fence. A strikeout then ended the inning.
Titusville threatened in the top of the sixth putting runners at second and third with one out following a pair of errors, but a pop out to shortstop and a strikeout ended the threat leaving the score 5-4.
Titusville also put runners at second and third in the seventh, but failed to score.
In the bottom of the seventh Tyler Hetrick walked after one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. After a strikeout Hetrick moved to third on another wild pitch. Minich was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a defensive indifference. However, a strikeout ended the scoring threat and closed out the game.
“We had some timely hits and that big home run,” said Alan Clouse. “We got two runners on in the seventh, but we just couldn’t find a way to get them in.”
Landon Baker, Kasen Neely, and Kameron Mong each had two hits for Titusville. Ashton Burleigh added a hit. Neely hit then only extra base hit with a double. Neely picked up two RBIs while Drew Wheeling and Mong each added one RBI.
Cam Wagner had two hits to lead New Bethlehem. Minich and Shick each had one hit. Wagner hit a double while Minich hit a home run.
Mong picked up the win on the mound with 4 2/3 innings pitched allowing four earned runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out five. Wheeling picked up the save pitching the final 2 1/3 innings allowing one hit, one walk, one hit batter, and six strikeouts.
Matt Kozma started and allowed four runs, three earned in three innings pitched. He allowed six hits, three walks, and three strikeouts. Tyler Hetrick suffered the loss allowing one unarned run on one hit. He walked four and struck out three.
“These boys played great,” said Alan Clouse. “I’m very proud of them. We saw some of the kids really step up and we’re looking forward to next year.”