DuBOIS — Penn State DuBois is back on top of the USCAA baseball world.
The Nittany Lions claimed their second straight Small College World Series title by defeating Bryant & Stratton 12-7 in a winner-take-all championship game Thursday evening at Showers Field.
DuBois entered the final day of tournament action as the lone undefeated team at 3-0 as it had two chances to defeat the Bobcats for the title.
No. 7 seed Bryant & Stratton was able to win its fifth elimination game over two days in the first meeting securing a 6-1 win.
In the second contest, the Lions proved to be too much for the Bobcats, who were playing in their eighth game over the four-day Series, as they powered their way to the title-clinching victory.
“It’s about the seniors, the players, the community and every single person here,” Penn State DuBois head coach Tom Calliari said. “We’ve built a good family program here and I hope people appreciate and don’t take this stuff for granted because it doesn’t happen very often.”
“I’m just proud to be in the position I am and I am proud of every kid on this team and the effort they give.”
The long ball was key for DuBois in last year’s title win as Joey DiPietro came through with a key grand slam in a 10-2 victory over top seed Apprentice School.
The Lions have continued to rely on the deep ball to carry them to a regular season PSUAC title, a PSUAC tournament crown and back into the World Series.
DuBois has hitters with the ability to clear the fences up and down the lineup, from the likes of Clayton Bulter, who homered in each of the team’s first two games at the series, to Vince McDowell, Lance Pennington, Isaac Stouffer and the list goes on.
With everything on the line, the Lions’ bats certainly did not disappoint, as one of those main power hitters Vince McDowell came through with a pair of homers in the victory.
However, the biggest hit off the game came off the bat of eventual tournament MVP Toner Corl, who cleared the bases with a grand slam over the right-center field wall in the top of the fifth inning.
At the time, DuBois held just a slim 4-3 lead, as Corl’s shot proved to be the game-winner and propelled the team to its second title in as many years.
“I was running around the bases saying ‘that’s gone, that’s gone,’ and it was just a great moment,” Corl said. “I knew we just needed to score a couple more runs to start to the take the wind out of their sails.”
He added that it meant a lot to play a role in sending the senior class and other transfers out with a World Series win.
“I love them all and they are all my brothers,” Corl said. “It was nice they could end their season on a win and I think Garrett Brown said it the best when he said it was alright that we lost the first game because we wanted to play one more game anyway.”
McDowell added a two-run shot that gave the Lions that 4-3 advantage in the top of the third, then a solo shot in the eighth to give his team a bit of a cushion after the Bobcats had trimmed the deficit to 9-6.
After struggling in the first game, finishing with just four hits, DuBois got off to a hot start in the ‘if-necessary’ game.
Playing as the away team in the second game, the Lions took the early lead in the top of the first inning.
After the first batter of the frame was sat down, Pennington reached on a single to right before Stouffer doubled to right field to put runners on second and third with one away.
McDowell then delivered an RBI single to right to score Pennington, as Stouffer later scored when Brandon Gettig hit an infield single to third as DuBois took the early 2-0 lead.
The Bobcats, who fought their way to the championship game out of the losers; bracket after suffering a 4-0 loss to DuBois Tuesday, was certainly not going to go down without a battle.
Bryant & Stratton recaptured the lead in the bottom of the second with three runs of its own, as Marlinson Brunken came through with a two-run home run to put his team up 3-2.
In the next half inning, McDowell delivered his first of two homers on the day, driving a pitch over the wall in right to bring home Pennington who had led off the frame with a walk.
“I think the key to the whole game was we got on top early,” Calliari said. “We got some momentum, if we had gotten behind the guys would’ve started tensing up a little bit.”
“They (Bryant & Stratton) were tired, game three for them today, and we just capitalized and kept pounding on them.”
The DuBois head coach noted that the Bobcats were a classy group throughout the tournament and said his team’s toughness was key in winning the final game of the day.
“These are tough western Pennsylvania kids who just don’t know how to quit,” Calliari said of his team. “We rise to any adversity and that is a tribute to their families, the character of the kids and western PA and that’s how it’s done here.”
The game remained tight into the fourth as DuBois held a 4-3 lead, that is when Corl came through in a big way.
The Lions were able to load the bases with one away without recording a hit, as Stouffer reached on an error, McDowell worked a walk and Gettig was hit by a pitch.
Next up was Corl, who got a pitch to drive and did just that, as with one swing of the bat the sophomore extended his team’s lead from one run to five.
The Bobcats were able to get one of those runs back in the bottom half of the fifth, as the score remained 8-4 into the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, Thayne Morgan pinch hit for DuBois, as he hit a soft grounder just to the left of the mound and used his speed to beat out the throw for an infield single.
Morgan then stole second and later scored on a single by Corl to push the Lions’ lead back to five runs.
Bryant & Stratton continued to battle in the bottom of the inning, as Ivinson Batista singled to center with one out and Jion Cras followed with a two-run homer to right to bring the score to 9-6.
DuBois added three insurance runs in the eighth behind a strong two-out approach at the plate.
After the first two batters of the inning were retired, McDowell delivered his second long ball of the evening, driving a pitch to almost the exact same location of his first homer of the night to give the Lions a four-run advantage.
Morgan kept the two-our rally going by singling to left, then Gettig was able to reach on a walk to put two aboard.
Corl then delivered his third RBI hit of the game, sending a pitch off the wall in right-center to plate both runners and stretch the lead to six.
Corl finished the game 3-for-4 and drove in seven runs to help lead DuBois to victory, as he finished the tournament 7-for-14 at the plate and also pitched a complete game to lead DuBois to its victory over Bryant & Stratton Tuesday.
“I’ve worked hard all year and in years before and it was nice to see all that hard working building up and building up then finally paying off in the biggest game on the biggest stage,” Corl said.
The Bobcats got one run back in the bottom of the inning to get within five runs, but that was as close as they would come.
Like he has all season and career long, Brandon Orsich came up big on the mound for DuBois, as he pitched 6 1/3 innings in relief, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four to record the win.
Calliari handed the ball over to senior Justin Orlowski for the final two outs, as Orsich exited to a loud ovation from the hometown crowd.
Orlowski was able to for a fly out and then a ground out to second, as Gettig fired to Stouffer at first and the celebration was on.
In the first championship game, DuBois was unable to get anything going against Bobcats starting pitcher Zach Mattos.
Mattos pitched a complete game, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks while fanning five to send things to the winner-take-all game.
The Lions lone run of the game came when they were trailing 6-0 in the bottom of the eighth, as Trevor Hanna doubled down the left-field line and later scored on a groundout by Stouffer.
Bryant & Stratton had already survived one elimination game on the day, after doing so twice Wednesday as well, as it edged top-seeded Apprentice School 4-3 in the losers’ bracket final Thursday morning.