PUNXSUTAWNEY — After a good run through the Jefferson County League playoffs, the season came to an end for the DuBois American Legion baseball team with an 8-1 loss to Punxsutawney/Brookville in the championship game on Sunday evening at Rich Kuntz Memorial Field.
Post 17 got the game’s opening run in the top of the first, but Punxsy scored eight unanswered runs in the next six innings to take the league title.
Punxsy defeated Curwensville on Wednesday and Clearfield on Friday to get to the championship game on Sunday.
DuBois lost a 1-0 heartbreaker in the opening round of the playoffs on Wednesday before beating Curwensville, 13-3, in five innings on Friday. Post 17 then avenged Wednesday’s loss with a 9-2 win over Clearfield on Saturday to advance to the championship on Sunday.
“It was a good run,” said DuBois manager Chuck Ferra. “The first game against Clearfield was a good game. One mistake –a balk –just cost us the game. Then they came out flat against Curwensville and they battled back, and (Saturday) was great. These kids hit the crap out of the ball. Noah pitched a good game. I thought we could ride the momentum into today, and it just didn’t happen. It was our third day in a row playing. It would have been tough.”
Punxsutawney/Brookville will now advance to the Region 7 Tournament, which will be hosted by Clearfield starting on Saturday.
In the top of the first, Drew Bankovich launched a one-out double over the Punxsy center fielder’s head. Two pitches later, Nick LaBrasca singled into left field to put runners at the corners before Ryan Pasternak’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Bankovich for DuBois’ lone run.
After that, Punxsy pitcher Lance Pennington only allowed four more hits in the game. Pennington allowed just the one earned run on six hits, walked one and struck out five for the complete game win.
Punxsy answered back in the bottom of the first against DuBois starting pitcher Colin Read as Joey DiPietro doubled to deep left field, chasing Lucas Burkett home all the way from first base to tie the game. Burkett reached on a fielder’s choice earlier in the inning.
In the bottom of the second, DuBois looked to possibly be able to get out of the inning on a double play, but the ball was thrown out of play on the throw to first.
Punxsy’s Caleb Smith followed with an RBI triple to center field to give Punxsy the lead. Smith hen scored on a wild pitch, giving Punxsy a 3-1 advantage.
DuBois’ Mitchell Ferra walked to open the third inning, and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Read. A wild pitch moved Ferra up to third, but DuBois could not get the run in as Pennington got a couple strikeouts to end the frame.
Punxsy kept adding on to the lead as DiPietro blasted a solo homer to left field in the bottom of the third.
Punxy also put up four runs in the bottom of the fourth for the final runs of the game. With one out, Ben Reitz was hit by a pitch, while Tanner LaBenne singled.
After an infield fly rule pop-up for the second out, Tyler Park singled to load the bases. Punxsy scored the first run as Burkett worked a bases-loaded walk before Pennington cleared the bases with a double, giving Punxsy an 8-1 lead.
The Pennington double was Read’s last batter as he gave the ball to Braden Paulinellie.
“We were playing our third day in a row. We were short on pitching,” said Ferra. “Read was pitching on three days rest. He said he would throw. They hit him today. They’re a good team. Hats off to them. They’ve had a good season. They’re the best team in the league and they deserve to win it.”
Paulinellie allowed only two baserunners, both on walks, in his 2 1/3 innings on the mound.
Ethan Long led DuBois at the plate as he went 2-for-3, while Bankovich and Jackson Frank each tagged a double.
DuBois finished the season at 9-8.
“It was a bit of an up-and-down season for us,” said Ferra. “When we have everybody here, we’re a pretty good team I think. We have a lot of 18-year-olds with a lot going on, and it’s hard to get them all here for games. They’re a great group of kids. I would coach this group of kids in a heartbeat once again. I’ve known them all their lives.”