PUNXSUTAWNEY — The DuBois Little League All-Star baseball team opened the District 10 Tournament with a bag Monday, rallying from two late deficits to knock off Punxsutawney, 5-3.
The game was a pitchers’ duel between DuBois’ Carter Hickman and Punxsy’s Jake Sikora through four innings, with the duo combining to allow just three hits through four innings.
Despite Hickman’s effort, Punxsy managed to push two runs across without the aide of a hit in the second inning and held that 2-0 lead entering the fifth. That’s when Punxsy decided to lift Sikora, and DuBois took advantage as it scored five runs on four hits over the final two innings.
Gavin Kaschalk was at the forefront of the DuBois comeback. He blasted a two-run homer in the fifth to tie the score at 2-2, only to see Punxsy’s Justin Miller launch a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the fifth to put his team back on top 3-2.
DuBois wasn’t to be denied though and regained the lead with a three-run sixth that was capped by a bases-loaded, two-run book-rule double by Kaschalk. All three runs scored with two outs.
However, Punxsy didn’t go quietly and loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the sixth, as Kaschalk — who relieved Hickman in the fourth — with one batter and walked two others around a strikeout.
DuBois decided to make another change on the mound at that point and brought in Matt Pyne, who promptly fielded a hard comebacker and cut down a runner at the plate for the second out. Pyne then got Zeke Bennett to fly out to left to end the game to earn the save.
With the win, DuBois advances to play Brookville in the second round Wednesday in DuBois. Brookville beat Brockway, 16-10, on Monday.
As wild as the game ended, it was anything but at the beginning as Hickman and Sikora did their parts to slow down the opponents offense.
DuBois had a chance to grab the early lead in the first, loading the bases with two outs on a pair of walks and hit batsman. But, Sikora got Pyne to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
Punxsy capitalized on its first scoring chance in the second.
Sikora drew a leadoff walk before Josh Tyger flew out to left. Zack Dinger and Easton Gula followed with walks of their own to load the bases. Hickman then got Seth Moore to ground out to first for the second, which scored Sikora. Dinger rounded third hard and scored when a throw to the plate got past catcher Ben Gritzer.
Sikora retired the side in order in the third after getting the lead but found himself in trouble again in the fourth.
Cartar Kosko reached on an infield single to open the inning. After a strikeout, DuBois loaded the bases when Joey Foradora reached on an error and pinch-hitter Neel Guptra singled to center.
However, Sikora used a strikeout and fielder’s choice to work out of the jam and keep it a 2-0 game. Sikora allowed the two hits while striking out eight and walking three in four innings of work.
Punxsy looked to add to its lead in the bottom of the fourth when Tyger singled with one out for Punxsy’s first hit of the game. He went to second on a wild pitch and third on a passed ball. Dinger followed with a walk and kept running to second to put two runners in scoring position.
That spelled the end for Hickman, who allowed the two runs, one earned, on one hit in in 3 1/3 innings. Kaschalk relieved Hickman and promptly struck out Gula and Moore to end the inning to keep it a 2-0 game.
Tyger took over for Sikora in the fifth and walked Andrulonis to open the inning. Hickman then lined out to second before Kaschalk blasted a high fastball over the fence in left to knot the score at 2-2.
Any momentum DuBois gained from the homer was quickly taken away when Miller smashed his solo shot to left-center to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Punxsy got two more runners in the inning against Kaschalk, but Pyne hauled in a popup in shallow right field to end the inning.
Tyger got two quick outs in the top of the sixth but then hit No. 9 batter Dalton Yale. That opened the door for DuBois, and it stepped through in a big way.
Nick Colbey followed with a single to center, while Andrulonis drew his third walk of the game to load the bases. Hickman then hit a ball up the middle then went for an infield single that scored Yale.
Punxsy then decided to make a pitching change and brought Alex Phillips in to face Kaschalk with the bases loaded. And, it was Kaschalk who won that battle as he ripped a Phillips pith to left that one-hopped over the fence for a two-run double to put DuBois up 5-3.
That hit set the stage for Pyne’s heroics on the mound in the bottom of the inning as he worked out of a bases-loaded jam to save the victory for Kaschalk.