PUNXSUTAWNEY — The DuBois 11-year-old All-Star baseball team used a strong push in the middle of the game Thursday to rally from an early 2-0 deficit to knock off Punxsutawney, 8-5, for the District 10 championship.
The title game was held in Punxsutawney despite DuBois being the undefeated team on the strength of a 23-3, five-inning victory at Way Memorial Field on Sunday.
Thursday’s rematch was the polar opposite of that game, as the team’s battled back-and-forth for a full six innings.
Punxsy jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings behind starter Coy Martino. However, DuBois caught up to Martino the second time through the lineup and grabbed the lead with a four-run top of the third.
DuBois launched back-to-back homers in the inning, with Brayden Fox blasting his first career home run — a three-run shot to left — before Kaden Clark followed with a solo homer to center. Clark’s homer was his third in two games against Punxsy in the tournament.
Punxsy countered with two runs in the bottom of the third, only to see DuBois get those two runs back in the top of the fourth. Punxsy made it a 6-5 game with a run in the bottom of the fourth, but DuBois added two huge insurance runs in the fifth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Jordan Ell and Kaden Brezenski to make it an 8-5 game.
DuBois collected 10 of its 12 hits in the third through fifth innings when it scored all eight of its runs. Martino lasted into the fifth before hitting the 85-pitch limit.
Aiden Snowberger did the rest from there, tossing a scoreless fifth and sixth inning to record the save. Brock Smith notched the win in relief, as he took the mound in the second and allowed two runs, both earned, on two hits in 1 2/3 innings of work.
Fox led the DuBois offense, going 3-for-4 with the homer and four RBIs. Trey Wingard put together a 3-for-3 day with a double and run scored, while Tyler Chamberlin was 2-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored.
With the victory, DuBois advances to the Section 1 Tournament in Meadville, where it opens play next Thursday (July 20).
“There was no way we were going to take them for granted (after first win). That’s a good little ball club, and that Martino kid who pitched did a really nice job” said DuBois manager TJ Wingard. “Since we’ve been with this team that past couple years, at times we’ll chip away, but usually we’ll have a big inning.
“We were down 2-0 going into the third, and it just happened that our big inning was only four tonight. But, it was good enough tonight, and we’ll take it. What’s good for them is they have proved they could win a game that was ‘technically’ out of control, and they have won a close one.
“A game like this was good for them heading to sectionals. Any time you can be in the pressure cooker and really focus and put the grind down and win, it’s good for them. We need close games like this.
“Now, it’s off to Meadville we go, and we’ll prep them well. They’ll play hard, and that’s all we can ask for. The kids are having fun and get along really well.”
Both teams stranded a runner in the first runner but didn’t score.
DuBois then got a leadoff double from Trey Wingard in the second, but Martino struck out the next three hitters to leave Wingard standing at second.
Punxsy responded with walks by Cooper Stahlman and Sawyer Hall around a strikeout by DuBois starter Andrew Green in the bottom of the second. Stahlman later scored on a sacrifice fly from Luke Miller, while Hall raced home on a two-our error to give Punxsy a 2-0 lead after two innings.
Smith came on to get the final out on the second, starnding runners on first and second.
Punxsy’s lead was short-lived though, as DuBois put together a rally in the fourth as it turned its order over the top for its second at-bats.
Snowberger got things rolling with a one-out infield single before Chamberlin smacked a single to center. That brought Fox to the plate, and the lefty hammered a Martino pitch the other way to left to put DuBois up 3-2. Clark then belted a solo homer to center to make it 4-2.
Wingard kept the inning going wth a single, but he was eventually stranded at third.
Punxsy answered right back in the bottom of the third, with Martino hitting a leadoff single and scoring on a double to left by Kyle Varner. Stahlman then lined out to Snowberger at short before Gage Gresock drew a walk.
Sawyer Hall then grounded out to Snowberger, allowing Varner to score to even the score at 4-4. DuBois ended the inning on the play though as Fox fired across the diamond to get Gresock, who tried to go first-to-third on the groundout.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the top of the fourth as DuBois answered back with a pair of runs to regain the lead.
Pinch-hitter Aiden West was hit by the first pitch he saw and forced to leave the game. Green re-entered to run for him and took second on a wild pitch with one out. Martino then got Snowberger to fly out, but Chamberlin came through with a clutch two-out single to chase home Green.
Chamberlin hustled into second on the throw in from the outfield and score a batter later when Fox ripped a single to left-center to put DuBois up 6-4.
Punxsy got a run back in the bottom half of the fourth when Landon Neal hit a leadoff single and later scored on a fielder’s choice that put runners on the corner’s with two outs. Smith ended the rally there though, as he got Varner to ground out to short to end the inning.
DuBois carried that momentum into the top of the fifth and pushed across its final two runs to take an 8-5 advantage.
Wingard jump-started the inning with a one-out single to left-center and hustled into second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Ell followed with a double to left to plate Wingard.
Brezenski then hit a ball that Punxsy’s right fielder nearly made a nice running catch that went for a RBI double that scored Ell.
DuBois then brought in Snowberger to close the door, and he did just that, retiring six of the eight batters he faced.