DuBOIS — Another day, another heartbreaking loss for the DuBois American Legion baseball team at the state tournament.
A day after losing 4-3 to Region 6 champ Hopewell — a game in which DuBois scored three times in the top of the seventh and had the bases loaded when the game ended — Post 17 dropped an even tougher 7-6, 10-inning contest to Region 8 champ French Creek Valley Sunday afternoon.
DuBois took its first lead of the day with a pair of runs in the top of the 10th to go up 6-4.
The inning started innocently enough as French Creek Valley reliever Levi Henderson got a pair of groundouts around Ethan Spellen reaching on an error.
That sequence turned over the DuBois lineup, where leadoff hitter Eric Schneider dropped a double down the right-field line to score Spellen. Schneider enjoyed a huge day at the plate, going 4-for-6 with a double, triple, RBI and two runs scored.
Jeremy Krise then reached on French Creek’s second error of the inning, a miscue that allowed Schneider to score to make it 6-4. Garrett Prosper kept the inning going, but Henderson got out of the inning when he froze Jordan Frano for a third strike call to end the threat.
French Creek wasted little time loading the bases in the bottom of the 10th against reliever Krise, who tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth after taking over the mound for starter Garrett Starr.
Krise struggled to find the strike zone in the 10th though. He hit Austin Gabel to open the inning, then walked Trenten Wheeler and Henderson around a fly out.
Peyton Hearn stepped in and hit a fly ball to left that Justin Swauger appeared to have tracked down. However, he couldn’t make the catch as a pair of runs scored to tie the game at 6-6.
DuBois manager Chuck Ferra then elected to intentionally walk Walker Cunningham to load the bases with one out to set up a force play at home. The move didn’t pay off though, as Asa Henderson worked a bases-loaded walk to force home Levi Henderson with the game-winning run.
With the win, French Creek Valley advanced to play South Parkland today at 12:35 p.m., while DuBois was eliminated from the state tournament with the loss. The state tourney appearance was not the first for DuBois. Post 17 finished third in 1995 when Yardley was crowned the state legion champion.
“I think we went though every emotion possible the last two days,” said Ferra. “That was a tough again, but I’m so proud of the kids because they battled. We got ourselves in a hole that first inning, but then we fought back and Garrett settled in and pitched a nice game (after 1st inning). We hit the ball, and our 12 hits where the most we had in a game all year.
“Jeremy was in a tough situation there at the end. He’s taking all the blame on himself, but he doesn’t need to take any blame. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We could have done a lot of things different to put him in a better situation and we didn’t.
“This is probably the best two days we’ve had all year, and I’m glad they showed that here in the state tournament. They represented themselves well, as well as their families and the town. We told them that we showed them that we belong and that we just didn’t come here as a host to get run over in two games. We battled and hung in there with these teams.”
Both teams got off to strong starts Sunday, with French Creek winning the first inning 4-2.
DuBois opened the game with a bang as Schneider lined a leadoff triple over the right fielder’s head. Krise followed with a single to quickly make it 1-0 DuBois.
Prosper followed with a walk before Frano reached on an infield single that plated Krise to put Post 17 up 2-0, but Prosper was throw out trying to take third on the play. French Creek starter Gabel then got a pair of outs to strand Frano at first.
French Creek answered right back int the bottom of the first against Starr.
Spencer Reiser hit a leadoff single, then Hearn walked with one out. Cunningham followed with a double that plated both runners to tie the game. Jaden Grubbs then reached on an error before an infield single by Alex Wheeler scored Cunningham.
A two-out single by Gabel capped the inning as it brought home Grubbs to make it a 4-2 game after one inning.
Starr settled in after the bumpy first inning and gave DuBois seven strong innings to keep them in the game. The righty kept French Creek off the scoreboard over his final six innings of work.
He worked around seven hits over that stretch, stranding eight runners (3 in scoring position). Overall, Starr allowed four runs, three earned, on 11 hits while earning a no-decision. He struck out three and walked one.
Starr’s performance allowed DuBois to battle back into the game, which it did with single runs in the third and fourth innings to pull even.
After stranding a pair of runners in scoring position in the second, Frano got things started in the third when he was hit by a pitch with one out. Gabel then got Swauger to fly out, but an infield single by Starr extended the inning for Alex Pasternak, who ripped a single to left to plate Frano to pull DuBois within one at 4-3.
Gauge Gulvas got things rolling in the fourth with a leadoff single to left, his second hit of the day. Schneider then beat out an infield single on which an errant late throw to first allowed Gulvas to make it to third. Schneider thought about going to second, but it was too late as he was tagged out trying to make it back to first.
After a strikeout, Prosper delivered a clutch two-out single to right to score Gulvas with the tying run.
While French Creek got just one runner to second over the final three innings, DuBois put runners in scoring position twice. Post 17’s best chance to take the lead came in the top of the seventh — the same inning it rallied Saturday night.
And for the second day in a row, Frano led off the seventh with a double.
Gabel then recorded a strikeout before Starr reached on an error that put runners on the corners. Gabel responded with his second strikeout of the inning, but Spellen drew a walk to load the bases.
That brought Gulvas to the plate and he lined a pitch into center. Unfortunately for him and DuBois, it hung up just enough for Reiser to race in and make a running catch to end the inning.
French Creek nearly won the game in the bottom of the ninth, getting back-to-back singles from Asa Henderson and Alex Wheeler against Krise. Peyton Crays followed with a shot up the middle.
Knowing he couldn’t get his glove down, Krise tried to stop the hard comebacker with his foot. He ended up deflecting it to Starr at second, who fired on to first for the final out.
The play went for naught though, as French Creek Valley won the game an inning later.
Today’s other matchups pit Hempfield East vs. Swoyersville in the winners’ bracket game at 7:05 p.m., while Bristol plays Hopewell in an elimination contest at 3:35 p.m.
Hempfield East beat South Parkland, 11-5, in a winners game Sunday, while Swoyersville defeated Hopewell, 8-1, in the other winners game. Bristol stayed alive with a 5-4 victory against Paxton.