DuBOIS — The DuBois Post 17 American Legion baseball team opened the Pennsylvania American Legion State Tournament in heartbreaking fashion Saturday night, dropping a tough 4-3 contest to Hopewell at Showers Field.
The matchup, the fourth of opening day, was a pitcher’s duel most of the way between DuBois’ Dayne Bauman and Hopewell’s Casey Jones.
Hopewell cracked the scoreboard first with a run in the bottom of the third and held that slim 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth when it plated a pair of unearned runs on an infield single.
Hopewell tacked on an unearned run in the sixth and appeared on its way to victory. However, host Post 17 didn’t go quietly and battled until the better end — pulling within a run at 4-3 before Jones struck out Garrett Prosper looking to end the game with the bases-loaded.
Jordan Frano jump-started DuBois seventh with a leadoff double against Jones. Justin Swauger followed with a walk, which spelled the end for Jones. Hopewell turned to reliever Josh Miklos, who struck out the first batter he faced for out No. 1.
Jeremy Krise then stepped in and blasted a double that scored Frano and sent Swauger to third. Hopewell catcher Tyler Beck then tried to pick off Swauger at third with pinch-hitter Cullen Corle at the plate, but his throw was high and allowed Swauger to sprint home. Corle then smacked a single to center to bring home Krise to pull DuBois within a run at 4-3.
Hopewell went back to Jones on the mound after Corle’s hit, and he walked Gauge Gulvas before he was promptly erased at second on a fielder’s choice hit by Eric Schneider. Garrett Starr followed with another walk to load the bases for Prosper, who worked the count before taking what he — and the DuBois coaching staff — felt was a pitch off the plate.
The home plate umpire rung up Prosper though, sending the Hopewell contingent into a frenzy as they advanced in the winner’s bracket.
“It was a tough loss, but I couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” said DuBois manager Chuck Ferra. “They battled their butts off tonight. They could have cashed it in there when it was 4-0.
“But they didn’t, from the starters to the bench. Cullen Corle came in and got a key hit, Gauge Gulvas gets in there and battles and gets a walk. Krise and Frano had doubles for us, that was huge for us there.
“Dayne pitched a heck of a game battling through cramps. He gave us everything he could. And, there at the end we had up the bat you want in that position in Garrett Prosper. He battled, and it is what it is. He didn’t get he call. But, I’d want the same person up there again.
“I told them were not done though. Let’s carry this momentum into tomorrow and get a ‘W’ and see what we can do here. But, I think we made a statement (in last inning) that we’re just not here as the host team just because we got a free ride. I told them let’s show them who we are and just not roll over.
Jones controlled the DuBois bats through the first six innings, allowing just three hits — the same number Post 17 had in the seventh inning. DuBois didn’t have a runner reach second in those first six innings.
Jones got the win after tossing 6 2/3 total innings, allowing two runs, both earned, on four hits. He struck out six and walked four.
Meanwhile, Bauman did his part to help keep DuBois in the game against the Region 6 champs. He also got some help from defense, which turned two double plays in the first four innings.
The biggest was a 1-2-3 inning-ending double play Bauman started in the second with the bases loaded after snagging a hard comebacker off the bat of Roman Gill.
Hopewell finally cracked through against Bauman in the third when Anthony Slate reached on a leadoff single and later scored on a clutch two-out single by Alec Kunzmann. DuBois also ended the inning on that hit when it caught Anthony Lasala, who also had singled, between second and third. Alex Pasternak tagged out Lasala to end the inning after Skate had scored.
Hopewell extended its lead in the fifth.
Gill led off the inning with a single before Hopewell got a little luck. Bauman fielded a comebacker off the bat of Slate, but his throw to second sailed into center field to leave both runners safe.
DuBois then got a pair of outs that could have ended the inning, but Hpoewell took advantage of the error when Beck hit a ball up the middle that he was going to easily beat out.
Gill scored on the hit, and Slate hustled around from second when second baseman Starr’s attempt to knock down the ball behind the bag deflected away from him.
Leading 3-0, Hopewell scored what proved to be the game-winning run in the sixth when Slate reached on a two-out error. Jones, who doubled with two outs, scored that decisive run.
With the win, Hopewell advanced to play Swoyerstown in the night game (7:05 p.m.) tonight. Swoyerstown (Region 5) upended French Creek Valley (Region 8), 7-5, Saturday.
DuBois battles Bristol (Region 3) in an elimination game at 1:05 p.m. today. Bristol lost 15-0, in five innings to South Parkland (Region 2) Saturday.
The other elimination game pits French Creek Valley vs. Paxton at 10:05 a.m. Paxton (Region 4) was a 7-2 loser to Hempfield East (Region 7), which plays South Parkland at 4:05 p.m. in the other winner’s bracket contest.