Altoona rallies to top Chucks in extras, 7-5

PUNXSUTAWNEY โ€” Ahead 5-1 through four innings, the Punxsy baseball team was unable to score again and couldn't preserve the lead during a 7-5 loss in nine innings to Altoona Monday at Rich Kuntz Memorial Field.

Punxsy (4-2) surrendered four runs in the fifth inning and two in the ninth. Once Altoona pitcher Jason Douglas entered the game in the fourth inning, the Chucks' bats faltered.

"We gave this game away," Punxsy manager Mike Dickey said, "and we just didn't pitch well with the lead."

Douglas pitched 5 2/3-innings for the win, striking out five, walking two and allowing two hits. That came after Altoona starting pitcher Matt McDonald threw 3 1/3-innings and struck out five batters, but couldn't get out of the fourth inning when Punxsy scored all five of its runs.

"We hit some balls right at people, and they made nice plays in the field on numerous occasions," Dickey said. "The bottom line is that we aren't going to win much with 10 Ks. Their defense doesn't have to make plays because of it. If we continue to do that, we'll be on the wrong side of the win-loss column pretty fast."

Punxsy sophomore starting pitcher Jamie Bush held Altoona's bats down during the first 4 1/3-innings. He limited Altoona to one run through four innings before he was relieved by Dane Baker with one out and one runner on base in the fifth.

"Jamie did an outstanding job," Dickey said. "That was the best outing we've had out of a starting pitcher all year."

Baker struggled with the first four batters he faced, walking two and giving up a double and a single. By the time the top of the fifth inning ended, Altoona scored four times โ€” three of which were charged to Baker, one to Bush โ€” to tie the game at five.

Punxsy managed one hit after the fourth inning and a runner didn't reach third base in eight innings other than the five-run fourth.

After he allowed Altoona to tie the game in the fifth, Baker settled in until the ninth, when a one-out walk to the No. 9 hitter, Mac Watson, was followed by a go-ahead RBI double by Cody Henderson. Henderson came around to score one batter later on Christian Hensel's RBI double.

Thanks to a two-out walk by Ty Zimmerman and error on a Jordan Mesoraco grounder in the bottom of the ninth, Punxsy's cleanup hitter, Tyler Skerkavich, stepped to the plate as the winning run. Skerkavich grounded out to second base to end the game.

Hensel led Altoona with a 3-for-4 game that included two RBIs, two doubles and a run.

Henderson had two hits and scored twice, and Tyson Steele also had two-hit game and a diving grab in the ninth inning on a Zak Dickey line drive to right field that could have started Punxsy's rally.

Zimmerman led the Chucks with a 2-for-3 performance that included a double and an RBI. Taylor Neal added two RBIs, a single and a run scored.

Punxsy trailed 1-0 through 3 1/2-innings when four hits, two hit batters and a walk aided a five-run fourth inning.

Garrett Zimmerman and Ty Zimmerman had RBI singles, Neal had a two-single, and Mesoraco brought in a runner on a groundout during the inning.

Bush gave up two runs on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts while receiving a no decision.

Baker allowed five runs on a seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts during 4 1/3-innings.

Punxsy's Luke Janocha retired a batter in the ninth.

The Chucks play at Brookville Wednesday.