In dramatic fashion: Chucks rally past Beavers
PUNXSUTAWNEY — Trailing the DuBois Beavers 4-2 entering the home half of the sixth inning Wednesday in Punxsutawney, the Chucks knew they needed to make some noise with their bats. And with a bit of help from the Beavers' pitching staff early, Punxsy did just that, putting up five runs in the frame to take a 7-4 lead — one that would hold up for a win.
Punxsy's come-from-behind rally started with one out in the sixth, when relief pitcher Cory Geer was hit by a John Georgino pitch. No. 9 hitter Taylor Phillips followed with a walk, putting runners on first and second.
After the walk, DuBois lifted Georgino in favor of senior Nathan Liddle, and the first pitch he threw to Punxsy leadoff hitter Dane Baker skipped to the backstop, allowing Janocha and Phillips to move to third and second, respectively.
Punxsy saw a bit more luck as Baker's at-bat unfolded. He actually struck out swinging, but on an error by the catcher, the ball again found its way to the fence, and Baker beat the throw to first base.
Janocha scored on the play to bring Punxsy back within one run, and Phillips moved to third.
From that point forward, the Chucks bats came alive, picking up four consecutive hits after managing just three off Beavers' pitchers to that point.
Catcher Ryan Sloniger started the hit parade for the Chucks with a two-RBI single after Baker stole second base.
Ty Zimmerman stepped to the dish next and drove a deep shot over the center fielder's head to the base of the fence. Sloniger had to hold at first to make sure the ball was uncatchable, so he was forced to stop at third.
But the deep drive set up cleanup hitter Garrett Zimmerman for a two-RBI single that set the final score at 7-4 in Punxsy's favor.
Jamie Bush followed with a single to move Zimmerman to second base, but after Michael Klingensmith grounded into a fielder's choice, Zimmerman was caught in a pickle between third and home and was tagged for the final out of the frame.
"That inning was obviously key," Punxsy head coach Mike Dickey said after the game. "We said in the dugout after the fifth inning, 'If we hold them here, we're going to score and get back in this game.' Ryan and Ty are swinging the bat very well lately — not just today, but most of the year actually. So, we knew if we could get some guys on base for them, they'd find a way to get the job done, and they did."
DuBois threatened a bit in the top of the seventh. Pinch hitter Anthony Vizza got things going with a leadoff single.
But Geer forced Derek Heckathorne to fly out to right field, and after he hit pinch hitter Darren McKee to put men on first and second, he retired the next two hitters with a strikeout and a fielder's choice to shortstop Ty Zimmerman.
Despite the end result, DuBois actually grabbed the first lead of the game in the top of the first after Punxsy starter Jamie Bush set down leadoff hitter Garrett Brown with a strikeout.
No. 2 hitter Devon Walker singled to center, and Liddle followed with a single of his own, moving Walker to third.
Although Bush managed to strike out the next two DuBois hitters looking, DuBois executed a double steal with cleanup hitter Sean Sleigh at the plate, during which Walker scored.
Punxsy answered right back in the home half of the frame, though, when Sloniger started things off with a single back up the middle.
Ty Zimmerman walked, and Garrett Zimmerman drove in the Chucks' first run — his first of three RBIs — with a single.
Bush walked to load the bases, and Klingensmith hit into a fielder's choice, plating Ty Zimmerman.
"There's a theme we've always had," Dickey said. "If they score, good teams answer. And we did answer, so that was big."
The only other inning in which the Beavers managed runs was the fourth, where they brought eight hitters to the plate. Bush walked two, and the Beavers picked up three hits, including RBI singles by Brown and Liddle.
After the first inning, DuBois starter Ian Yount settled in and threw three no-hit innings before being removed in the fifth after a double by Sloniger and a walk to Ty Zimmerman.
With runners on second and third, Georgino did his job, keeping the Chucks off the scoreboard in the fifth, despite loading the bases by hitting Bush with a pitch.
"They kind of held us back in the middle innings, there," Dickey said. "We had some situations where we left some guys out on the base paths. But we came through when we needed to."
Offensively for the Chucks, Sloniger led the way with three hits and two RBIs, and Garrett Zimmerman did his part with a pair of hits and three RBIs.
Phillips and Ty Zimmer- man each picked up a pair of walks to add to the Chucks' runners on base, and Bush reached base three times with a hit, a walk and an HBP.
Punxsy's strong suit all season has been its pitching, and Dickey said Wednesday was no different, despite trailing the Beavers for a good portion of the game.
"I thought Jamie and Cory were both very good," he said. "Jamie kept us in the game. We kind of gave them some runs in the fourth inning to give them a lead. But then Cory came in, and we just asked him to hold the line, and that's exactly what he did. Our pitching staff's been really good all year. It's been the key to why we are where we are."
Bush pitched the first four innings, allowing four runs on five hits, walking three and striking out four.
Geer's line showed three shutout innings. He allowed three hits, struck out two and hit one batter.