JLBB knocked out by late Fox rally

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsy's 13- and 14-year-old Junior League baseball team was eliminated from contention in the All-Star tournament with Fox Township rallying with a four-run seventh inning to pick up an 11-10 victory in losers' bracket action.

After the game, coach Jim Sloniger discussed how proud he and his fellow coaches were of the team.

"We just told them how proud we are of the way they played, battled back, showed grit and gained some character," he said. "We were a young team, mostly 13-year-olds, and we hope this gave them some character. We'll have all but a couple back next year, and we hope this experience will benefit them."

Fox jumped out to an early lead with a three-run home half of the first after hanging a zero on Punxsy to start the game.

Hunter Fantechi reached base on a fielder's choice with two outs and stole second before Kyler Lenox nabbed a single of his own. Kyle Pecht kept things going with an RBI single, and Kyle Leonard put an exclamation point on the inning with a two-RBI double to plate Pecht and Lenox.

Fox also scored one in the second to push its lead to four runs with Damon Krise reaching on a single and advancing to third on a passed ball and a stolen base.

Fantechi singled next to plate Krise, and the Fox lead was four.

Both teams were kept off the scoreboard in the third, but Punxsy picked up its first run in the top of the fourth, as Brandon Douthit started a rally with a one-out single and came around to score after a single by Jacob Weaver.

Fox answered in the home half by plating another and extending its lead to 5-1.

Krise picked up a one-out single to get things rolling, and Fantechi reached on an error to put a pair on. Lenox walked to load the bases, and Pecht plated Krise with an RBI groundout.

Punxsy's biggest offensive production came in the middle of the game with a five-run fifth and a four-run sixth leading the charge.

In the fifth, it was a pair of walks to Dylan Moore and Travis Reesman that sparked Punxsy's rally.

A third walk with one out — issued to leadoff hitter Lucas Burkett — loaded the bases for Jacob Tyger, who drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Douthit came through with his second hit of the game next — a two-RBI double to clear the rest of the bases, and he later came in to score on a passed ball.

Weaver walked and stole second base, and he came in to score on a Drew Maines single, tying the game at five and giving the host a sense of life.

Fox Township scored one more in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Krise, but Punxsy came back and took the lead in the top of the sixth, plating four runs on two hits and three walks.

Moore started it again with another leadoff walk — his second in as many innings — and Reesman followed
with a single.

Brett Buck sacrificed the pair to second and third, and a walk to Burkett loaded the bases for Tyger, who delivered with an RBI infield single on a chopper in front of the third baseman.

Douthit did it again to give Punxsy a four-run lead with a second two-RBI double in the contest.

Fox answered with one in the sixth, though, and put up a four-spot in the bottom of the seventh to walk off and advance.

The game ended in interesting fashion, as with two outs and the score knotted at 10 after an RBI single by Fantechi and a two-RBI double by Pecht to the fence in right-center, Dakota Overturf thought he had won the game for his team with an infield RBI single. The umpires convened, though, and declared that the ball had bounced off his foot, giving Punxsy a second chance.

Overturf came through in the clutch again, though, belting an RBI double down the right field line to plate Pecht and end the game.