PUNXSUTAWNEY — The John J. Fisher Post 62 Punxsy American Legion team scored 10 of its 11 runs in the first two innings and held off a late rally by DuBois to win, 11-10, Tuesday at Rich Kuntz Memorial Field in Punxsutawney.
Punxsy's offensive outburst was just what manager Mike Dickey wanted to see from his team with the playoffs just around the corner.
"Hitting from top to bottom, that was refreshing to see," Dickey said. "Of course, we know they're not throwing the guys they will in the playoffs, but regardless, it gives us some confidence."
DuBois was the first to jump to a quick start, as it scored two runs in the top of the first inning. Dante DeSantis, Garret Peterson and Sean Sleigh all hit sharp singles up the middle, and DeSantis scored on Sleigh's hit.
The next batter, Derek Clark, grounded out to third base, but Peterson was able to score. Punxsy starting pitcher Taylor Neal then struck out Matt Zimmerman, DuBois' No. 6 hitter, to retire the side.
Clark started the game for DuBois and was able to get the first two batters out after leadoff hitter Zak Dickey was thrown out at second trying to advance on a throwing error, and Jordan Mesoraco grounded out to second.
Punxsy (8-4) scored five runs with two outs, though, as Braedon Pennington walked and scored on a double by Tyler Skerkavich. Kyle Neal reached base on an error, and Joe Pisano drove in two runs with a double.
Spencer Levy, Punxsy's designated hitter, followed Pisano's double with a double of his own to drive in Pisano, and Levy later scored on an RBI single by Dane Baker.
In the second inning, DuBois answered with two more runs to come within one run at 5-4.
Brandon Palumbo was walked, and Justin Sleigh singled to reach base. Nate Liddle was retired on a nice diving catch by Taylor Phillips, but Palumbo scored on the fly out. Peterson drove in the second run with a two-out single.
Punxsy answered in the bottom of the second with five more runs, led by a pair of two-run home runs by Pennington and Levy.
Mesoraco led off the inning with a triple to the fence in right-center field and was driven in by Pennington's long bomb off the scoreboard in left-center.
Skerkavich notched his second double of the game and scored on Pisano's second double. Levy drove a pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark for the second home run to give Punxsy a 10-4 lead.
John Georgino relieved Clark of his pitching duties and retired the first two batters he faced to retire the side.
In contrast to the high-scoring first two innings, Neal and Georgino both retired their opponents in order in the third inning, but DuBois had its most productive inning in the fourth.
Palumbo was walked for the second time in as many at-bats and moved to second on Justin Sleigh's single between the shortstop and third base.
Liddle singled to load the bases, and all three runners advanced on a wild pitch, giving DuBois its first run of the frame.
DuBois' next three batters drove in runs — DeSantis with a single, Peterson with a groundout to second and Sean Sleigh with a single.
Punxsy scored its only run against Georgino in the fourth, when Neal singled to right field and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Neal moved to third on an error by the shortstop and later scored on a bases-loaded walk by Janocha, an insurance run that would prove to be the game-winner.
DuBois rallied late, scoring two runs in the sixth inning on a home run by Sean Sleigh after Peterson reached on a walk with two outs.
Taylor Neal didn't have the best stat line — he allowed eight runs on 10 hits — but manager Dickey had good things to say about his performance.
"DuBois is a good hitting team," he said. "Taylor just left some balls up in the zone, and if you leave them up there, they're going to hit them."
Neal, who pitched four innings, earned the win, and Janocha picked up the save, pitching three innings of one-hit ball and allowing two runs.
Punxsy has a busy week ahead, with games at 8 p.m. tonight in Brookville, at 6 p.m. Thursday in Clearfield and a likely tune-up game against Altoona Friday before beginning Jefferson County playoffs next week.
"Altoona will be a good team, and they know we're a good team, so we wanted to pick that up on Friday," Dickey said.