PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsy's 10-& 11-year old baseball All-Stars are on a roll, and if manager Brad Gigliotti has things his way, the hits will just keep coming at Sectionals.
Punxsy defeated St. Marys 12-2 in four innings Thursday night in Punxsutawney to clinch the District 10 Championship and advance to the Section One tournament which will be held in Cranberry.
Punxsy's first game will be Thursday at 2 p.m. against McLane. The winner of the Section 1 tournament will move on to the state tournament in Latrobe.
"That's four 10-run games in a row," Gigliotti said. "Not to take anything away from St. Marys, because they're a great team. We have a special bunch of kids, though. They're just really hitting the ball amazingly well."
St. Marys won the toss and elected to be the home team, and because Punxsy was granted the first opportunity to put some runs on the board may have been just what it needed to keep its sizzling bats rolling.
Punxsy's leadoff hitter Brandon Matthews got things started early with a triple that made chalk fly down the left field line. Matthews was driven in by Matt Blose, who doubled to the fence in center field for his first of five RBIs.
Alexander Neal followed with a single, moving Blose to third. Neal advanced to second when the right fielder threw the ball to the plate to prevent Blose from scoring.
Sammy Gigliotti hit a two-RBI single to right-center and scored when the catcher threw the ball past the second baseman trying to stop Gigliotti from advancing to second. Gigliotti's run gave Punxsy a 4-0 lead.
Blose started the game on the mound for Punxsy and sat down St. Marys' first three batters in the bottom of the first with a little help from his defense. First baseman Gigliotti made a nice scoop on a hard hit ball by leadoff hitter Hayden Tettis, and third baseman John Serian snagged a hard line drive that seemed to be bound for the fence.
"Matt did a great job pitching for us," Gigliotti said, "and we really played great in the field, too."
Punxsy wasted no time getting back on the board in the top of the second.
Matt Greenblatt was hit by a pitch to give Punxsy its first base runner of the inning, and Matthews followed with a single. Greenblatt and Matthews each moved up a base on a passed ball, and Kevin Constant walked to load the bases for Blose.
Blose came through again with another double, driving in two and stretching Punxsy's lead to six. Neal followed with an RBI groundout to the second baseman, scoring Constant.
Gigliotti and Tyler Getch followed with RBI singles for Punxsy, giving it the lead 9-0 after two innings.
Blose allowed one run on two hits in the bottom of the second and worked out of a bit of a jam to leave two St. Marys runners stranded.
Punxsy scored the rest of its runs in the top of the third inning. Tyler Richardson led off with a single and advanced to third when Matthews reached on an error on a hard hit ball that tailed away from the right fielder.
Colton Roken walked to load the bases for Blose, and Blose delivered once again with a two-RBI single. Getch drove Blose home with an RBI single.
Punxsy left the bases loaded in the third, and St. Marys threatened in the bottom half of the inning loading the bases and scoring one run with two outs.
Punxsy's defense, which looked strong all night except for the third inning, committed two errors allowing St. Marys to score one run and load the bases.
Blose worked his way out of trouble, though, and kept the damage to a minimum. Punxsy led 12-2 after the third.
Punxsy was retired in order in the top of the fourth, its only inning without a hit, and Matthews took the mound early in the fourth inning for Punxsy when Blose seemed to indicate arm soreness.
Matthews mixed fastballs with off-speed pitches to keep the St. Marys hitters off balance and retired the only three batters he faced.
Blose pitched three innings, allowing two runs on three hits, struck out one and walked one.
Matthews pitched one perfect inning and fanned two.
Blose led the way for Punxsy at the plate, as well, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and five RBIs. Matthews and Gigliotti each had two hits for Punxsy, as well.
After the game, Punxsy's coaches headed down to the Mahoning Creek, and the whole team jumped in to celebrate.
"After we won in St. Marys, coach Greenblatt promised the kids that if we won, we'd all swim across the Mahoning," manager Gigliotti said. "I think that may have given the kids just a little bit of extra motivation."
Punxsy spent last night celebrating the town's first District 10 championship in baseball since 1999, but with the sectional tournament less than a week away, Punxsy will get back into the swing of things Saturday.
"We'll probably give them a day off, and then we'll get right back at it," Gigliotti said. "I don't know what we need to work on, though. Our offense is firing on all cylinders, and our defense has been strong. I just want the boys to stay fresh."