CURWENSVILLE — Punxsy's 13- and 14-year old VFW Teener League All-Stars scored seven runs in the third inning and six runs in the seventh en route to an 18-8 win over Curwensville in round-robin play in the Area 6 tournament Wednesday night in Curwensville.
"Our hitting has been spotty," Punxsy manager Doug Mesoraco said. "We'll have innings where we don't have a good plate approach and then have innings where we have lots of good at-bats in a row. We need to be more consistent with things like moving runners over, plate discipline and taking advantage of first pitch strikes right down the middle. This is a younger group of kids, and we're still working on those things."
Brycen Paulinellie kick-started Punxsy's offense in the third with a leadoff triple to deep left-center field, his second triple of the game.
Ruben Taylor drove him in with a sacrifice fly to the center fielder. Taylor had also driven in Punxsy's first run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning, scoring Paulinellie.
Dakota Byers reached on an error by the shortstop and scored on a one-out RBI double by Brandon Blose.
Zach Bevak and Doug Pollack walked to load the bases.
Matt Griffith followed with an RBI single, and Ryan Jones had an RBI walk.
Two runs scored on a sharply hit ball down the third base line by Keeston Perry.
Punxsy's scoring was capped by an RBI single by Paulinellie, scoring Jones and giving it a 8-1 lead.
Curwensville answered with one run in the bottom of the frame, and Punxsy didn't score again until the fifth inning when Keeston Perry singled, stole second and scored on a single by Paulinellie.
Punxsy scored three runs in the sixth, highlighted by an RBI-single by Pollack and an RBI-groundout by Jones.
Punxsy's bats came alive again in the top of the seventh. Punxsy brought 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs.
Lance Pennington led off the inning with a single and scored on a fielder's choice when the center fielder misplayed a ball hit by Taylor.
Taylor scored on an RBI double by Blose, his third double of the game.
Bevak and Pollack followed with RBI singles of their own. Bevak later scored on a bases-loaded walk, and Pollack scored on a balk by Curwensville pitcher Harry Bloom.
Punxsy received a strong pitching performance from starting pitcher Blose, who pitched four-plus innings, only allowing two runs despite 11 Curwensville hits.
Blose faced jams in both the third and fourth innings when Curwensville loaded the bases with no outs in each frame, but Blose pitched out of both jams, allowing just one run in the third. His defense also assisted him with a nice double-play in the third.
Punxsy only allowed two runs through the first five innings but allowed six in the last two innings.
In a typical game, giving up a few runs with such a large lead wouldn't be a big deal, but in the round-robin format, one of the tie-breakers that may come into play is run differential against.
In other words, the team that allows the fewest runs wins the tie if the teams split in head-to-head action.
"They scored four in the last inning on walks and some misplayed balls, plus a few clutch hits," Mesoraco said. "Naturally, we were playing to keep the runs to a minimum. We just didn't make the plays that were necessary to give us a comfortable lead in run differential."
With Punxsy and Clearfield tied with 17 runs against going into Friday night's games, winning is not the only thing on the coaches' minds.
"All the games become meaningful this way," Mesoraco said. "Sometimes, that's almost a negative when it makes you do different things that you usually wouldn't do to run up the score. But, everyone understands the conditions and regulations. So, we'll do the best we can, and we'll see what happens on Friday."
If Punxsy and Clearfield both win Friday, the team that allows the fewest runs will be named the Area 6 champion in the state tournament, which will be held in Punxsy July 29-Aug. 1.
Even with the state tournament just around the corner, Mesoraco wants his players focused on Friday's game.
"What we do know is we are gong to play Friday against Philipsburg," he said. "It's a must win for us, and we've got to keep the runs to a minimum so that we're the champion of Area 6."
If Punxsy wins Area 6, it will play the runner-up of the Area 2 tournament first at States. But if it loses, it will play the winner of the tournament in the guaranteed host spot.