Early and often: I-Medical pours it on in win

PUNXSUTAWNEY — I-Medical scored at least once in five of its six trips to the plate Wednesday evening in Punxsutawney, including five in the first two frames, to cruise to a 10-3 victory over Marion Center in Indiana County Youth League action.

The home squad never trailed in the contest and used strong pitching and timely hitting to pick up its 10 runs on just eight hits.

Punxsy starter Dakotah Byers allowed one runner to reach base in the first inning but still managed to retire the side in order with the help of his catcher, Clayton Dale.

Marion Center leadoff hitter Hunter Stiteler reached base on an error by third baseman Brandon Blose, but Dale bailed Blose out when his throw beat Stiteler to second by several steps for the first out.

Byers easily handled the next two hitters, striking out Colton Fairman and forcing Jason Cribbs into an unassisted groundout to first baseman Ethan Ambler.

I-Medical wasted no time taking the lead, scoring a pair in the home half of the first.

Dale sparked the two-run inning by stretching a one-out hit down the left field line into a double, and when Hunter Hickok reached base on a throwing error by the shortstop, Dale took the extra base to score and give his squad a 1-0 lead.

Hickok moved up to third on a wild pitch, and when Ruben Taylor took a two-out walk, Hickok scored after the throw back from the catcher wasn't handled by Marion Center starter Jason Labryer.

Blose was hit by a pitch to keep the inning going, but Labryer forced Lance Pennington to fly out to left to stop the bleeding.

Marion Center tied it in the top of the second with two of its own on a rally started by a walk to cleanup hitter Mitchell Gordish.

A Labryer single put two on, and a dropped fly ball on a diving attempt by Taylor loaded the bases.

Marion Center's first run came on an RBI fielder's choice off the bat of Eric Hicks, and the second came on a two-out wild pitch, plating Labryer.

With the score tied at two, though, Punxsy answered back with a two-out three spot on just two hits.

It began with a one-out walk issued to No. 9 hitterRyan Jones, who was forced out on a fielder's choice for the second out off the bat of Shane Little.

A stray throw to first went out of play, allowing Little to take second, and another error on a grounder by Dakota Thomas allowed Little to score and give Punxsy its lead back for good.

Dale walked and stole second uncontested, as Marion Center was concerned about the runner scoring from third, and the gamble paid off, as Hickok came through with a two-RBI single.

Unfortunately for I-Medical the two-out magic ended there, as Hickok was gunned down attempting to stretch the single into two bases.

Marion Center added one in the next frame after a leadoff triple by Stiteler got things moving.

Byers almost worked out of the mess on his own, striking out the next two he saw, but an RBI single by Gordish gave the visitors a third and final run before a groundout to first ended the frame.

Punxsy got the one it had given up back in the bottom of the third, with Taylor drawing a leadoff walk and stealing second.

Pennington drew a walk to put a pair on, and Ambler followed with an RBI single to put I-Medical back up by three.

Byers and Marion Center relief pitcher Stiteler were each flawless in the fourth, retiring the opponent's side in order, and with his pitch count climbing, Byers was replaced by Hickok in the fifth.

Hickok surrendered a leadoff walk but picked up a quick K and worked out of the predicament with a pair of ground balls.

The home team manufactured another run in the top of the fifth to push it's lead to 7-3 with a bit of help from a Marion Center fielding mistake.

With one out, Byers hit a soft fly to right. Despite getting under it, the right fielder misplayed it, and Byers was safe at first.

Byers stole both second and third to set up a sacrifice fly to shallow center by Taylor, which put Punxsy up by four.

Hickok made things interesting in the sixth, walking three Marion Center hitters before a pair of bases-loaded Ks got him out of the self- inflicted mess.

I-Medical added three insurance runs in the home half to put the game even further out of reach at 10-3.

Another Marion Center error gave Punxsy its first baserunner when the first baseman misplayed a lazy pop up off the bat of Jones, and Punxsy capitalized by pushing Jones and two others across.

Jones moved from first to third on a groundout to third by Little when nobody stayed home to cover the bag, and he came in to score on a single by Thomas.

Dale flew out to center for the second out, but Hickok helped his cause with an RBI double down the first baseline.

Byers plated I-Medical's final run by driving in Hickok with his first base knock of the day before Stiteler struck out Taylor to close it out.

Hickok kept his no-hit streak alive in the seventh, but continued to struggle with his control, after one reached on an error and one walked, and he allowed them to advance to second and third on a wild pitch.

With two outs, though, he managed to set Gordish down on a swinging third strike for his sixth K to end the game and give I-Medical a 10-3 victory.

I-Medical will be back in action Friday night when it hosts Clymer in an 8:30 p.m. start after Fezell Enterprises, the other Punxsy team, hosts Young Twp. at 6 p.m.