I-Medical battles back late, advances to finals

PUNXSUTAWNEY — After downing Derry in the opening game of the Indiana County Youth League playoffs Sunday afternoon in Punxsutawney, I-Medical traveled to Derry for the second game of the best-of-three series. And in come-from-behind, dramatic fashion, Punxsy's squad clinched a berth to the finals against the Indiana Black Sox, who also won Tuesday, with a 9-7 victory Monday evening.

I-Medical jumped out to a great start in the contest, putting up a three-spot in the opening frame to put the pressure on Derry in its go-or-go-home game.

The inning started with Brycen Paulinellie reaching on an error, and Dakota Thomas followed by putting two on base with a single.

Up next, Clayton Dale, who had gone 4-for-4 in Sunday's contest, made it 5-for-5 on the series with a bases-clearing two-RBI triple to plate both Paulinellie and Thomas and give the visiting squad a 2-0 lead.

With Dale on third, I-Medical's Dakotah Byers connected on an RBI single that pushed the lead to three runs.

After that, though, Punxsy's bats went cold for the next four frames, managing just two hits and no runs.

Meanwhile, Punxsy starter Hunter Hickok kept Derry off the board in the first two innings, but in the third, he ran into some trouble, as the home squad put together a few hits with a few walks to score seven runs and take a 7-3 lead.

Punxsy showed its "never-say-never" mentality, though, putting up six runs over the final two innings to rebound and earn the series-deciding win.

In the sixth inning, Byers reached on a fielder's choice, and Lance Pennington walked to put a pair on and set the stage for a two-out, two-RBI double off the bat of Shane Little.

With the new life, Punxsy showed no signs of quit in the seventh either, putting up a four-spot to take the lead — one it would hold on to in the bottom of the inning.

Thomas started the inning with a single, and Dale reached again via a walk.

With the tying run on first base, Hickok did his part by driving a triple to clear the bases and tie the game up at lucky sevens.

Ruben Taylor singled Hickok home for the go-ahead run, and after a Byers single and another walk to Pennington loaded the bases for the visiting squad, Brandon Blose added one insurance run with a sacrifice fly plating Taylor.

With both the Sox and I-Medical each wrapping up their series in two games, the first game of the finals was pushed up to this evening, when Punxsy will host Indiana in the first game of a best-of-three series.