Punxsy beats Ridgway to advance to winners' bracket final

RIDGWAY — Punxsy scored 11 of its 13 runs during its final three at-bats to defeat Ridgway, 13-9, to move on to the winners' bracket final in Little League baseball All-Star action Wednesday night in Ridgway.

With the win, Punxsy advances to the winners' bracket final where it will play at 4 p.m. Sunday at DuBois. Ridgway falls to the losers' bracket where it will travel to Reynoldsville/Sykesville for a game Friday. Punxsy committed a number of errors in the game, but it still held on for the four-run victory.

"Our defense was not as spectacular as it was the other night, but it was sufficient to get the job done," manager Joe DiPietro said. "We made a few errors, which cost us a few runs, but we never got our heads down, and we battled back to put our own runs on the board. That's why we came out on top."

Ridgway jumped out to the early lead in the top of the first inning when Neal McDonald singled and scored on a home run by Josh Rubenstraw, one that DiPietro called "the longest I have ever seen in Little League baseball."

Punxsy starting pitcher Dylan Huey was able to retire the side from there, stranding one runner.

Punxsy tied the score in the bottom half of the frame when Peyton Graham reached base on an error, Ethan Riley singled, and Huey hit a two-run double.

Ridgway answered with another two-run home run in the second from Max Lowan and later plated another run when Neal McDonald singled to score Nick Simon, who reached base on an error. The three-run second gave Ridgway a 5-2 edge, and Rubenstraw, who pitched four strong innings, was able to strike out the side in order to keep the lead.

Punxsy added three runs in the third to tie the game again at five. Graham led off the inning with a walk, and then Riley doubled. The next batter, Joey DiPietro, plated both of them with a double to right-center field, and he later scored on a passed ball.

Ridgway took the lead back in the fourth inning, as leadoff batter Joe Kucenski singled. Baumgratz doubled to drive Kucenski home, and Baumgratz later scored on a fielding error by Punxsy.

Rubenstraw walked, and Punxsy committed another error, loading the bases. Two runs were then scored on two Ridgway groundouts, making the score 9-5.

Punxsy tied the game in the fourth with four runs, and it added four more in the fifth to cap the win.

Lucas Ambler relieved Graham in the sixth inning and was able to hold Ridgway scoreless. Ambler allowed a leadoff single, but then struck out the next two batters. He allowed another single, putting runners on first and second, and then struck out the next batter to retire the side and wrap up the win for Punxsy.

"Lucas did a great job closing it out for us," manager DiPietro said. "Their guys were good, aggressive hitters, and he kept them off balance with some really good off-speed stuff."

DiPietro was also impressed with the level of talent several of Ridgway's players displayed, singling out Rubenstraw.

"He was one of the best pitchers they'll probably see, and they were aggressive," he said. "The guys were able to manufacture some runs, continually put the ball in play, and the other team made a few errors that worked to our benefit."

Punxsy will now begin preparing for its next game.

"We will continue working hard on closing the holes in our defense and to continue to be aggressive at the plate," DiPietro said.