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Mount Union survives 1-0 extra inning marathon to win D6 title


ALTOONA – It was a picther’s duel to the very end at the District 6 Class 3A baseball championship Friday afternoon at PNG Field in Altoona.

Dylan Gearhart pitched the game of his life and Grayson McClain came through with a walk-off bases-loaded single in the ninth to lift Mount Union to the 1-0 win over Philipsburg-Osceola for the district title.

The win was the 18th district title for the Trojans in their 28th finals appearance – both are District 6 records. It was the first championship for Mount Union since 2012.

The Trojans face the loser of Biglerville-Oley Valley in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Monday at a site in District 6 to be determined.

“I can’t be happier for these guys. They worked very hard all season. We had a complete game today, especially with our pitching and defense,” Mount Union coach Tim Hicks said. âItás a great feeling to be district champions.”

Ethan Carbaugh led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to left. Seth Smith walked and Quinnten Fultz reached on a fielderás choice moving Smith over to third. Bryce Stinson walked to load the bases and McClain saw dead red on a 2-1 count and ripped a single to left plating Carbaugh for the game winner.

“Every ball we hit hard today was right at a guy but when it finally went by the third baseman I was relieved. These guys deserve it so much,” Hicks said. “Just to see the ball go in the outfield and watch our guys touch a base to make sure the run counted and hey, weáre district champions.”

McClain, who was 0-for-3 before the key hit, was looking fastball all the way.

“The whole day was very stressful for me with three strikeouts and a walk. I came in looking for a fastball and luckily I got one, I just did what I had to do with it,” McClain said. I was getting ready to cry when it got through. I still can’t believe it. We came down here knowing Dylan was going to throw a great game and the defense played amazing. This was a team win.”

Gearhart pitched a complete nine-inning game for the victory. The Trojan senior gave up five hits, fanning five with zero walks.

“The first batter of the game had a 12-pitch at bat against Dylan and then to throw a nine inning, complete game in high school is just amazing,” Hicks said. “You can’t ask for a guy who has more control, more grit, he can always throw a strike when you need him to and he trusted his defense. I thought the big inning was the eighth. He gave up the lead-off double and pitched his way out of it. Our defense made plays after they got the hit which goes to show how determined our team was today.”

The Mounties (15-8) had only one batter reach second base on the day at that was Isaiah Dixon, who led off with a double in the left-center gap to start the eighth. Gearhart ended the threat with a pop up to short, a fly out to center and a fly out to right.

I’ve said this since they’ve had the rule: At this point in the year, me personally, they should have a staggered thing. Like, first week make it 80 pitches and 120 by this time,” Sankey said. “(Whitehead) could have thrown 120 pitches. It’s frustrating. But they put some good at-bats up, fouled some balls off and worked good counts. We didn’t do that.”

Gearhart (8-2) dedicated the game to Eric Knable, who had a tragic accident recently and is still in the hospital. There was no doubt in the young pitchers mind McClain would come through in the clutch.

“I didn’t think I would go nine to be honest. In the first game of the season my sophomore year, Grayson came up and walked us off and I knew, I had that gut feeling, he would do it. There was no one better for that position,” Gearhart said. “Eric Knable is like a second dad to me. We were all playing for him. making that promise to him come true is great. Its unreal.”

P-O pitcher Ryan Whitehead also had a stellar day on the mound. The Mountie senior went seven-plus innings, giving up no runs on four hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. He reached his pitch limit in the eighth and gave way to Carson Jones, who took the loss in relief.

“I thought we’d score one run for him. Thatás all we needed to do. Push one run across,” P-O coach Doug Sankey said. ”It’s  frustrating. But they put some good at-bats up, fouled some balls off and worked good counts. We didn’t do that. We all try to look on the bright side. We’re playing Monday, and you never know.”

Hicks had nothing but praise for the Mountie pitcher.

“We knew he was a control pitcher who didn’t walk a lot of guys. He was able to hit spots and we tried to adjust to that. In the beginning, he had our number. We had a hard time the first three innings making solid contact. We started to hit the ball harder from the fourth inning on,” Hicks said. “It’s high school baseball. If you don’t get three hits in a row, if youáre not walking guys and your teamás not making errors, itás hard to score. And thats exactly what he did. He didn’t walk us, he kept the ball in play and his defense made plays behind him. Itás sad when you have to come out of the game because you reached your pitches. He did a great job.”

Mount Union missed opportunities with runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Fultz was on third with one out and failed to score. The Trojans left 11 runners on base.

Quinton Posey led Mount Union with two hits. Nathan Gustkey had two hits for the Mounties.

Mount Union 1, Philipsburg-Osceola 0

P-O 000 000 000 – 0-5-2

    Mount Union 000 000 001 0 1-8-0

WP: Dylan Gearhart. LP: Carson Jones. SO: Ryan Whitehead 8 (P-O); Gearhart 5 (MU). BB: Whitehead 2, Jones 2 (P-O). 2B: Isaiah Dixon (P-O); Quinton Posey (MU). MH: Nathan Gustkey 2-4 (P-O); Posey 2-4 (MU). RBI: Grayson McClain (MU).

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