MOUNT UNION - Penns Valley threw everything it had at Mount Union Thursday, but the Trojans refused to roll over. Two clutch hits from Brady Goodling and Trevon Walker propelled Mount Union to a 6-5 walkoff win and punched a ticket to the second round of the District 6 Class AA playoffs.
Down 5-1 and with three outs remaining in the Trojans' season, Mount Union looked to its four hitter to get things rolling. And Cory Kylor came through in an unlikely fashion. The righty hit a twizzler off the end of his bat that the second baseman couldn't handle and the hope for a Trojan comeback was ignited. Coach Nick Imperioli said without Kylor's determination, the rally may not have happened.
"The key thing for us really was (Kylor) getting on as the leadoff man - I know he got on due to an error but he hustled," Imperioli said. "If he would have, in any way hung his head the way some kids do, but he didn't. He got on and he hustled."
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE?BOYER
Penns Valley’s Maxwell Bair, left, races for first base as Mount Union pitcher Klayton Heffner, second from left, goes for the unassisted put out. In the play, Bair hit a ground ball to Heffner, who decided to make the out on his own rather than throwing to first baseman Nick Smith (35).
The unusual play gave the Trojans life and the next man up, designated hitter Boomer Brown, kept the inning alive with a single that dropped behind the shortstop, setting the stage for Brady Goodling. Imperioli admitted that he was shocked with what happened next. Goodling took a 2-1 pitch from Penns Valley pitcher Maxwell Bair deep over the left field wall to tie the game.
"The bomb that (Brady) hit was a shock because he's basically a line drive hitter," Imperioli said. "He obviously got a pitch he could really turn on."
After rallying from four runs down in the seventh, it seemed like a matter of time before the Trojans would notch another hit and win the game. But after two failed sacrifice bunts and two nice plays by Bair, it looked like extra innings were in the near future.
IF YOU GO
Mount Union travels to Bald Eagle Area Monday
"We really tried hard to get a guy to second base," Imperioli said of the attempts to sacrifice bunt. "The pitcher made two nice plays."
Luck was on the Trojans' side though and with two outs, Klayton Heffner put the ball in play and reached on a second error by the second baseman which enabled Dylan Sunderland to move up to second.
Walker took care of the rest.
The lefty drove a line drive into left center that plated Sunderland and the game's winning run. Imperioli noted how fortunate the team was to get Walker to the plate in the crucial situation.
"Trevon was hitting the ball really well the whole game - we were really happy to see him get up there," he said.
Mount Union scuffled at the plate for the majority of the game, largely due to the effort by Penns Valley's right-handed pitcher Bair who kept the Trojans at bay for six innings. Bair was steady, tossing two strikeouts and only walking two batters while mixing his pitches well and pitching backward at times. The effort nearly outweighed the seven Penns Valley errors but the miscues took their toll. Imperioli was not short on praise for the Rams' senior pitcher.
"For the whole game I thought (Bair) did an outstanding job against us," he said. "He showed a true pitcher's moxie out there - he pitched backward a lot, starting with a breaking ball then coming back with a changeup and I thought he did a heck of a job."
Mount Union had opportunities in the game but the squad didn't score its first run until the fifth inning when Walker reached on an error and Cole Boozel blasted a double to keep the inning alive. Kylor pulled a ball to the third baseman that he couldn't come up with and scored Walker who was going on contact.
Down 2-1 heading to the sixth, the Trojans needed a shutdown inning from Boozel who relieved Heffner in the fifth. The Rams came right back though and proved they deserved to be in the game. Penns Valley utilized two hit batsmen, a walk and two hits to tack on three more runs and take a commanding 5-1 lead. Boozel used his high powered fastball and sharp curve to get out of the jam but Imperioli said (Boozel) didn't have his best stuff.
"(Boozel) didn't look all that sharp - he did the one inning then the last inning but he's got good stuff, it's just one of those days," he said.
After plating a run in the bottom of the sixth, Boozel took the mound in the top of the seventh, trying to hold the Rams down and give his Trojans a chance in the bottom of the frame. Boozel did just that, getting the first batter to fly out to center then striking out the next two hitters - retiring the Rams in order for the first time all afternoon.
The Trojans got two hits from Goodling and two from Walker. Brown chipped in with a hit and so did Thad Wakefield. Dylan Sunderland also notched a single for the Trojans. Klayton Heffner started the game on the mound and tossed four innings while giving up seven hits and three earned runs. Heffner struck out three and distributed three free passes. Despite the numbers, Imperioli and his Trojans live to fight another day.
"It's a nice win for us - it keeps you alive," he said. " I love this time of the year because it's all or nothing every game - you just pour everything you got on that bench into the game because man this could be it.
"I'm proud of them, I'm proud of the comeback."
Mount Union will head to Bald Eagle Area Monday.