WINGATE - During the 2013 regular season, the Bald Eagle Area baseball team won 15 of its 20 games to enter the District 6 Class AA baseball tournament as the second-seeded team.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they ran into the Mount Union Trojans, who ended the Eagles' postseason with a one-and-done effort on a 3-0 loss Monday afternoon at sun-splashed Doc Etters Field in Wingate.
If there was some early handwriting on the wall, it became quite legible early in the game as the Eagles stranded a half dozen runners in the first three innings, including a leadoff runner on third base with nobody out in the third frame.
Sentinel photo by NATE WILSON
Mount Union second baseman Brady Goodling, back, shows the ball to confirm he beat Bald Eagle Area base runner Bryce Green (13) for an out on a fielder’s choice during their District 6 Class AA quarterfinal baseball game Monday in Wingate.
"I guess the bottom line is that it just wasn't to be," Bald Eagle Area coach Jim Gardner said. "Leaving those runners on base without scoring really hurt us. We had opportunities, but we just couldn't cash in. On the other hand, when they had the opportunities, they put the ball in play, but that is the way the game goes. They put it in play and their loopers went over the infield. When we put it in play, it was ground balls right at people and I guess that is all part of the way this game goes."
Mount Union coach Nick Imperioli agreed with Gardner in that his team didn't exactly knock the cover off the ball.
"We got some nice timely hits, but we certainly didn't hit any scorchers," he said. "But we got the hits when we needed them and things worked out nice for us. I am happy with it."
IF YOU GO
Mount Union travels to Ligonier Valley Thursday
The Trojans scored their first of two earned runs in the fourth when Brady Goodling singled to right and later scored on an RBI single to right by Dylan Sunderland. Goodling led the Trojans at the dish with three hits in four trips with a pair of singles and a double.
Up 1-0, the Trojans doubled their lead with an unearned run in the fifth when Trevon Walker reached on an error and scored on Cory Kylor's RBI single to left before Thad Wakefield completed the Mount Union scoring in the sixth when he worked Bald Eagle Area pitcher Dylan Womer for a free pass, was sacrificed to second by Hunter Atherton and scored on Klayton Heffner's RBI single to left.
Despite the outcome, Gardner was impressed with the way the Trojans came to battle.
"Mount Union came in here and I was impressed with their whole approach to the game," Gardner said. "Right from the get go when they arrived here, they had things in order and they are better than I thought they were. Four losses for them is a lot with the competition they face, but they have a nice ball club."
While an emotional Gardner was dealing with the tough loss that ended the careers of seven Bald Eagle Area seniors, legendary Mount Union coach Imperioli summed it up best as he said, "fortunately for us, Cole Boozel picked today to pitch his best game of the season."
Boozel, who mixed his fastball, changeup and sharp breaking curveball through his seven innings of work, had the Eagle hitters completely off stride for much of the game.
"In the last game he pitched, he got behind everybody, but he had it all going for himself today," Imperioli said. "He just did a great job today with all of his pitches, the fastball, curveball and changeup. He just did a great, great job and I can't say enough good things about his pitching effort today."
For the game, Boozel, although struggling in the early innings, struck out nine while walking a pair. Eagle hitters could only muster four total hits off the hard-throwing right hander.
"I threw a lot of fastballs in the first couple innings," Boozel explained. "After that, I started them off with curveballs and they started swinging at everything because they didn't know what was coming. I had a lot of my pitches working today and things worked out well for me."
The Trojans advanced to meet the Eagles with a come from behind 6-5 win over Penns Valley last week when they scored four runs in the seventh inning after entering the frame trailing the 5-2.
Boozel, who also pitched in that game, explained what the difference was that enabled him to hold down the bats of the Eagles on the heels of the near miss against the Rams.
"I kept the ball down (in the strike zone)," he said. "I kept the ball down and they weren't able to hit it. If you get the ball up, anybody can hit you regardless of how hard you throw so I knew I had to keep the ball down in the zone."
While Boozel was lights out on the mound, Imperioli was also quick to point out that he felt his players executed the fundamentals of baseball very well in all aspects of the game.
"I thought we did a great job in the field today too," Imperioli said. "We made some nice plays and that play by Cole to get one of their runners caught in a rundown between second and third was a real heads up play. BEA is a tough team and it is very difficult to beat them, especially here, so that makes me a little extra proud of the job our guys did today."
With the win, Mount Union will travel to play at Ligonier Valley, a 5-3 winner over No. 3 Richland, Thursday.