BELLEVILLE - In just their second game of the postseason, the Big Valley 11 and 12-year old Little League all stars had to go through a plethora of emotions during their District 5 contest against a historically strong State College National team in a meeting of the unbeatens. Unfortunately for the locals, State College was the only team to walk away with an unscathed record.
After falling behind 5-0, the team from Big Valley scratched and clawed its way back to take a lead going into the late innings. However, a heads up play by a State College runner put Big Valley up against the ropes going into the final innings.
Then in the top of the sixth, State College added three runs in its last at bats before Mother Nature added her presence. With a massive storm about to hit, the game was called by the umpires, placing the score back to the previous inning's total for a 7-6 State College victory.
Sentinel photo by KENNY VARNER
Big Valley starting pitcher Braden Kibe (15) attempts to put a tag on State College's Jarrett Beyer in the second inning of the teams’ second round District 5 11 and 12-year-old Little League all-star game Tuesday in Belleville.
But the comeback effort didn't get lost in the shuffle and Big Valley manager Shawn Kibe was proud of how his team stuck in the contest.
"I told the guys that State College is a tough team and they needed to just hang in there and the hits will come," Kibe said. "I am very proud how they came back."
After a scoreless first inning, State College made its move.
Trenton Decker got the inning under way, walking to start things off. Teammate Jarrett Beyer followed in Decker's footsteps, accompanying him on the basepaths with a walk of his own.
Tyler Gulley then got the Nationals on the board, roping an RBI single to Decker.
With one out and runners on second and third, Ryan Battista hit into a fielder's choice that allowed Beyer to score on the play. With Gulley on third, starting pitcher Justin Vescio helped his own cause, hitting a double into center field. He later scored on a double by lead off hitter Jack Mangene.
State College then upped its lead to 5-0 after picking up a run in the top of the third inning. However, the boys from Big Valley did not hang their heads, but went right to work on cutting into State College's lead.
Max Oburn got his team started with a walk of his own, then a single by Drew Westover put Oburn primed and ready at third base with no one out. From there, Connor Yoder blasted a double that scooted into the outfield, making it 5-2.
State College held the rest of the inning but was just about to see what the Big Valley offense was capable of.
With the score standing at 5-2 going into the bottom of the fourth, Big Valley got its inning started once again thanks to a walk to Mitch Stauffer. Stauffer was replaced on the base path by pinch runner John Retherford.
After an out, Ty Nearhood showed his patience at the plate and reached by a walk. The moment belonged to Oburn as he loaded the bases by belting a single into left field. Westover then showed it was his time to shine as he blasted a two-RBI double, cutting the deficit to one.
Brady Kenepp brought the tying run in, scoring Oburn and sending Westover to third on a sacrifice. From there, Yoder finished the rally in grand style for Big Valley, blasting the inning's second double and plating Westover in the process.
But the wheels fell off the Big Valley car in the top of the fifth as a heads up play by Decker and Gulley brought in the two runs State College needed to come back and take the lead 7-6.
Going into the final inning, State College got a three-run round tripper by Neil Singer, upping the lead. But as the clouds grew dark, the thunder loud and the lightning closer, the umpires were forced to call the game and according to Little League rules, they reverted back to the fifth inning for the score, ending it at 7-6.
With the loss, Big Valley moves into the consolation bracket, where it will face either Bellefonte or Marion Walker Thursday.