Zoom in on Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania’s 7-5 win over Middleboro, Massachusetts on Saturday at Lamade Stadium.
GAME OF THE GAME – Aspen Anderson’s fifth-inning relief performance: OK, that’s a bit of a cheat since it’s two games. But it was the turning point of the game. Massachusetts had cut a 4-1 deficit to 4-3 and had the go-ahead runners at first and second after ripping three hits. Anderson then entered and extinguished the fire. As he did at regionals, Anderson excelled under extreme pressure. He recorded a strikeout for the second out, then closed the inning by inducing a flyout. Pennsylvania seized the momentum and scored three in the bottom of the inning to take control. Anderson did it again in the sixth inning after Massachusetts scored two runs with two outs and brought the tying run home. This time Anderson caught a hard-hit Grounder off the mound and pitched first for the endgame.
GAME PENNSYLVANIA–Jackson Boob: Pennsylvania produced a fantastic team performance, so it was a tough call as every player did their part. Boob epitomized that, coming off the bench to excel, so he’s the pick. Boob went 1 for 2 with three RBIs in a reserve role. He did his job first and moved the runners in the fourth inning, hitting an RBI grounder before delivering one of the biggest hits of the game an inning later. Boob scored a two-run single that put Pennsylvania ahead 7-3 and had many of the 16,287 fans cheering at maximum volume.
MASSACHUSETTS PLAYER OF THE GAME — Mike Marzelli: The hard-hitting second baseman capped off his super summer with another solid performance. Marzelli went 2 for 4 with an RBI and was in the middle of both rallies the first two innings in which Massachusetts scored. Marzelli sparked a first-inning rally with a single before scoring on Ayden Morris’ RBI double. He added an RBI single in the fifth inning, pulling his team up 4-2. An honorable mention goes to Jayden Murphy who went 2 for 4 with a double and three RBIs.
BIG ROUND – Pennsylvania fifth: The Mid-Atlantic champions scored four times in the fourth to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead. But because Massachusetts responded right away with a two-run top of the fifth, it’s the bottom of the fifth that gets the call here. Pennsylvania put five of its first six batters on base this inning and Caleb Detrick made it 5-3 with an RBI single before Boob hit his timely two-run single.
BEST EFFORT-Every Team Coming Back: Whenever it seemed like these teams were down for the count, they kept coming back. Pennsylvania did it in the fourth inning after Gavin Gillpatrick shut it down the first three innings. By then, Pennsylvania had gone eight straight scoreless innings, but responded with four runs in the fourth. Trailing 4-1, Massachusetts delivered three straight hits and cut it to 4-3 in the fifth, only for Pennsylvania to respond with three runs. Finally, it looked like Massachusetts was over, but again, it wasn’t. The New England champions scored two runs from two out when Jayden Murphy hit a two-run single. It took a fine play from Anderson on the mound to finally put this valiant team away.
HOME RUNS: Chase Link had struggled in his first two games until he tattooed a 1-0 shot well over the center field fence and helped Pennsylvania break through to tie the game, 1-1. That home run was a game-changer, giving Pennsylvania the boost it desperately needed. The Mid-Atlantic champions took off from there, scoring four times in the fourth and three in the fifth to go up 7-3. Link has delivered big hits over the past two years playing on this team and that home run may have been his biggest yet.
FLASHING LEATHER: Pitcher Braden Hatch and the Pennsylvania defense converted a huge double play to prevent Massachusetts from setting up a big first inning. Massachusetts led 1-0 when Hatch fielded a slow roll just left of the mound. He eyed the lead runner and held him halfway down the line before throwing to first baseman Brody Dull for the second out. When the runner escaped for home, Dull made a perfect pitch home for catcher Chase Link, hitting him in the chest. Link made a quick beacon and Pennsylvania put out the fire. He can get lost in what happened in a big offensive fourth inning, but that double play was one of the most important plays of the game. Third baseman Nate Phillips picked up the win in the third inning, fielding a grounded Jayden Murphy down the line. Murphy can fly, but Phillips played it well and made an instant throw, with Dull stretching to help beat Murphy by a step. Gillpatrick made a shrewd play on the mound in the bottom of the inning, coming out quickly to line up a Nate Phillips bunt. Phillips was running like the wind down the line and looked like he had a bunt single. Instead, Gillpatrick’s vigilance and gun-toss beat him a step to the sack. Phillips continued to be involved in some fantastic defensive plays, again showing his glove in the fourth inning. After moving to the shortstop, Phillips loaded up a grounder and lined it up on the grass of the field. He then made a quick throw to his body with Dull making a great scoop to deny Massachusetts a hit again. Massachusetts left fielder Nathan Mello landed a terrific catch to end Pennsylvania’s fifth-inning rally. Mello somehow got into space, stretched his whole body and clung while punching and rolling on the floor. The hold was so good it even fooled Pennsylvania who sent their runners thinking the ball was down, resulting in a double play.
WHAT ADULTS SAY: “It’s who we are. We focus a lot on one team, 11 strong and it’s something we practice every day and they believe in it. Pennsylvania manager Jim McGough said. “The more they believe in it, the more they deliver, and tonight was a true testament to being able to deliver as a team and seeing everyone step in and come out with a win.”
WHAT CHILDREN SAY: ” It was great. I sit at fastball and I adapt to the curve” Link talked about his home run. “It was an up and down fastball, the same pitch I hit on. I wanted to hit that pitch because I knew I should have the front stick. I looked at this pitch and it just started flying.
WHAT IT MEANS: Pennsylvania doesn’t have much time to savor its big win. The Mid-Atlantic champions return to Lamade Stadium and at 2 p.m. Sunday play another playoff game against New York. Massachusetts wrapped up a spectacular summer in which they became the first Middleboro team to reach the series since 1994. This team was also the first to win a state championship since that season and raise the bar in their league .