‘Nightmarish’ inning costs Beaver in PIAA championship loss to Selinsgrove
By: Chris Harlan
Friday, June 14, 2019 | 5:35 PM
UNIVERSITY PARK — This season was mostly a dream come true until the fifth inning Friday, which felt quite the opposite.
“Very nightmarish,” said first-year Beaver coach Noah Medich. “I’ll probably have nightmares about that inning.”
WPIAL champion Beaver committed three errors and allowed five runs in the fifth inning of a 7-4 loss to Selinsgrove in the PIAA Class 4A championship at Penn State’s Medlar Field.
The ugly inning, which included two throwing errors on the same play, put the Bobcats in a six-run hole that they couldn’t overcome. Selinsgrove sent all nine batters to the plate.
“You can’t have that many errors out there,” shortstop Harrison Pontoli said. “That was the only way we said we’d lose — if we beat ourselves — and that’s what happened.”
It was likely Beaver’s worst inning all season, Medich said, and it came at an awful time. Afterward, Selinsgrove led 7-1.
“It was just that one bad inning,” Medich said. “If you limit that to two runs, three runs even? You’ve got to find a way to get out of the inning.”
Beaver (17-8) rallied with three runs in the seventh but the comeback fizzled with the bases loaded. The Bobcats, state runners-up in 1983 and 2013, were seeking their first PIAA title.
The team made four errors overall and those miscues played a role in all but one of Selinsgrove’s runs. Medich blamed the uncharacteristic mistakes on nerves.
“I think early we made the moment too big for ourselves,” Medich said. “Once we simplified it a little bit, it seemed like we settled down. But we just never got our feet underneath us today.”
Selinsgrove (20-5) was the District 4 champion. The state title was the team’s first.
Beaver had surged through the postseason behind an offense that was scoring runs by the dozen. The Bobcats had outscored their first seven playoff opponents 65-13 including a pair of 13-run games against Blackhawk and Punxsutawney.
But they managed only five hits against Selinsgrove starter Blaise Zeiders, a senior who allowed a run in the first followed by five shutout inning. Zeiders was cruising until the seventh when Beaver had its first four batters reach base.
With Zeiders’ pitch count at the limit, Selinsgrove turned to freshman reliever Ryan Reich, who allowed two more runners to reach base. But with Beaver runners on first and second, Reich escaped with a strikeout and a game-ending groundout.
Jack Yanssens had two RBIs and Pontoli scored twice.
The senior-heavy team started its schedule 0-3 and finished second in its own section, but Beaver surged late in the season to win the program’s fourth WPIAL title.
The 17-player roster includes 14 seniors.
“I’m super proud of those guys,” Medich said, holding back tears. “We’ve been through a lot this year.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .