Before the start of the third inning of Titusville's home game against New Bethlehem Wednesday, the ll-star infield of the gold clad 12 and under baseballers decided to practice their double play tosses. Like Tinkers, to Evers to Chance, the fabled hall of fame double play impresarios, Huck to Smith to Oviatt flawlessly moved the ball like lightning across the diamond.
“They just do that on their own,” said head coach Adam Huck.
This type of dedication to practice led to some pretty impressive, and important, plays in the field Wednesday in their third game of the double-elimination tournament. Though they never converted a double play on three attempts, they did manage to keep those baserunners out of scoring position while recording valuable outs and thwarting any glimmer of momentum.
And one diving stop by Miles Smith with a from his belly toss to Carter Huck at second for the force out drew gasps and applause from the crowd, including the New Bethlehem side.
“They love to play together,” coach Huck said of his son and Smith. “These kids are beginning to understand where they need to be in certain situations. That’s what you gotta do in all stars.”
It's been this level of play from the young team that has them in a position to take on a very good Butler team tonight. Huck said he only has two 12-year-olds on the team.
They lost a tight battle to Clarion 3-1 in the first game of the tournament on a soggy field in Rimersburg.“Clarion is always good, always well coached. I was pretty happy we went out there and played well,” coach Huck said.
They bounced back with a strong come from behind win against Knox 6-3. Coach Huck said that catcher Noah Smith was brilliant in that game with good at-bats and stellar work behind the plate. "I don't think he had a single passed ball the whole game."
This set up a home game against New Bethlehem where it was really no contest. Titusville's bats, aggressive base-running, speed and heads-up p[lay was just too much for their visitors.
Though New Bethlehem struck first in the top of the first, once Miles Smith drilled a rocket back off the pitcher, it was obvious who was going to prevail. His cousin Kellen Smith then sent a ball into the outfield for a double and the rabbit-like Miles flew around the bases from first to score and tie the game. On a throw home, Kellen Smith ended up on third.
Then, noting the New Bethlehem pitcher was not paying close attention as he walked back to the mound, Kellen stole home to take the lead they would never relinquish.
By the end of the inning they were up 3-1 after Bowen Wakefield decided to swing at a ball over his head and managed to put it into right field to score Huck for the RBI.
This was the kind of night they would have where everything seemed to work.
In the end they just poured it on. They scored three in the first, five in the second and another five in the third. New Bethlehem managed to score enough in the fifth to make Titusville bat, but it wasn’t long before they ended the contest 15-4.
Coach Huck complimented his three pitchers on the night. “It was a complete team effort on the mound tonight.”
Charlie Ackerman did the majority of the pitching, only giving up one run. Bowen Wakefield came in to relieve and Brennen Alberth finished the game. “Bowen had a really great game tonight, he put the bat on the ball a lot and came in to do what we needed him to do on the mound,” couch Huck said.
He also pointed out Oviatt’s play as a first time all-star. A key early hit drove in a couple runs and played a solid first base.
Huck’s son had a monster game - scoring twice and reaching base in each of his at-bats. He drove in the final two runs in the walk-off victory.
Titusville moves on to face Butler in the consolation quarter-finals tonight at home. Coach Huch said Butler and Franklin are probably the two best teams in the tournament and knows his team has their work cut out for them if they are going to stay alive.
Franklin takes on Cranberry tonight as well in the winners bracket semi-finals in Franklin. Oil City hosts southern Clarion County. All games are slated to start at 6 p.m.
Below are a few more photos from Wednesday game in Hydetown.
Eight & 27 focuses on stories centered around Titusville, PA. With the sad end of The Titusville Herald, we're hoping to pick up the slack.