Punxsutawney Area picked up an improbable come-from-behind, walk-off victory against the visiting Ligonier Valley baseball team, 17-16, in an exhibition slugfest played on Friday.
The two teams combined for 33 runs on 22 hits — 20 of those 33 runs were scored in the final two innings, as Ligonier Valley and Punxsutawney Area broke out the bats in the sixth and seventh.
Ligonier Valley took a 1-0 lead, but Punxsutawney Area responded with a four-run inning in the bottom of the second. The Rams scored six of the game’s next eight runs, highlighted by a five-run fourth to open a 7-6 lead through five innings.
Then, the fireworks started.
Both teams scored four runs in the sixth inning, as Ligonier Valley carried an 11-10 lead heading into its final at bat. The Rams scored five in the top of the seventh for a 16-10 lead, but it wasn’t enough. Punxsutawney Area put up seven runs during its final at bat in the bottom of the seventh for the eventual walk-off victory.
Nick Beitel led the Rams at the plate with three singles, three runs and two RBI, while Connor Tunstall singled twice, drove in three and scored two. Grant Dowden contributed two hits, including a double, a run and a RBI, while George Golden, Kaden Faas and Lanigan McCulty all had a hit and two runs. Jacob Bleehash also scored twice for the Rams, who produced 16 runs on 10 hits.
Carter Savage paced Punxsutawney Area with two doubles and three runs, while Kameron Falgout singled twice, scored and drove in four. Dakota Long added two hits, including a double and two runs, while Josh Tyger singled twice and scored. Zeke Bennett, Alex Phillips and Peyton Hetrick all had a hit and two runs, while Isaac London singled and scored. Jake Henretta also scored twice for Punxsutawney Area, which put up 17 runs on 12 hits.
The Rams used four pitchers. Tunstall took the loss, allowing seven runs, six earned, on six runs. Bleehash earned the start, giving up four runs, three earned, on two hits with two strikeouts and three walks in one-and-two-thirds innings pitched. Dowden worked four innings, allowing six runs, five earned on three hits with four strikeouts and five walks. Noah Lawson allowed just one hit and one walk in a third of an inning.
Justin Miller was the winning pitcher, giving up five runs, four earned, on four hits with two strikeouts and a walk in an inning. Jake Sikora gave up seven runs, five earned, in the three-inning start. He allowed three hits, struck out one and walked five. Tyger gave up four runs, three earned, on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks in two innings, while Zach Dinger fanned two and walked one in one inning of work.
Ligonier Valley is scheduled to start a critical two-game section set at Mount Pleasant Area, 4 p.m. today.
The Rams, who are currently 6-7 overall, own a 3-4 section record. Right now, that’s good for the fourth and final playoff spot in the section, ahead of fifth-place Mount Pleasant Area, which is 1-4 in the section and 4-4 overall.
Ligonier Valley lost six of seven games before knocking off Valley, the second-place team in the section last Wednesday. The Rams opened the season with four straight wins, including a pair of section games against East Allegheny, their first since returning to the WPIAL after spending the last five decades in District 6.
Ligonier Valley has currently lost seven of its last nine games played overall with wins against Leechburg Area and Valley. The Rams have been outscored, 94-54, during that span in their last nine games. They’ve allowed double digit runs five times in their last nine games, but they’ve also scored double digits three times in that run.
Lig. Valley Punxsutawney ab r h ab r h
Beitel 5 3 3 London 5 1 1 Tunstall 4 2 2 Tyger 4 1 2 Sierocky 2 1 0 Savage 4 3 2 Golden 4 2 1 Long 5 2 2 Dowden 3 1 2 Bennett 2 2 1 Mills 5 1 0 Phillips 4 2 1 Seftas 4 0 0 Henretta 1 2 0 Faas 3 2 1 Lott 2 1 0 Bleehash 1 2 0 Hetrick 2 2 1 McCulty 1 2 1 Falgout 4 1 2
Totals 32 16 10 Totals 33 17 12Lig. Valley 011 504 5 — 16 10 4Punxstwny 041 014 7 — 17 12 3 Doubles: Dowden (LV); Savage-2, Long (P) Strikeouts by: Bleehash-2, Dowden-4, Lawson-0, Tunstall-0 (LV); Sikora-1, Tyger-2, Dinger-2, Miller-2 (P) Base on balls by: Bleehash-3, Dowden-5, Lawson-1, Tunstall-0 (LV); Sikora-5, Tyger-2, Dinger-1, Miller-1 (P) Winning pitcher: Justin Miller Losing pitcher: Connor Tunstall