Minich, Redbank Valley blank KC in D-9 2A final
DUBOIS — Redbank Valley senior Tate Minich was named Keystone-Shortway Athletic Conference baseball MVP this season.
He showed why on Monday.
Minich pitched one-hit ball over five innings and belted a towering three-run homer in the fifth frame to lead the Bulldogs to an 8-0 victory over Karns City in the District 9 2A championship game at Showers Field.
“MVPs do MVP things,” Redbank Valley coach Craig Hibell said. “That’s what Tate did today. He went out and did what he had to do for us to win this ballgame.”
The District 9 baseball title is the Bulldogs’ first since 2010.
Minich and Jaxon Huffman wound up combining on a two-hitter. Jacob Jones and Mallick Metcalfe had singles for Karns City (15-7), which did not get a runner to second base.
“That’s how it goes ... sometimes it just isn’t your day,” KC coach Josh Smith said. “Today was definitely not our day.”
Both teams played errorless ball, but Redbank Valley (18-4) jumped on Gremlin starter Metcalfe for three runs in the first inning. Mason Clouse delivered a two-out, two-run single to center, moving to second on the throw to the plate. He scored on Ty Carrier’s line single to left.
Metcalfe kept the deficit at three through four innings, but his team could not generate any offense. Braden Grossman walked in the second and fifth innings, but was erased by double-play ground balls both times. Troy Nagel followed the fifth-inning double play by drawing a walk himself, but his courtesy runner was picked off first base.
“We played sharp baseball today all the way around, really a clean game,” Hibell said. “Hats off to our pitching. That area was our biggest question mark entering the season and we’ve given up one run in 21 innings of playoff baseball so far.”
The Bulldogs shut out the Gremlins for the second time, blanking them 7-0 in an early regular season game on March 30.
“They’re a darn good team and Coach Hibell and I are good friends,” Smith said. “They play the game the same way we do. I have a lot of respect for them.”
The Bulldogs put the game away in the fifth. No. 9 hitter Peyton Rearick doubled to left and Owen Clouse reached on a bunt single. Minich then homered over the 366-foot sign in left-center field.
“That was the dagger,” Smith said.
Braylon Wagner and Huffman produced RBI singles later in the frame to close out the scoring.
“This was the definition of a team win,” said Minich, who entered the game with a 2.14 earned run average. “Everybody on that field contributed to us winning this game.”
Metcalfe struck out six and pitched on three days rest.
“We were a little bit nervous before the game and I think that played a factor,” Metcalfe said. “But our season’s not over. We’ll move forward and learn from what happened on this field today, hopefully win a state playoff game.’
The Gremlins play the WPIAL champion on June 5 in the first round of the PIAA tourney.
“This loss doesn’t define us as a team or as who we are,” Smith said. “It’s one game. We advanced far enough to qualify for the state tournament, so we’ll go back to work and get ready.”
Karns City 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
Redbank Valley 300 050 x — 8 11 0
WP: Tate Minich 5IP (4so, 3bb). LP: Mallick Metcalfe 4.2IP (6so, 1bb)
Karns City (15-7): Jacob Jones 1B, Mallick Metcalfe 1B.
Redbank Valley (18-4): Owen Clouse 1B, Tate Minich HR 2B 3-RBI 2-R, Breckin Minich 2-1B, Mason Clouse 2-1B 2-RBI 2-R, Ty Carrier 1B RBI, Braylon Wagner 1B RBI, Jaxon Huffman 1B RBI, Petyton Rearick 2B.
June 5: PIAA 2A Tournament-Karns City vs. WPIAL champion, site and time TBA