EVERETT - Playing from behind for an entire game puts a lot of pressure on the team that is trailing.
Mount Union applied that pressure by scoring four runs in the top of the first and led 6-0 in the third inning before holding on for a 7-5 victory over District 5 champion Bedford in a PIAA Class AA first-round playoff game Monday.
Mount Union took advantage of what was given to it by scoring its first six runs with two outs, while the seventh run came with the help of two Bedford errors.
Sentinel photo by SAM?SHUSS
Mount Union pitcher Cole Boozel sneaks a look to first to eye a Bedford runner Monday. Boozel pitched the final 3 1/3 innings to get the win in a 7-5 victory over Bedford.
It didn't take long for Mount Union to jump on top in the first inning. With one out, Boomer Brown singled, Cole Boozel walked and Cory Kylor hit a bloop single to right to load the bases.
After a pop-up for the second out, Trevon Walker lined a single to center that plated two runs, and Thad Wakefield followed that with a deep double to left field that brought in two more for the 4-0 lead.
Bedford tried to answer as Kody Blevins hit an infield single and Isaac Kline walked to start the bottom of the first. However, Mount Union pitcher Klayton Heffner got the next three batters to end the threat.
The Trojans were back at it in the third inning. Brady Goodling and Walker led off the innings with singles, but Bedford pitcher Tyler Black got a strikeout and Dylan Downs had a tremendous diving catch in left-center for the next out.
Mount Union came up with big hits with two outs again as Dylan Sunderland blooped a single to left to bring in Goodling, and Heffner helped himself with by beating out an infield hit that brought in Walker for a 6-0 lead.
"They got a couple of bloops and a couple hard hit balls," Bedford coach Scott Waugerman noted. "Mount Union is a very fundamental team. It is not ideal to fall behind them like that."
However, the Bisons began to chip away at the Trojan lead. Blevins led off the bottom of the third with a single between the first and second basemen, and Kline hit a ball to deep left-center for a double.
Campbell hit a ground ball that the Mount Union third baseman dove for and came up with, but his throw to first was off line allowing Blevins and Kline to score. With Campbell on second, Heffner got two strikeouts, a walk and a ground out to end the threat.
Bedford was not done. With one out in the fourth, Aaron Henry dribbled a ball up the third base line for an infield single and Blevins put down a bunt that followed the same path for another hit, his third of the game.
Isaac Kline hit a ball up the middle that was flagged down by Mount Union shortstop Cole Boozel, who spun around to get the ball to second for a force out.
That was a big play because the next batter was Campbell, and the Bedford backstop smashed a line-drive home run over the left field fence that cut the deficit to 6-5.
Mount Union coach Nick Imperioli went to the mound to change pitchers and brought on Boozel, who has been the ace of the staff. He got a strikeout to end the inning.
Boozel did not allow a Bedford batter to put a ball in play until a fly ball ended the bottom of the sixth. He had five strikeouts to that point as well as a walk, but that runner was erased trying to steal second.
Kline game on to pitch for the Bisons to start the fourth, and the sophomore did not allow a run in his first two innings. The Trojans did get an an unearned run in the sixth.
Brown singled and Boozel reached on a fielding error. Kylor followed with a ground ball that erased Boozel at second, but the throw to first was errant, which allowed the Trojan to score from third for a 7-5 lead.
The Bisons had a bit of life left in them in the seventh. With two outs, Black singled off the glove of the Mount Union shortstop, and Austin Montgomery grounded a ball to second. However, the throw got by the first baseman to put runners on second and third.
Boozel took care of matters himself by getting a strikeout, his seventh in three and a third innings, to secure the win for Mount Union.
"Bedford can hit," Imperioli said. "They are a good offensive team, and they have scored a lot of runs this year. You always want to get ahead in the playoffs. It takes pressure off the team that is leading and puts it on the team trying to catch up.
"Our offense came out swinging. We got that lead early. We had some guys come up big."
Imperioli was even chuckling about the bottom of the seventh.
"This team can never have an easy inning," he said. "I knew it couldn't be that simple. We have lost five games in the sixth or seventh innings. Cole had the good stuff when we needed it."
Waugerman was impressed with the Mount Union pitchers.
"(Mount Union's) pitchers deserve a lot of credit," he said. "Boozel had some big pitches for them, and he got the big strikeout at the end."
Mount Union (19-5) will move on the state quarterfinals on Thursday against District 7 champion Beaver at a site and time to be determined.
Notes: Brown had three hits for Mount Union, while Walker and Goodling each had two. ... Campbell had two hits and four RBIs for Bedford. ... The fifth through ninth batters in the Bedford line-up were 1-for-14 with nine strikeouts. ... Bedford was 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, while Mount Union was 5-for-13.