SELINSGROVE - Camden Richard pitched five superb innings and contributed two hits at the plate, leading the Snyder County 9- and 10-year old Little League all-stars to a 5-3 triumph over Juniata County in a District 13 elimination game Sunday afternoon at East Snyder Sports Park in Selinsgrove.
Richard's pinpoint control on the hill and his hot bat, which knocked in a key run with an RBI double, were instrumental in moving Snyder County on to the next round of the consolation bracket. He stymied the Juniata offense all afternoon, allowing just four hits and striking out seven in five innings of work. He also issued just one walk and limited the visitors' scoring opportunities.
"He did a great job pitching today," Snyder County manager Joe Stahl said. "He did a phenomenal job. He was able to get us through five or so innings, that was great. We couldn't have asked for more from him."
Richard didn't receive much help from his defense early on. Evan Clouser, Juniata's second batter of the game, reached on an error and came around to score after two more blunders prevented Richard from throwing a scoreless top of the first inning. Snyder County responded in the bottom half when Juniata committed some errors of its own. Julian Krainak reached on an error and Nolan Stahl walked. However, two errors allowed Krainak to cross home plate and Stahl would score on a wild pitch by Juniata starter Dawson Harper.
"We had a couple errors there that ended up costing us a few runs early, and that never helps, but that's baseball for you," Juniata manager Casey Harper said.
Juniata knotted the score in the third when pinch-hitter Dontae Martin laced a two-out single and advanced on a wild pitch. Waylon Rowles then singled to bring him home.
Dawson Harper was sharp in the first and second innings, but Snyder County managed to get to the right-hander in the third. With runners on first and third with one out, clean-up hitter Griffin Paige smacked an RBI single, but Jesse Herman was thrown out trying to advance from first to third on the play. Richard then stepped to the plate and delivered his big hit, an RBI double into the right-center field gap that brought Paige home. Jason Kratzer followed by scalding a liner down the left field line and into the corner that easily scored Richard. Evan Clouser took over on the mound after Harper walked Matthew Weimer and immediately made an impact by fanning Preston Arbogast.
Snyder County could do nothing offensively the rest of the game. Clouser was outstanding, striking out six of the eight Snyder County batters he faced while walking none and only allowing one hit, a harmless single in the fifth.
Unfortunately for Juniata, its offense couldn't get much going, either. Joshua Bomberger scored on a passed ball in the fourth, but the team couldn't put anything else together until the sixth. Richard left the game after Seth Landis singled because of the 75-pitch limit that forces pitchers to exit the game at the 9- and 10-year old level. Reliever Isaac Knepp struck Bomberger out, bringing Austin Stonestreet to the plate with Landis on second after advancing on a passed ball. Stonestreet did what any coach would love in that situation by lining a shot to deep center field. Unfortunately, the ball was hit directly at center fielder Nathan Hartman, who quickly threw to second and doubled off Landis to end the contest and Juniata's postseason run.
The win was Snyder County's second in less than 24 hours - the team beat Lewisburg Saturday evening to set up the showdown between the two local clubs.
"I'm just really pleased with these guys," Joe Stahl said. "I mean, we're playing non-stop now, back-to-back games, and they're staying in it the whole time. Playing every day, you have to utilize your pitching and we have enough guys on the bench who can pitch for us. Our pitchers have been phenomenal for us this whole tournament so far. I'm just exceptionally pleased with the whole team."
It was a contest that could've gone either way, as Juniata's bad break in the final inning showed, and a tough one to swallow for a team that just couldn't seem to come up with the big hit when it needed it the most.
"There were some errors and some hard hit balls that didn't get through, but it is what it is. It's just baseball," Casey Harper said. "It was an extremely great bunch of kids, they always picked each other up when someone was down. It was a great group of kids to coach."
Snyder County is back in action today against Danville.