Loyalsock nips Beaver, 5-4, for Class AA baseball title

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For a brief moment, it looked as if Beaver had escaped.

One out from elimination, the Bobcats got an RBI single that tied the score and gave them some momentum.

For good measure, the song "Stayin' Alive" played on the Lubrano Park loudspeakers as the team looked to send the game to extra innings.

But just as quickly as Beaver extended its season, it ended.

Bailey Young drove a single to right in the bottom of the seventh to bring home Robbie Kline and give Loyalsock Township a walkoff, 5-4 victory against Beaver in the PIAA Class AA baseball championship Friday.

Making their first appearance in the PIAA championship game since 1983, the Bobcats (20-4) were not able to add another achievement to a benchmark season.

"Our kids knew they were good enough to make it this far," said Beaver assistant coach Jeff Mullen, who coached the team for much of the season while head coach Bruce Herstine recovered from surgery.

"It was just a crushing blow when you lose such a tight game like that.

"Sometimes, it's easier to lose a game where you get blown out. But, in a game that close, to lose on a last-second play, it's just killer to everything.

"It drops everything in your body."

In what turned out to be a back-and-forth game, Beaver trailed, 4-3, entering the final inning.

After shortstop Austin Logan's leadoff walk, Loyalsock (22-3) recorded consecutive outs to get within an out of the title.

But Nick Hineman, who finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs, laced a single up the middle to score Logan.

But Beaver got into a jam in the last of the seventh when Austin Ross hit Kline with a pitch to start the inning and third batter Tommy Baggett drew a walk.

This time, there was no escape as Young's RBI single ended the game.

Herstine had a simple explanation for the loss.

"Three errors, three hit batsmen, three or four walks -- that tells the game right there," he said.

The win gives Loyalsock its second title in the past six years, a history which coach Jeremy Eck used as a source of inspiration.

Before the team departed for the Penn State campus, Eck gathered his team in the school's gym, where he told them to remain quiet and look at the championship banners draped on the walls.

"I just said, 'Hey guys, this is it -- there's no more practicing, there's no more talking about it. There's only one way to be remembered, and that's to get up on that wall because it will never go away,' " Eck said.

"For them to come out and execute and get that done is huge."

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Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG


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