PIAA Baseball: Patriots fall in AAAA quarterfinals to Conestoga
PIONEERS 10, PATRIOTS 6
Conestoga 000 103 6 — 10 12 3
Red Land 000 041 1 — 6 4 2
CONESTOGA (ab-r-h-rbi) — Austin Shirley, CF, 4-1-1-0, Ryne Ogren, 2B, 5-3-4-1, Tom Richter, SS, 4-2-2-1, Andrew Born, RF, 4-2-2-2, Andrew Turner, C, 4-0-0-0, Sam Regan, CR, 0-1-0-0, Max Dolente, 1B, 4-0-0-1, Brendon Ruffenach, 3B, 4-0-1-2, Andrew Smith, DH, 3-1-1-1, Brendon Little, P, 0-0-0-0, Kyle Stefanic, P, 0-0-0-0, Austin Guyer, P, 0-0-0-0, Alec Gagne, LF, 4-0-1-0. Totals: 36-10-12-8.
RED LAND — Ben Snyder, C, 2-1-1-1, Dalton Clouser, SS, 3-1-0-0, Noah Keister, PH, 1-0-0-0, Zach Newmyer, 1B, 2-0-0-0, Jake Rollman, PR, 0-1-0-0, Eric Dressler, LF, 3-1-1-1, Jeremy Hileman, P, 3-0-0-1, Chad Klinedinst, CR, 0-0-0-0, Josh Snyder, RF/P, 2-0-0-1, Rey Colon, 3B, 4-0-1-0, Tyler Hodges, DH, 2-0-0-0, Nate Chapman, 2B, 0-0-0-0, Shawn Robinson, PH, 2-0-0-0, Matt Shope, CF, 3-2-1-0. Totals: 27-6-4-4.
3B — Conestoga, Austin Shirley, Andrew Born. 2B — Conestoga, Tom Richter.
Conestoga pitching: Brendon Little 4.1 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned, 5 BB, 4 SO; Kyle Stefanic 0 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned, 2 BB, 0 SO; Austin Guyer (W) 2.2 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned, 3 BB, 1 SO. Red Land pitching: Jeremy Hileman (L) 6 IP, 10 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned, 1 BB, 3 SO; Josh Snyder 1 IP, 3 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned, 1 BB, 0 SO.
LAURELDALE — On paper, the game looked like the quintessential pitcher’s duel, with whichever team that could get a few timely hits the likely winner.
But Red Land’s battle with District 1 representative Conestoga in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal at Muhlenberg High School didn’t play out on paper. The Patriots had right-handed ace Jeremy Hileman going against North Carolina commit, and junior, Brendon Little. When all was said and done, the two had given up nine combined earned runs on 14 hits in the Pioneers’ 10-6 win.
Little was the first to bow out. The southpaw lasted 4 1-3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, but his biggest trouble came with command, as he walked five.
“We’re really strict on pitch count,” Conestoga coach John Vogan said. “And he was near his limit (with 103 pitches).”
“That’s a good team, that’s a real good team,” Patriots coach Nate Ebbert said. “I was just wondering how we were gonna get two runs off of them.”
Hileman (8-4, 1.71 ERA) lasted into the seventh, but seemed to tire late, allowing three runs in the sixth and a leadoff triple and RBI single to start the seventh before exiting. He finished the season with 77 2-3 innings pitched.
“We asked (Zach Newmyer and Hileman) to do a lot this year,” Ebbert said. “Jeremy got through five and just started looking a little tired, I think.”
But Hileman came off the rubber with the score still tied. With Newmyer unavailable, Ebbert turned to freshman Josh Snyder, who had logged just two innings all season, his last appearance coming a month ago against Central Dauphin. Snyder did what he could to stifle the bleeding, but the Pioneers bats were clicking, and he surrendered four runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batsman to make it 10-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
“I think it was just good at-bats carrying into the next one,” Pioneers second baseman Ryne Ogren said of his team’s nine runs in the final two innings.
“We had to put a freshman in in a very tough spot,” Red Land catcher Ben Snyder said. “He’s thrown (three innings) all year, and we stick him in there in the state quarterfinals with the game on the line.”
Conestoga started things off in the fourth, when Ogren singled — one of his four on a 4-for-5 day with three runs and an RBI — to start the frame. He came around to score three batters later on a throwing error by Rey Colon.
The Patriots responded an inning later, starting a one-out rally that began with Shope’s single up the middle. The next six batters reached base safely, on four walks and two more singles, to make it 4-1.
But the run ended suddenly when Colon grounded back to the mound. Austin Guyer, just in to relieve Kyle Stefanic after two batters faced in relief, threw Eric Dressler out at home. Then catcher Andrew Turner fired to first and plunked Colon in the back, seemingly scoring Hileman. But the first-base official called Colon out for interference for being outside the runner’s lane. The controversial call halted what could’ve been an even bigger inning for Red Land.
“I didn’t think it was (interference),” Ebbert said. “The home plate umpire didn’t have (the same call), that’s the bad thing about it.
“That would’ve been at least one more run… But it happens.”
It may have made a difference. The Patriots faced a 10-5 deficit with three outs to go and got an unearned run off Guyer, but Matt Shope flied out to left with two on to close out the game, ending the season in wild fashion.
“No one thought this was possible,” Snyder said. “For me, it was just proving everyone wrong, one last shot as a senior. I really enjoyed it with those guys.”
“It’s tough to face those guys, the way they played all year,” Ebbert said, fighting back tears. “It’s a (heckuva) run.”