MONTGOMERY—Quinn Hannafin mixed pitches well, David Northrup had a two-RBI double, and No. 3 Sayre fought off a second inning rally from No. 5 Bloomsburg to win 8-5 in the semifinals of the District 4 Class AA Baseball Playoffs.
The win will advance Sayre into its third consecutive District Championship where it will face No. 1 South Williamsport. The game is slated for next Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Bowman Field in Williamsport. As for the semifinal, Sayre played a solid game and took advantage of eight walks and three hit batters from the Panthers.
Bloomsburg gave up five runs over the first two innings of the game. Zach Moore and Quinn Hanafin, who entered in the second inning in relief for Sayre, both drew walks and Camden Wheeler singled to load the bases for the Redskins. Brayden Horton and James Esposito both hit runs home with fly balls to the outfield as Sayre took a 2-0 lead.
The offense continued for the Redskins in the second as a single from Jake Burgess and a double from David Northup scored three more runs. Burgess then put together a ten-pitch at bat in the fifth, eventually winning the battle and bringing a run home with a long sacrifice fly to left field.
“It’s huge to get their pitch count up and see that many pitches,” Sayre coach Jamie VanDuzer said. “That’s probably the first thing I’ll do when I get on the bus is check and see the amount of foul balls for us. There were a lot of good at bats.”
Sayre was patient at the plate throughout the game as they benefited from eight walks and three hit batters. In the opening inning, there were two walks as the Redskins scored two runs. In the second, two more walks and a hit batter helped scored runs. The Panthers hit another batter and walked two more in the fourth as Sayre scored three more runs.
“Good at bats and fouling a lot of pitches off, I think, were huge for us,” VanDuzer said. “There were a few players that had at bats with five, six, seven, foul balls with two strikes. That’s huge.”
Sayre worked through three Bloomsburg pitchers as Nathan Martz started but was pulled in the second for Evan Long who made it into the fifth before Blaise Hock came in to finish the game.
In the second inning, after falling behind 5-0, Bloomsburg’s offense started to come to life as Martz and Austin Fisher singled. Jack Malatesta reached on an error at third, and Cooper Thrush drew a six-pitch walk before consecutive singles from Michael Peacock and Long cleared the bases and pulled Bloomsburg to within a run of tying Sayre.
“We didn’t quit and that’s kind of been the message to the team all year,” Davis said. “We’ve had a lot of close games. We’ve had a lot of one-run games that we’ve been in to the very end.”
Bloomsburg came back to score a run in the fifth after Owen Lewis drove a double into left field. Lewis finished with two doubles and later scored in the inning when Hock hit a sacrifice fly to left field.
Burgess’s 10-pitch at bat in the fourth was key as it brought home a run and pushed Sayre’s total to eight as Quinn Hannafin finished the game with a strikeout.
“I was missing my spots the batter before,” Hannafin said. “I grooved two right outside to get two strikes and I just went back to it.”
Hannafin found himself in a little trouble in the seventh when a walk and hit batter put runners on first and second. His catcher came out and gave him a quick pep talk. It appeared to help as Hannafin ended the game with a strikeout.