WILLIAMSPORT — Sayre pitcher James Esposito held hard-hitting South Williamsport to five hits. St. Bonaventure-bound Tripp Breen of South Williamsport, though, was even better in limiting the Redskins to four hits.
In the end, though, it was South’s sixth hit — a clean single to center — that brought in the game’s final run and gave the Mountaineers a 2-1 win over the Redskins in the District IV Class AA championship game Wednesday at Bowman Field.
Both pitchers were dominant over the first two innings, and by the end of the top of the third inning, Breen had seven strikeouts.
For the game, Esposito went 6 1/3 innings and allowed five hits, four walks, and two earned runs with six strikeouts.
“He pitched really well,” said Sayre coach Jamie VanDuzer of Esposito. “We were in the position we wanted to be against a kid who we knew would be very difficult to score runs off of. It’s kind of tough on this end of it, but I’m proud of the way they played.”
The Redskins’ defense was also solid giving up just one error.
“We knew they had four or five hitters in the lineup who hit the ball well,” said VanDuzer. For the most part they didn’t hurt us. Some of the kids we didn’t think were going to (hit well) hit the ball pretty hard.”
One of the latter was South Williamsport’s Ryan Rishcoff. The seventh hitter in the order, Rishcoff opened the bottom of the third with a shot to the wall in center field for a triple. Esposito was able to get a short fly ball out, but Landon Lorson got his fly ball just deep enough for Rishcoff to — barely — slide home safely on the sacrifice fly.
Sayre answered in the top of the fourth. With two out, Quinn Hanafin singled to left. Brayden Horton followed with an RBI a double to right. Horton was tagged out trying to get to third on the play, but the game was tied.
The next six half-innings weren’t exactly a waltz (1-2-3), but nobody advanced past second as the pitchers continued their assaults on each other’s lineups.
That continued even after a 45-minute thunder delay that left the teams enjoying bowling (South), football (Sayre), and track (South) after the weather moved off and before the game could resume. There as even a hand grenade (baseball) tossed from the South team to the Sayre team. Of course, with his teammates scattering, it was Hanafin who plopped on the “grenade” to the cheers of the crowd.
Each team had two singles from the bottom of the fourth through the top of the seventh, and each team had a batter reach on an error. Neither team advanced a batter past second base.
In the top of the seventh, Breen opened with a base hit. Lorson dropped down a nice sacrifice bunt to get Breen to second. Two walks followed, one intentional after a 2-0 count. That ended Esposito’s day and brought up Pete Sinabaldi who ended the game on the second pitch he saw from reliever Hanafin.
Breen gave up four hits and one earned run with 10 strikeouts. Sinabaldi had two singles and an RBI. In addition to Rishcioff, Luke Winner, Hunter Finn and Breen each had a single
In addition to Horton’s RBI double, Hanafin had two singles and Nic Ficarro had one.
“I thought we played well enough to win,” said VanDuzer. “I think if we go another inning we had a real good shot.”
The season is not over for Sayre. The Redskins will play Friday against the winner of a game this morning featuring the runners-up from Districts 6 and 9. Sayre’s game will either be in Altoona or DuBois,depending on which team wins that contest.