PINE GROVE — The key for any starting lineup is to get on base and score runs, whether that be splitting the gaps, clearing the fence or hitting infield dribblers.
The Hurricanes of Schuylkill Haven reached the bags in Thursday’s PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals by way of a gentle jog 90 feet to first base (base-on-balls). And they did so on 13 occasions.
Behind 13 free passes, five hits and two plunked batters, the ‘Canes jumped out to a seven-run advantage through two innings and never let the pedal down, trouncing Camp Hill 10-2 in the first game of Thursday’s twinbill at Walter Stump Stadium.
“What could go wrong did go wrong and our pitchers are better than they showed,” Camp Hill skipper Mike Acey said.
“Somedays you have it, somedays you don’t,” Lions’ catcher Jackson Thompson said. “That’s baseball. That’s why we love it. It’s unpredictable.”
Dom Tozzi received the starting nod for the Lions and quickly couldn’t find his control, walking two Hurricanes and throwing nine straight balls to open the bottom half of the first. Schuylkill Haven’s Jack Higgins tattooed an RBI single to right before Tozzi let the dust settle and fired back-to-back strikeouts. A costly two-out throwing error on a routine ground ball made it 3-0 Hurricanes.
Come the second inning, Tozzi was tacked for another pair of walks and two singles, which eventually bolstered the Schuylkill Haven lead to seven.
Camp Hill countered with a Thompson double in the right-center gap and an Andrew Spaan RBI two-bagger in the third to stop the bleeding. However, the ‘Canes hopped right back on the hitting train with Higgins contributing his third RBI to the cause in the bottom half and leadoff hitter Michael McGoey lacing an RBI single in the fourth to plate for the 10th run.
The Lions got one back in the sixth inning on a Christian Doi RBI single. He finished the afternoon with a 3-for-3 line at the dish.
By the numbers
The 13 trots to first base obviously plagued the Lions. However, the Camp Hill pitching duo of Tozzi and Doi only scattered five hits. The Lions totaled eight knocks off Quinnipiac commit Mason Ulsh.
Tozzi worked 2 2/3 innings — he re-entered in the fifth inning after leaving through 1 1/3 innings — and was chalked up for seven runs (five earned) and four walks while fanning five. Doi hurled the remaining chunk of 3 1/3 innings, warranting nine free passes. The southpaw wrung up five in the process.
Ulsh’s day ended at 6 1/3 innings. He permitted eight hits on two earned runs and whiffed nine.
The loss caps the Lions campaign at 16-6.
Schuylkill Haven (23-3) advances to Monday’s 2A semifinals where they’ll play District 2 No. 1 seed Riverside after they defeated McConellsburg Thursday 1-0.
They said it
Acey on his Camp Hill team: “I couldn’t be any prouder of the boys.”
Camp Hill’s Luke Parise on facing Ulsh: “I think he was just throwing a lot of off-speed and it was really catching us off guard. But, I think we came back and we started hitting off of him which was good. But sometimes we just got to get that last touch.”
Thompson on the Lions’ hitting Thursday: “We were getting hits, we just weren’t getting timely hits. I believe we could hit any pitcher thrown at us.”
Email Christian Eby at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @eby_sports