Crosby scores in the ninth after E-M comeback

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

SMETHPORT – If you haven’t followed the Elk-McKean (E-M) All-Stars the past two seasons you would have counted them out going into the top of the ninth down 5-3 to the Crosby MudHens in exhibition action Friday night at George Murray Field. Throw in the fact the 2019 Big 30 Player of the Year, Port Allegany graduate Howie Stuckey was taking the mound and things looked bleak for the 2018 Junior and 2019 Senior Little League State Champs. Those of us who have followed the players from Ridgway, Johnsonburg, Wilcox, and Kane knew better. A one-out base hit by Carson Whiteman brought Dalton Stahli and Kaden Dennis home making it 5-5. The two had drawn walks off Stuckey, who will pitch at St. Bonaventure next season. A double steal put them in position to come home on Whiteman’s hit. Unfortunately, the MudHens would win for the second time in a week when Alex Ognen came home on a one-out bases-loaded errant throw to the plate from Whiteman who had to twist his body to field the groundball to third to end the game. Disappointing yes, but impressive none the less by the group of seventeen and under players who held their own against Crosby which has several graduates from Smethport, Port Allegany, Otto-Eldred, and Kane on its roster. Last week the Mudhens held on for a 4-1 victory at the beautiful ballyard in Smethport.
Also impressive was the way the E-M climbed back after falling behind 5-0 after two innings. Ethan Wells who had been hit by a pitch to open the fourth scored on a sacrifice, ground-out by Luke Ely. Dalton Stahli scored on a groundout by Whiteman in the fifth, and Camron Marciniak scored in the sixth after he opened the inning with a base hit, stole second, and raced home on an error by Stuckey at short off the bat of Dennis. “It was a good game. We dug ourselves an early hole with a couple of walks. We had a few more walks (7) than we’re used to but I’m really proud of the way the kids bounced back. They put their ace (Stuckey) on the mound in the ninth. Our kids were down two runs and came back to take it into the bottom of the ninth. There were a lot of good things tonight,” said Mike Porter who was in charge Friday. Manager Casey Zimmerman was out of town.
Andrew Sheeler started on the hill for the MudHens. He pitched five innings and gave up two unearned runs with a strikeout and a hit batsman. Ognen pitched three innings, gave up two hits, struck out four, walked one, and gave up an unearned run. Stuckey gave up the two runs in the ninth on two hits while striking out one and walking two. Aiden Zimmerman, who had been out with an injury preventing him from playing last week, opened on the mound for E-M. Crosby scored two runs in the first. Jake Alcorn and Sheeler came home on a one-out, bases-loaded single by Andy Jekielek. Zimmerman walked three in the inning and had a strikeout. A hit batsman and a walk to open the second led to Whiteman entering the game. He struck out Alcorn but an Ognen double brought Kam Rounsville and Tristen Dennis home. Ognen scored on a two-out base hit by Stuckey making it 5-0. Marciniak ended the inning with a great catch in center field. Whiteman was flawless in the third and fourth innings retiring six in a row with four strikeouts. Marciniak held the MudHens scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings. After an inning opening walk in the bottom of the eighth Domenic Allegretto struck out three in a row. He was forced to walk two in the ninth after Ognen opened the inning with a base hit and somehow beat a rundown between first and second. Assistant Josh Mitchell went on the field to get an explanation from the base umpire. It appeared that Ognen may have been out of the baseline while avoiding a tag by Dennis. He went to third on a sacrifice by Sheeler which led to the two walks and the game-ending shot to third by Bobby Rumcik.
Harley Morris, Curtis Barner, Whiteman, who had three RBI, Marciniak, and Allegretto had the hits for E-M. Ognen and Jekieleck had two hits and drove in two runs each for the Hens. Sheeler and Stuckey also hit safely.
On the defensive side, Alcorn made a diving, two-out catch in the fourth preventing Caden Smiley from scoring from third. Stuckey had the play of the game in the top of the seventh after Marciniak scored. With Dennis on second and Whiteman on first, Morris hit a liner that the Crosby shortstop dove to snag and threw to get Dennis trying to get back to second. “Jake had a great play and that was a huge play by Howie. That was game-changing. The momentum had swung and they were starting to rally and get their confidence going. He showed great range and then threw him out at second off his knees,” said Crosby coach Brandon Ruffner.
Porter who had his high school varsity managing debut season at the helm of Johnsonburg canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge smile on his face when asked how good it feels to have the kids on the diamond. “I’m really happy baseball is going on and I’m really happy to see our kids show up and compete again. That’s what we expect out of these guys. It’s the ninth inning you're down by two and a lot of teams would see that kid come out on the mound throwing in the high to mid-80s and would fade. Our kids don’t. They stand up and come after you. It’s good to have the adrenaline running again.”
Ruffner concurred. “You could see the excitement in the players and fans. You’d think this was some type of championship game. I still got goosebumps. It’s great for all these kids that got robbed out of the little league, high school, and all that. This is a great experience”
Elk-McKean will be traveling to Ohio this week to compete at an 18-and-under All-American Showcase tournament. Porter is excited about the event which runs Thursday through Sunday. The tourney consists of a five-game, round-robin preliminary round followed by the championship round. “It’s going to be kind of similar to what we’re playing here. We’re going to be up against some 18-and-under teams. We’re a little bit young but we’re not intimidated by anybody. It’s going to be fun."
Ruffner is happy to have helped prepare the team for tourney action with the two exhibition games. “For them to play against the Howie’s and the Sheeler’s who are stud baseball players when they get down to their level, it’s going to be a walk in the park for them.” Elk-McKean will play a Core Athletic team in Pittsburgh on July 3.

Crosby 6 Elk-McKean 5

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

E-M 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 2 5 5 2

Crosby 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 7 2

Individual AB-H-R-RBI

E-M: Harley Morris 5-1-0-0, Ethan Wells 3-0-1-0, Reese Novosel 2-0-0-0, Caden Smiley 2-0-0-0, Luke Ely 1-0-0-1, Curtis Barner 2-1-0-0, Dalton Stahli 3-0-2-0, Kaden Dennis 3-0-1-0, Carson Whiteman 3-1-0-3, Camron Marciniak 2-1-1-0, Domenic Allegretto 2-1-0-0, Luke Zimmerman 2-0-0-0, Collin Porter 2-0-0-0, T 32-5-5-4.

Crosby: Jake Alcorn 2-0-1-0, Alex Ognen 5-2-2-2, Andrew Sheeler 4 1-1-1, Howie Stuckey 2-1-0-1, Andy Jekielek 4-2-0-2, Bobby Rumcik 5-0-0-0, Grant Ognen 3-0-0-0, Kam Rounsville 2-1-1-0, Tristen Dennis 2-0-1-0, T 29-6-6-5.

2B - E-M 0, Crosby 1 (A. Ognen); Sac - E-M 1 (Ely), Crosby 1 (Sheeler); BB – E-M 3 - Barner, Dennis, Whiteman, Crosby – 7 Alcorn, Stuckely 2, Jekielek; HBP – E-M – 1- Wells, Crosby 1- Rounsville; SB – E-M – 4 - Stahli 2, Marciniak, Dennis, Crosby 3 – Stuckey, Jekielek, Rounsville.

Pitching IP-H-R-ER-SO-BB-HB

E-M: Aiden Zimmerman 1-1-4-4-1-3-1, Carson Whiteman 3-1-1-1-5-0-0, Camron Marciniak 3-2-0-0-0-1, Domenic Allegretto 1.1-1-1-0-3-3.

Crosby: Andrew Sheeler 5-2-2-0-1-0-1, Alex Ognen 3-2-1-0-4-1-0, Howie Stuckey 1-1-2-2-1-2-0.

WP – Stuckey, LP - Allegretto