Crusaders defend 9-A crown, beat Falcons, 4-2

BRADFORD – The Elk County Catholic Crusader baseball team successfully defended their District 9 Class A championship Thursday by defeating the Coudersport Falcons by a 4-2 score in a game played at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.All the runs scored in the game came in the fourth inning as ECC scored four in the top half of the inning and the Falcons scored two in the home half of the inning.“That was another great high school baseball game,” said ECCHS coach Father Eric Vogt. “All the runs came in one inning.”“We played good defense and Ben (Daghir) pitched a heckuva of a game,” he added.Daghir went the distance on the mound for the Crusaders, giving up five hits, walking two and striking out 10. Tim McCusker started on the mound for Coudersport and worked 3 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and striking out two. Nick Jolley worked 3 2/3 innings, giving up three hits and walking one.“Coudersport is a well-coached team. We wish them luck in the playoffs,” Vogt said.“This is our second title in a row. Now the younger kids have something to shoot for. States start Monday. A new season. We have to go out and have fun. It’s a lot of fun now. Now we have to keep the season going.”The Crusaders had nine hits in the contest, led by Ben Daghir’s triple and single. Kyle Schneider had two singles and Jake Cortina doubled. Ricky Pearsall, Brock McCullough, Joe McLaughlin and Pat Brennen all singled.The Crusaders only sent three batters to the plate in the top of the first inning. Coudersport went down in order in the home half of the inning.Elk went down in order in the second inning. Brian Kane led off the home half of the inning with a double. However, he was picked off as catcher Luke Daghir connected with shortstop Ricky Pearsall to get Kane leaning at second. A strikeout and ground out followed.The Crusaders left two runners in the top of the third while the Falcons went down in order.With one out in the top of the fourth, Ben Daghir led off with a triple. A single by McCullough scored Daghir. Cortina doubled, scoring McCullough. McLaughlin singled, scoring Cortina, and wound up at second on an error. A single by Brennen scored McLaughlin, giving Elk the 4-0 lead. Coudersport responded with two runs in the home half of the inning on a walk, a single, a double and a sacrifice fly, cutting Elk’s lead to 4-2.Elk Catholic left two runners on base in the top of the fifth while Coudersport stranded one.With two outs in the top of the sixth, Pearsall reached second on an error but was left stranded. The Falcons left a runner on base in the home half of the inning.The Crusaders threatened in the top of the seventh, but a double play ended their threat. Mike Miller singled for Coudersport to open the home half of the seventh inning. The next batter flew out, then Daghir struck out the next two as the Crusaders won the District 9-A title.Elk Catholic will enter the PIAA Class A tournament on Monday with an 18-3 record. The Crusaders will meet Serra Catholic at a time and site to be announced. Serra Catholic is the third-place team out of District 7. They defeated California 12-0 in five innings on Wednesday in the District 7 consolation game.ECCHS – 4Ricky Pearsall (ss) 3-0-1, Eric Wehler (cf) 3-0-0, Luke Daghir (c) 3-0-0, Ben Daghir (p) 4-1-2, Brock McCullough (dh) 3-1-1, Sam Schneider (2b) 0-0-0, Jake Cortina (1b) 4-1-1, Joe McLaughlin (lf) 3-1-1, Pat Brennen (3b) 3-0-1, Kyle Schneider (rf) 3-0-2. Totals 29-4-9.Coudersport – 2Kevin Wolfinger (ss) 2-1-0, Pat Valenti (2b) 3-0-0, Tim McCusker (p/ss) 3-1-1, Brian Kane (rf) 2-0-2, Vince Marzo (1b) 3-0-1, Mike Miller (3b) 3-0-1, John Rigas (ss/lf) 3-0-0, Garrett Russell (dh) 3-0-0, Nick Jolley (lf/p) 0-0-0, Caden Whitmore (c) 2-0-0. Totals 24-2-5.Score by innings RECCHS 000 400 0 - 4Coudy 000 200 0 - 2