Elk-McKean All-Stars hang tough with Crosby

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

SMETHPORT – While it was only an exhibition game, the atmosphere at George Murray Field Saturday night had the feel of a Major League Baseball opener. The Elk-McKean (E-M) All-Stars took to the field for the first time in 325 days to the delight of their many fans who made the trip to Smethport where they saw the young team hold their own against the Crosby Mudhens – a team that included several graduates from Smethport, Port Allegany, Kane, and Otto Eldred High Schools. Crosby won the game, 4-1, but more importantly, baseball was back. The E/M team, which advanced to the Junior Little League World Series in 2018 and were a game away from going to last year’s Senior Little League World Series, was reunited and happy to be so. The smiles on the faces of the players, Manager Casey Zimmerman and assistants Mike Porter and Tony Allegretto, and the fans couldn’t have been broader. The game was a warm-up for the team made up athletes from Johnsonburg, Ridgway, Wilcox, and Kane who will be competing in upcoming tournaments in Ohio and will be playing a game in Pittsburgh.
2019 Big 30 Baseball Player of the Year, Howie Stuckey of Port Allegany opened on the mound for the Mudhens. He will be continuing his career at St. Bonaventure University in the fall. While he struck out six in his two innings E-M worked him for five walks and a hit batsman forcing him to throw 58 pitches. Chase Sabastian pitched the final six innings.
Carson Whiteman opened on the hill for Elk/McKean and dominated the six Crosby batters he faced – striking out five in a row. Luke Zimmerman, Harley Morris, Collin Porter, and Camron Marciniak also took to the mound. The five pitchers gave up just one hit and three of the four Mudhen runs were unearned. Zimmerman recorded a strikeout and a walk and gave up the hit in the fourth, Morris struck out three and walked three in his two innings, Porter had two strikeouts and a walk in the seventh inning, and Marciniak had a strikeout and finished things with a perfect bottom of the eighth.
Elk-McKean shortstop Dalton Stahli went three-for-four with a double and also had a sacrifice bunt. Catcher Ethan Wells went two-for-three with a double, drew two walks, and scored his team’s run in the ninth. Second baseman Kaden Dennis and outfielder Caden Smiley also hit safely. Smiley earned an RBI when hit by a pitch. Sabastian also clipped first baseman Domenic Allegretto who had been beaned by Stuckey in the second.
Elk-McKean had opportunities to take an early lead but left the bases loaded in the first and second innings. In all 17 ducks were left on the pond. Three again were stranded in the ninth, two in the seventh and eighth, and one in innings three through six. Crosby made the most of two errors. A mishandle at first by Reese Novosel with two outs in the fourth inning allowed Stuckey, who had his team’s only hit, to score. With nobody out a sacrifice fly by Cole Sabastian had scored Alex Ognen for the first run. In the fifth, a fly to center fooled Marciniak and Chase Sabastian and Ognen came home with two outs to make it 4-0. They had reached base on walks by Morris. Elk-McKean battled until the end. Down 4-1 with two outs and the bases loaded Sabastian got Stahli to pop-out to short to end the game.
Overall Zimmerman was pleased with how his young team played against its older opponents. “We take the approach where we can play with anyone. We’re not concerned about people’s age. We just have to take care of things on our side and tonight we let some things go – a couple errors, a couple walks, and we didn’t get a couple of calls that went the other way. It’s a tough game but we learned a lot from this and that’s what we’re looking at. We want to get better,” he said. Two close, pivotal plays at the plate went Crosby’s way. The ump deemed that catcher Bobby Rumcik put the tag on Morris in the sixth with one out and Smiley in the eighth with one out. Both ebbed potential rallies. As for his pitching, the E-M manager was pleased with what he saw. “They got in some tough predicaments and they battled out of it so on the mental toughness side that was a great experience for them. We should just get better from here,” he said. Zimmerman pitched out of trouble in the fourth after the sacrifice. With one out he struck out Rumcik before the error but prevented further damage by getting Nate Hollowell to fly out to end the inning. After the two runs came home in the fifth Morris got out of the inning with two men on with a pop-up of Rumcik and struck out the side in the sixth. Porter struck out two in his inning of work, and Marciniak recorded a strikeout, pop-out, and ground-out in the eighth.
Crosby manager Brandon Ruffner spoke highly of his team’s younger opponents. “They’re solid. They’re a young team with young kids that we knew coming in we couldn’t underestimate them. They have great history together. They have a good squad that’s very well-coached.”
Both managers were happy to get back on the field after the canceling of the high school, Little League, and American Legion Baseball seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was a huge turnout. You couldn’t ask for a better night for baseball,” Ruffner said. “It was the first live sports that people have seen in months and it was good for the community.”
“This is what we’ve been hoping and waiting for. It was a wonderful crowd. It wasn’t raining and we were playing baseball. What more could you ask for?” said Zimmerman. “This is a nice field. I’d play again here in a heartbeat. They have a lot of good players and a lot of kids that I’ve taught in the past. It was a good experience. I’m sure we’ll meet up with these guys again.”
The Elk-McKean boys return to game-action soon. “We’re going to keep practicing. We have a game coming up July 3 against the Core Athletic team from Pittsburgh down there and we have (three) tournaments in Ohio coming up starting June 25,” said Zimmerman. Ruffner too is hoping to be back on the field soon. “Our plan is we’re going to move forward with an independent league. We have a couple of teams that are confirmed to play. We have a couple up in the air right now. Hopefully, we can get that going in the next week or so.” All 13 E-M players dressed saw action. Aiden Zimmerman and Jefferson Freeburg are currently out with injuries.
Box Score

Crosby 4, Elk-McKean 1

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

E-M 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 7 2 17

Crosby 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 X 4 1 0 7

Individual AB-H-R-RBI

E-M: Luke Zimmerman 3-0-0-0, Camron Marciniak 4-0-0-0, Ethan Wells 3-2-1-0, Harley Morris 2-0-0-0, Kaden Dennis 4-1-0-0, Domenic Allegretto 1-0-0-0, Luke Ely 1-0-0-0, Curtis Barner 1-0-0-0, Dalton Stahli 4-3-0-0, Carson Whiteman 3-0-0-0, Caden Smiley 1-1-0-1, Collin Porter 1-0-0-0, Reece Novosel 2-0-0-0, 30-7-1-1.

Crosby: Jake Alcorn 2-0-0-0, Alex Ognen 1-0-2-0, Howie Stuckey 4-1-1-0, Cole Sabastian 2-0-0-1, Bobby Rumcik 4-0-0-0, Branden Higley 3-0-0-0 Nate Hollowell 2-0-0-0, Noah Lent 1-0-0-0, Chase Sabastian 1-0-0-1, Alex Sanderson 1-0-0-0, Travis Cooney 1-0-0-0, 22-1-4-1.

2B: E-M – 2 – Ethan Wells, Dalton Stahli

BB: E-M – 10 – Harley Morris (3), Ethan Wells (2), Kaden Dennis (2), Luke Zimmerman, Luke Ely, Curtis Barner; Crosby – 6 – Alex Ognen (3), Cole Sabastian, Nate Hollowell, Chase Sabastian.

Sac: E-M – 1 - Dalton Stahli, Crosby – 2 - Jake Alcorn, Cole Sabastian.

HBP: E-M – 3 - Domenic Allegretto (2), Caden Smiley.

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

E-M: Carson Whiteman 2-0-0-0-5-0-0, Luke Zimmerman 2-1-2-1-1-2-0, Harley Morris 2-0-2-0-3-3-0, Collin Porter 1-0-0-0-2-1-0, Camron Marciniak 1-0-0-0-1-0-0.

Crosby: Howie Stuckey 2-1-0-0-6-5-1, Chase Sabastian 6-6-1-1-6-5-2