Title Chase Ends
Minersville halted Wyalusing Valley’s march through the post-season with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory in a PIAA Class A semifinal game at Bloomsburg University on June 13.
Wyalusing, which entered the game on a six-game winning streak, including five consecutive shutouts through the District Four and PIAA tournaments, jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Battlin’ Miners through the first two innings.
Brianna Jennings opened the scoring in the first inning with an opposite field home run. Her two-out blast to right field cleared the fence near the 210-foot mark at Jan Hutchinson Field.
In the second inning, Arielle Kneller led off and reached on an error.
After stealing second, Kneller eventually scored on Ciera Holland’s two-out RBI single up the middle. Holland was thrown out trying to take second base on the throw to the plate.
From that point, Minersville’s Laykin Hughes shut down Wyalusing, holding the Lady Rams to just one hit, an infield single by Bobbi Jo Loyack with two out in the top of the sixth inning.
Jennings walked after Loyack’s hit, but the Lady Rams were retired on a groundout to shortstop, ending Wyalusing’s last best offensive opportunity.
“We hit the ball well early,” Wyalusing head coach John Loomis said. “We made some nice plays early on.”
Hughes, who did an excellent job keeping Wyalusing’s batters off balance by changing location and speed, finished the game with nine strikeouts, while walking just one batter and giving up three hits.
Minersville, after being held to just one hit—Sarah Walasavage’s leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning—began to get its timing at the plate down against Jennings in the fifth inning.
Reighly Melochick led off the inning with a double to the left-center field gap that just eluded the glove of Lauren Chadwick, a defensive replacement in left field.
With one out, Sonia Bernetskie looped a foul ball down the right-field line that Caitlyn Doerner grabbed with a diving effort.
Melochick tagged and, running aggressively, rounded third base, drawing an errant relay throw that allowed her to score easily, cutting Wyalusing’s lead to 2-1.
Morgen Woodford then singled to left.
She scored on Jenna Strubhar’s line-drive double to left, tying the game.
In the sixth inning, Breanne Bentz blasted a triple to right field with one out for Minersville.
Hughes followed with the game-winning RBI, a single to right. She was thrown out when the Lady Rams caught her in a rundown between first and second.
“To their credit, they started hitting the ball,” Loomis said. “The ball found the gaps.
“Their pitcher did a great job. Their players came up with big hits.
“Our kids knew they had to play seven innings.”
Minersville had a couple of opportunities to score early in the game, but Jennings and the Wyalusing defense came up big as they did many times during the team’s streak of 37 scoreless innings during the playoff run.
Walasavage’s first-inning triple was wasted when Doerner gathered in Bentz’s one-out flyball. Doerner threw a strike to catcher Gabby Edsell at home where she tagged out Walasavage.
In the second inning, Hughes was hit by a pitch to open the frame.
Courtesy runner Alyse Ryan took second on a one-out groundout and later stole third. Jennings closed out the inning with one of her three strikeouts.
Jennings gave up six hits without a walk in the loss.
Loomis, who had just guided his team the deepest into the playoffs of any Lady Ram squad, was gracious toward the winners afterward.
“They were the better team today,” he said. “This is a good team, I’m sure they will have a good shot in the finals.”
Minersville, seeking its eighth PIAA championship, will face Clarion, a 3-2 winner over Chartiers Houston, in Friday’s Class A title game at Penn State.
Loomis saluted his team, which forged a 20-4 record this season and claimed a District Four, Class A championship, for its efforts during the game and all season.
“It was a tough game,” he said. “It was a great game.
“Our kids played hard all year, but things didn’t go well down the stretch today.”