Brandon Weyant stood in the box staring down a 2-2 count and hit the next straight into left field. Pine Forge's Mike Murphy put his glove down to scoop up the fast roller toward him, but ended up chasing it down from behind as it sped towards the fence thanks to an error.
While it only resulted in a single hit, what mattered the most was that Altoona's Luke Stultz and Thad Campbell -each who had safely reached on singles in the two at-bats prior - scored and swung the momentum back after Pine Forge had took a one-run lead just the at-bat beforehand.
Altoona kept its foot on the gas and cruised to a 12-7 win in the 13-15-year-old Babe Ruth Pennsylvania state tournament over Pine Forge on Monday at Logue Field, ensuring itself a spot in the 6-team tournament after pool play concludes tonight.
The loss dropped Pine Forge to 0-3, and all but eliminated them from the single-elimination tournament.
Altoona is no stranger to facing a deficit right out of the starting gates. In its past three games in the pool play tournament, Altoona's started the game off down 3-0 each time. So when Pine Forge took a 3-0 lead in the first inning after batting through its lineup, Altoona remained calm, knowing it had to battle back like its done before to get a win.
"Seems like every game we spot the other team three runs, so our kids didn't get all caught up in it," Altoona manager Denny Martin said. "We're a hard-hitting team, so we knew we were going to score runs. Once we settled down a bit and started scoring runs, everything took care of itself."
Weyant's two RBI single in the fifth inning was followed up with a sacrifice hit by Joel Reighard to knock in a run, an RBI double into left from Trentin Martin and Tanner Snyder's RBI single that dropped into center field. By the time the inning ended, Pine Forge was staring down a 5-run deficit after reclaiming a lead in the top of the inning.
What helped spark that comeback in the fifth was Altoona's bats. Altoona collected 12 of its 13 hits between the third and sixth innings, including five in the fifth and four in the fourth.
"That's been our team all playoffs and through districts and everything. Doesn't seem like our bats start until the third, fourth inning, but then when they start, they don't stop until the end usually," Martin said.
Altoona went through the lineup in both the fourth and fifth innings and had a total of eight RBIs through them. All but two players reached on base safely during those two innings as well.
After trailing 4-2, Altoona made it a 6-4 game in the fourth. That's when Pine Forge had a brief rally.
Pine Forge batted around the lineup in the fifth inning too, scoring three runs and retaking the lead from Altoona, 6-5. Pine Forge took advantage of an Altoona error when catcher Austin Pope attempted a pickoff, only to see the second baseman fail to field it, resulting it in rolling into center field and letting Danny Dinsmore score to take the brief lead.
In the end, Pine Forge's pitching staff couldn't keep Altoona's bats quiet, giving up a hit in all but the second inning, and Pine Forge and Altoona each committed five errors.
"They had a lot of hits," Pine Forge manager Sean Kooker said. "I thought our arms were good, (but) fielding, I don't know when the last time I saw our infield have that many errors. That takes the wind right out of your sails."
Pine Forge was able to hit Altoona's pitcher six times, with two each coming in the first, fourth and fifth innings, however none were more than one base hits.
The win gives Altoona some breathing room at 3-1 in the pool play standings and just have to wait to see who makes it into the tournament after tomorrow's final games.
"Every team here's here to win, so every game's tough, just got to play our game," Martin said.
Altoona 12, Pine Forge 7
Pine Forge300 130 0-7 6 5
Altoona101 451 x-12 13 5
Joel Reighard, Josh Begol (4), Trentin Martin (5) and Austin Pope, Nick Lytle (7). Joey Stankovies, Nick O'Donnell (4), Brandon Campbell (6) and Brandon Campbell. WP-Martin. LP-O'Donnell.
Top Pine Forge hitters: Austin Kooker 1-2, run; Mike Murphy 2-3, run; Brandon Campbell 1-3, run; Nick O'Donnell 1-4, RBI, run; Danny Dinsmore 2 RBIs; Colby David 1-2, RBI. Top Altoona hitters: Joel Reighard 2B, 2 RBIs, run; Trentin Martin 3-4, 2B, 2 RBIs, run; Tanner Snyder 1-3, 2 RBIs; Austin Pope 1-3, run; Thad Campbell 2-4, 3 runs; Luke Stultz 3-4, 2B, 2 RBIs, 3 runs; Brandon Weyant 1-3, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Dylan Adams 1-2, run.
Records: Altoona 3-1, Pine Forge 0-3.
Mifflin County 11, Bensalem 10, 8 innings
Bensalem000 703 00-10 7 4
Mifflin Co.100 600 31-11 16 4
Bob Romano, Luke Duris (5), Brandon Wermuth (8) and Joe Wnuk. Ross Torquato, Lucas McKay (4) and Matt Lutz. WP-McKay. LP-Wermuth.
Top Bensalem hitters: Tim Breman 2B, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Bob Romano 2-3, run; Joe Wnuk 2-4, RBI. Top Mifflin County hitters: Carter Spade 3-5; Lucas McKay 4-5, 2 2Bs; Drew Hannon 3-5, 2B, RBI; Hunter Shuff 2-5, 2B, 2 RBIs; Matt Lutz 2B, RBI; Hunter Walker 1-3, 2 RBIs, run.
Records Mifflin County 3-1, Bensalem 0-3
Media 6, Wayne County 5
Wayne Co.100 021 1-5 8 4
Media100 300 2-6 7 4
Pat Pierce and Ben Corbin. Tyler Peel, Ron DiMatteo (6) and Billy McCarthy. WP-DiMatteo. LP-Pierce.
Top Wayne County hitters: Noah Box 2-4; Pat Pierce 2B, RBI, run; Ben Corbin 2-3; Sully Rutledge 2B. Top Media hitters: Nate Sides 2-4, 2 runs; Ron DiMatteo 1B, RBI; Anthony Dorio 2 RBIs; Billy McCarthy 1-3, RBI, run; Tyler Peel 1-3, RBI.
Records: Media 3-0, Wayne County 0-4