Tuesday's showdown between league foes Williamsport and Altoona featured two teams headed in two very different directions.
After a streaky start to the season, Williamsport has apparently found its mojo, thanks to key wins against Jersey Shore and St. Mary's. Altoona, which entered the contest sporting a three-game losing streak, has struggled after winning three of its first four games.
And those struggles became even more apparent as a surging Williamsport squad exploded for four runs in the fourth en route to a 6-1 win over Altoona at Logue Field.
Sam Bubb of Williamsport fields a throw as Altoona’s Jaret Berardinelli steals second base in the third inning Tuesday at Logue Field. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"We've been sitting back, getting out feet down and stroking the ball," Williamsport first baseman Steven Moon said. "That's basically all there is to it."
The Millionaires' early-season concerns might have finally started to drift away. The win over Altoona pushed Williamsport's current steak to three. Over the current winning streak, which started with a 6-5 win over rival Jersey Shore, Williamsport has outscored the opposition, 19-7.
Sam Bubb and Moon continued Williamsport's (9-4, 3-2) offensive trends as the two combined to post six hits, score two runs and hit five runners in.
"It shows we're all gelling together at the right time and making the plays," Moon said.
Bubb (3-for-4, 2 runs, RBI) drove in the first run of the fourth inning with his second double of the day into the left field. Owen Lukens then followed with a walk to load the bases. But, as quickly as the bases filled up, Moon (3-for-4, 4 RBI) made sure his teammates weren't standing around for long as he cleared the bases with a three-RBI double over the left fielder's head.
The fourth inning surge was setup when Ian Miller flipped the order with a two-out infield single from the ninth spot in the line-up.
"The at-bat of the game was that No. 9 hitter," Altoona coach Tom Smith said. "It was a one-run game and their guys turned the order to get their big hitters up."
"The offense is huge. Our bats came alive really well today," starting pitcher Davey Ludwikowski said. "That just makes it easier for me to go out and throw strikes. That's all they ask of me. When all the pitchers do that, and the offense responds, we come out with a win."
Altoona (4-7, 1-5) entered Tuesday with obvious offensive problems. The Lions had only posted nine runs in their last three games, all of which were losses.
And the last thing a deficient offense wanted to see was a pitcher nearing his mid-season form.
"I was feeling really good today," Ludwikowski said. "I was really confident in my fastball. Just getting that over for first-pitch strikes was very important. It helped setup my junk pitches."
In five innings of work, Ludwikowski fanned four batters and scattered two hits. His curveball, which was setup by his fastball, kept hitters off balance and helped keep the ball on the ground. Kyle Hoover and Aaron Weber then entered over the sixth and seventh, respectively. Weber fanned the final batter to earn the save.
"It's a great confidence booster," Ludwikowski said. "Errors can win the game for other teams if they get into your head."
Altoona 001 000 0-1 3 0
Williamsport 101 300 x-6 9 1
Shea Stayer, Joel Reighard (4) and Dylan Conrad. Davey Ludwikowski, Kyle Hoover (6), Aaron Weber (7) and Joe Cassidy. W-Ludwikowski. L-Stayer. S-Weber.
Top Altoona hitters: Conrad 2-3, RBI. Top Williamsport hitters: Sam Bubb 3-4, 2 2B, RBI, 2 runs; Owen Lukens 2B, 2 runs; Steven Moon 3-4, 4 RBI.
Records: Altoona 4-7 (1-5). Williamsport 9-4 (3-2).
Next: Altoona at Bishop Guilfoyle, Friday, 7 p.m. Williamsport at DuBois, Saturday, 12 p.m.