Mount Union senior left hander Seth Smith tossed a near perfect game, the defense behind him was flawless and the offense pounded out 14 hits. The result was a 9-0 victory over Southern Huntingdon for the Inter-County Conference championship.
Smith went the distance for his first no-hitter. He struck out 11 and walked none. The only blemish on his performance was hitting the Rockets Josh Fleck with a pitch in the top of the fourth inning.
“This was a great game,” said Trojan coach Tim Hicks. “I can’t say enough about Seth’s performance. The plan was to bring Dylan Gearhart in to pitch late in the game to get some work before our first playoff game Monday. With Seth throwing a no-hitter, we just couldn’t do that.
“Seth was hitting his spots and mixing up his pitches. He kept Southern’s hitters off balance the whole game.”
The Trojans (18-3), who lost 1-0 at Southern Huntingdon May 6, opened with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Grayson McClain led it off with a walk and stole second. He moved to third when Matt Harshbarger singled to left. Dylan Gearhart was hit by a pitch to lead the bases, then Quinton Posey lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score McClain. Harshbarger scored on a two-out single up the middle by Ethan Carbaugh.
Mount Union took command of the game with five runs in the fourth.
With one out, Quinnten Fultz and Klayton Willoughby singled. McClain singled to bring home Fultz, then got into a run down trying to stretch his way to second. He was able to get back to first safely and Willoughby scored the second run.
After Harshbarger grounded into a fielder’s choice to erase McClain, Gearhart drew a walk. A single by Posey brought Harshbarger home before a walk to Kobe Hand off reliever J.T. Knepper loaded the bases. Carbaugh followed with a single to left that plated a pair of runs and pressed the Trojan advantage to 7-0.
The final two runs came in the bottom of the sixth. With two out, Mount Union got consecutive singles from Carbaugh, Smith, Fultz and Willoughby. The last two drove in the runs.
“We got a couple runs early and kept putting the pressure on them,” Hicks continued. “We hit the ball hard all day. It was a good way to get into playoff mode.”
Austin Dell got the start for the Rockets and lasted three and two-thirds innings. He struck out one, walked three and allowed eight hits and seven runs in suffering the loss. Knepper pitched the last two and one-third innings. He struck out three, walked two and gave up six hits and two runs.
“We had no pep and just didn’t compete today,” said Southern coach Rob Smith. “We looked at a lot of fastball strikes and that changed our approach at the plate. Seth (Smith) did a great job today. We didn’t play badly today, but we weren’t aggressive.”
Both teams will be back in action Monday, beginning their District Six playoff journeys. The Rockets (16-4), the second seed in Class 2A, will play host to Bellwood-Antis, while the fourth-seeded Trojans will entertain Ligonier Valley in a Class 3A quarterfinal.