The old saying suggests that “good things come to those who wait.”
Scheduled to start its PIAA Class 3A championship game with Notre Dame Green Pond at 4 p.m., the Trojans were forced to wait right away. The game finally started at 7:51 following a couple rain storms.
Once the game finally got going, Mount Union wasted no time in setting the tone, scoring four times in the first and adding four more runs in the second en route to a 9-1 victory over the Crusaders.
But, the nearly four hour wait Thursday was nothing compared to 24 years. That was how long it had been since the Trojans won their last PIAA title. It was their third and came back in 1995.
Mount Union coach Tim Hicks, who played on that 1995 team, was overjoyed at the final result.
“We won a state championship,” he said. “I’m just excited for these guys. They worked hard and spent countless hours practicing during their careers. It’s something that no one came take away from them.”
Despite the quick start for the offense, it was solid pitching that kept the Crusaders at bay. It was Seth Smith’s turn and he didn’t disappoint.
“One of the biggest reasons we won this state championship is because we had two quality starters,” Hicks continued. “Seth gave us that second guy. Tonight, he did what he always does – he threw strikes and let his defense make plays. He kept his curve ball down and that was important. I hit a rough spot at the end, but he kept battling and finished.
“It’s just unreal that he only gave up one hit and eight hits in 14 innings in the state tournament.”
Smith pitched his second complete game of the season and improved to 10-0. He struck out seven, walked four and allowed just four hits. He threw 94 pitches, 28 of those in the bottom of the seventh.
“I was getting a little tired at the end and was over-throwing,” Smith explained. “With the big, I didn’t have to press. I just had to throw and let the defense play its game.”
Grayson McClain singled and Matt Harshbarger walked to start the game. After two outs, things fell apart for the Crusaders. Kobe Hand reached on a fielding error, allowing McClain to score the first run. Ethan Carbaugh followed with a single to right that scored Harshbarger from second. An error on that play allowed the runners to move up to second and third.
Smith helped his own cause, slapping a single through the hole between first and second and brought home both Hand and Carbaugh to make it 4-0.
With two out in the second, the Trojan offense got rolling again. Harshbarger and Dylan Gearhart singled to set the table. Quinton Posey singled in the first runs, then Hand doubled to right to drive in two more, then scored on a single by Carbaugh.
While this was happening, Smith was mowing down the Crusaders. He allowed a single in the second, but immediately picked the runner off first. He faced just 16 batters over the first five innings and allowed only two hits.
Notre Dame GP starter gave way to reliever Patrick Benolken to start the fourth. The Trojans added their final run that inning when Posey tripled to right center and scored on Carbaugh’s third hit of the game.
“We had some great offensive performances tonight,” said Hicks. “McClain and Harshbarger got us going, but Carbaugh was the hero. In the last couple game. He went 3-for-3 against Franklin, then was 3-for-four tonight and drove in three runs.”
“I knew I needed to step up in the playoffs,” Carbaugh related. “I was seeing the ball well and staying focused. I knew what I needed to do.”
The Crusaders got their only run in the bottom of the seventh. Richard Mueller led it off with a walk and moved to third on a one-out double by pinch hitter Kyle Duplaga. Ryan Gibki drew a two-out walk to load the bases, then Josh Herman walked to force in the run. A flyout to center ended the game and began the celebration for the Trojans.
Vonelli struck out one, walked one and gave up 10 hits over three innings to suffer the loss for the Crusaders. In four innings of relief, Benolken fanned three, walked one and allowed four hits.
Mount Union was playing in its sixth PIAA championship game. The Trojans won their first title in 1988, then added another in 1993. The last came in 1995. They were second in 1980 and again in 1996.