WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — It was fast and furious vs. slow and steady. And, in the end, slow and steady won.
In a friendly showdown of neighborly rivals, Meadville was able to battle back from three deficits to top Cochranton 8-7 in seven innings during the District 1 8-10 Year Old loser’s bracket final on Monday at the Crawford County Fairgrounds Fields. It was a game highlighted by clutch hits, and the last one was in Meadville’s favor.
“(Meadville) battled hard,” said Meadville head coach Keith Grubbs. “Nothing seemed to come easy for anyone tonight.”
Cochranton tried to make it a quick contest.
The visiting squad capitalized on a pair of errors and a walk to take a quick 3-0 lead. Coleton Mattocks led off and reached on an error. Aiden VanSise followed with a walk. One out later, both scored as Shawn Anderson reached on an error. Following another out, Anderson scored on Owen Feltenberger’s RBI double.
Meadville was a little more drawn out in its response. A Kale Armstrong sacrifice fly drove in Ben Howe, who walked, in the second. An inning later, Patrick Mahoney drew a leadoff walk and scored on Jared Grubbs’ RBI single. Then in the third, Armstrong drew a one-out walk and later scored on Ian Millers’ RBI double to tie the game at 3-3.
“They just kept battling back, “said Grubbs. “The battled through everything.”
Cochranton responded quickly.
The visiting team again scored three in the fifth to take a 6-3 advantage. With one out, Easton Fulmer reached on an error and Quin McCartney drew a walk. Charlie Shorts ripped a single to plate Fulmer, and Feltenberger rocked another single to score both McCartney and Shorts.
“We lost our opener 19-1,” said Cochranton head coach Jameson Walker. “For us to show that growth ... At this age, 10-and under baseball, and particularly us with almost half of our team being 8, I am proud of them.”
Meadville just went back to work.
In the bottom of the inning, Meadville started its comeback. Grubbs led off with a single and moved to third on Ryan Fabian’s double. An out later, Howe walked to load the bases. Following a fielder’s choice, Kale Armstrong walked to drive in Fabian. Mahoney then walked to make it a 6-5 game.
In the sixth, Nate Bethune walked to lead off the inning. An out later, an error allowed Fabian to reach base and Bethune to score the tying run.
“When we came in following the top of the fifth, down 6-3,” said Grubbs, “I said, ‘Listen, we got two innings. Let’s try and get a couple back.’”
Cochranton wasn’t quite done.
Shorts reached on a one-out error, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a error during a pick-off attempt. Cochranton was unable to add to its third lead of the game. The question was, would it be enough?
The answer turned out to be no.
Playing from behind almost the entire game, Meadville was unfazed. Mahoney worked a leadoff walk and Miller followed with a single. An out later, Mr. Clutch, Grubbs, ripped his third single of the game to drive in Mahoney to tie the score. One out later, Lauer blooped a single just out of the reach of short to drive in Miller with the winning run.
“I always say, you just never know,” said Grubbs. “At this age group, you just have to keep your head up because anything can happen on any given night. I have a lot of confidence in our boys.”
Grubbs was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, both of which tied the game for Meadville. Miller and Fabian each hit a double. Armstrong drove in two runs and Howe scored twice.
Feltenberger had a big game for Cochranton, going 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Walker went 2-for-2, while Shorts scored a pair of runs.
“Both teams played extremely well,” said coach Walker. “Sometimes it comes down to one play, but there were a lot of plays during that game that could have made the difference.”
Meadville will be back in action on Wednesday as it plays Vernon/Lake/Valley in the championship game at 6 p.m. back at the Fairgrounds Fields.