Brock Netter, Staff Writer
WILLIAMSPORT — “Walks will haunt.”
It’s one of the oldest clichés in baseball, but forever remains true. And Westfall got a tough lesson with that quote on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Unioto maintained plate discipline throughout the game and drew three straight walks with the bases loaded during a five-run sixth inning to earn a 10-6 victory over the Mustangs.
The win allowed Unioto (9-2, 5-0 SVC) to move into sole possession of the top spot in the SVC.
“It was a battle, and I’m proud of the guys,” Unioto coach Tony Taylor said. “They worked the count pretty well all day and drove the pitch count up early, which was a huge part of the game from the beginning. They kept a good eye on the ball.”
While the sixth inning wound up to be the biggest storyline from the game, Unioto’s Landyn Patterson had himself quite the day on the bump.
In a pitcher’s duel with Westfall’s Luke Blackburn, Unioto’s freshman hurler threw a gem, tossing all seven innings, allowing five earned runs and striking out six batters for the win.
“There were points he struggled, but he fought through it and didn’t give up,” Taylor said. “We made some errors and misplayed some balls in the field, but he kept battling. We trust him on the mound, and he came through for us in a big spot.”
Blackburn himself had a solid outing as well, throwing five innings and striking out nine batters before exiting with Westfall leading 6-5.
“Luke is one of the best pitchers, if not the best in the SVC,” Taylor said. “But we got him to throw 25 pitches in the first and second inning, which was a big deal. He’s probably used to having thrown 50 pitches after four innings because he’s so effective.”
Westfall (6-5, 4-1 SVC) wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard. After reaching base via error, Titan Williams unloaded an RBI triple followed by an RBI single from Blackburn that put the Mustangs ahead 2-0.
The Shermans, however, answered back in the top of the second. They scored on a wild pitch before Micah Geise ripped an RBI triple to right-center field to tie the game at 2-2. Geise later scored on a passed ball, giving Unioto a 3-2 lead.
“It was a two-strike count and I knew I had to protect the plate,” Geise said. “Luke is a great pitcher and I figured he’d give me a pitch on the outside, so I just stayed back and took it that way.”
The Shermans added another run in the top of the third after Dewey Dailey smoked an RBI single past the first baseman and down the right field line, pushing the lead to 4-2.
However, Westfall responded with three runs in the bottom half. Peyton Weiss hit an RBI single down the right field line and two batters later, Ashton Nunemaker ripped a two-run double to center field that gave the Mustangs a 5-4 advantage.
Westfall added another run in the bottom of the fourth, following an RBI double off the bat of Williams, extending the lead to 6-4.
But the rest of the night belonged to Unioto.
Geise hit an RBI single, cutting the lead to 6-5 and ultimately ending Blackburn’s day on the mound.
The Shermans scored on a wild pitch to tie the game before drawing three straight walks to take the lead before driving in another run on a 6-4-3 double play for an 9-6 lead.
Cam DeBord tallied the final run of the game on an RBI double to seal the deal.
“We took until we got strikes in the final two innings and didn’t swing at any pitches at the hands,” Patterson said. “This game was a battle, but it was a fun game to play in. It’s a great win to have and it puts us in first place.”
Geise finished the day 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs, followed by an RBI each from Patterson, Dailey, DeBord and Braxton Platt.
For Westfall, Williams finished 3-for-3 with a triple, double and two RBIs, while Nunemaker was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
Unioto is back in action today at Adena, while Westfall travels to Zane Trace.