Zephyrs fall in D-11 finals
Battling a team full of Division 1 college recruits, Whitehall fell behind early and their late rally was a little too little to battle all the way back. The end result was that the Zephyrs dropped a 6-4 game to Blue Mountain in the District 11 finals, settling for silver medals instead of gold.
The Eagles picked up two runs in the first and doubled down for two more in the second for an early 4-0 lead against starter Andrew Snyder. An RBI single from Billy Gerlott and an RBI double from Kaleb Sophy put up the two first inning runs. In the second, Blue Mountain loaded the bases with two outs and Nate Nabholz came through with a two-run single to left, making it 4-0. The Eagles tacked on insurance runs in the third and fourth innings, stretching their lead to 6-0.
Both teams had been rushed through their pregame warm-ups because of a pending storm and Whitehall coach Shaun O’Boyle attributed that to the early game struggles that Snyder had to endure.
“He didn’t have his breaking stuff that he had against Parkland and it took him a little bit to get it,” he said. “Unfortunately, they scored four quick runs.”
Meanwhile, Nabholz, who has committed to East Carolina, was on the mound for Blue Mountain and threw 6 2/3 strong innings. The Zephyrs put together something in the fourth when Adin Hoderewski led off with a ground ball through the middle. Snyder followed with a sharp ground ball to short that was turned into a fielder’s choice, but Joe Lisicky came up with an infield single to put runners on first and second. Nabholz was able to get the next two batters on fly balls to work out of the jam.
It wasn’t long though before Whitehall was hounding Nabholz again. In the fifth, Matt Snyder singled up the middle and Ryan Schmidt dropped a bunt that Nabholz couldn’t make a play on to put runners on first and second with one out. Shane Fillman followed with the third-straight hit of the inning to drive in Snyder and leave two men on base for Hoderewski, who came through with another RBI single to right. Nabholz was able to respond and get a double-play, ground ball to end the inning.
Lisicky moved from left field to the mound to start the fourth and after allowing a fourth inning run, buckled down to retire eight-straight batters, giving Whitehall the chance to rally.
After their two fifth inning runs, Whitehall got a two-out double from Ben Hudak in the sixth, but Nabholz recorded his third strikeout of the day to strand Hudak at second. The seventh would go better for Whitehall when Schmidt singled to center with one out and Fillman followed with a line drive to second that was misplayed for an error, giving the Zephs runners on first and second. Hoderewski grounded a ball back to the mound and Nabholz misplayed that ball as well, loading the bags for Whitehall. Snyder hit into a fielder’s choice with Schmidt scoring on the play, making it a 6-3 game. Nabholz appeared to be running out of gas and Fillman worked a walk, forcing home Fillman for the second run of the inning.
Eagles coach Tom Kramer turned to Drew Grace, who has committed to Kentucky. Grace quickly recorded the final out on a pop-up in foul ground in front of the first base dugout, giving Blue Mountain the district championship.
“This team is scrappy. I’m happy with the way we finished. We didn’t quit,” said O’Boyle of his team.
Whitehall’s team featured seven seniors and O’Boyle was quick to credit them with carrying the team to the district final game.
“This is one of the best senior classes that I’ve had, work ethic-wise, they handled themselves with class,” he explained. “Each and every one, even the ones that don’t get as much playing time, they’re always the first ones to go out and warm up guys in the bullpen. It’s a great group of kids; we’re going to miss them.”