The 2014 baseball season was about gaining experience for many players at the varsity level as the Red Raiders returned only four position players (Taylor Butts (11)-1B/DH; Tanner Day (11)-CF; Doylan Deitrich (12)-SS/2B; and Andrew Stover (12)-C/3B) with significant playing time in 2013, as well as, one returning pitcher (Noah Perryman-12) with some experience in 2013.
The remaining Red Raider roster consisted of senior Josh Weaver, while the junior class was represented by Trent Fortney, Derek Fries, Jonny Glunt, Adam Kuhn, Ian Marshall, Zach Musser, Vance Przybys, and Devin Walk. From the sophomore class we had Mark Armstrong, Darren Heeman, and Dominic Masullo. Later in the season even a few freshman(Tyler Kreger and Logan Mathieu) were able to fill in some areas of need and made positive contributions.
The 2014 season began with a positive atmosphere as many of the returning and new players were getting acclimated to each other in the “friendly confines” of our auxiliary gym. We worked hard indoors and had many productive practices focusing on fundamentals. Unfortunately, the weather was horrendous all of March and we were not able to get the reps we needed outside consistently before the games began. That led to a 3-5 start, which could have been much different if we were more comfortable defensively. In the first 8 games we gave up more unearned runs (33) than earned runs (22) and we still managed to be competitive in all of those games. Better defensive execution early in the season could have landed us 6 wins with two other nail-biter games to be determined in our bottom of the 7th against Bald Eagle and in extra innings against Dubois. We discussed this as a team and were determined to work hard at improving the rest of the season. In the first 8 games we gave up 33 unearned runs (4.1 per game) on 27 errors (3.4 per game) costing us 3 of the 5 losses. In the last 10 games we gave up 21 unearned runs (2.1 per game) on 24 errors (2.4 per game) which didn’t contribute to any of those losses. In summary, we reduced our errors per game by 1 and reduced our unearned runs per game by 2. We improved enough defensively to not give those last 10 games away and stayed competitive in every game.
After winning a “barn-burner” in Philipsburg (13-12) led by Vance Przybys’ 3 RBI’s and Adam Kuhn’s 2 RBI’s, followed by a drubbing of Tyrone 10-0, where Trent Fortney, Ian Marshall and Zach Musser provided the fireworks by plating 8 runs, the Red Raiders were facing defending league champ Central Dragons (2014 AA state runner-up) in Bellefonte. Josh Weaver started the game and for the 5 innings he pitched, he controlled the Dragons and their strong offensive attack as they scattered 4 hits and scored 2 runs. Meanwhile, a ground-out RBI by Taylor Butts, 2 hits and 1 RBI each by Adam Kuhn and Jonny Glunt, along with a sacrifice fly and RBI by Tanner Day, had us up 4-2 and in the driver’s seat going into the top of the 7th inning. Unfortunately, a series of hits and errors led to the Dragons taking the lead 6-4 into the bottom frame. The Red Raiders answered back with Day taking one for the team and stealing second base to lead off. Andrew Stover’s single plated Day and Stover stole second on the next pitch. Stover then scored on an error tying the ball game at 6. After no action in the 8th inning, Central was able to score 3 runs in the 9th inning after a lead-off walk and three errors by our defense.
After being trounced in Dubois in 2013, we played a very close game against them in Bellefonte in 2014 losing 5-1. Devin Walk started by going 3 & 1/3 innings giving up 1 earned run, while Dominic Masullo followed up with 3 & 2/3 innings allowing 1 hit and no earned runs. Both players stepped up for our team to give us a chance to win. Offensively, the Red Raiders had runners on base including Andrew Stover, Taylor Butts, and Doylan Deitrich each with singles, while Vance Przybys had two hits. However, only Stover scored when Butts had a quality at-bat with a sacrifice fly. The opposing lefty allowed no walks in 7 innings of work.
Darren Heeman threw 5 scoreless innings striking out 4 and allowing only 1 hit and 1 walk. Claysburg had only 1 runner make it to second base through five innings and that was a gift on an error. Otherwise, the Red Raider defense helped close out each inning as we faced one batter over the minimum through 5 innings. Our offense was led by Andrew Stover and Taylor Butts each with two hits and an RBI, while Trent Fortney had a hit and an RBI.
Mark Armstrong entered in the 6th where Ian Marshall ended the inning as he tracked down a long double, found the cut-off man, shortstop Doylan Deitrich, who then relayed it to third baseman Adam Kuhn who tagged the runner out trying to stretch it into a triple. Claysburg made a charge in the bottom of the seventh scoring a run after three straight batters reached base followed by a throwing error. However, Armstrong buckled down and got the next three batters out to preserve the win.
Going for the season sweep of P-O, the Red Raiders got timely hits early from Taylor Butts and Adam Kuhn, both scoring Jonny Glunt who was on base with 2 singles. Up 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Derek Fries and Ian Marshall were on base with hits. Andrew Stover’s sacrifice bunt attempt resulted in an error by the defense and left us with the bases loaded. Jonny Glunt followed with a single which scored 2 runs. Doylan Deitrich followed with a sacrifice fly to score Stover putting us up 5-0. In the top of the 7th inning, P-O made a little noise with a single and double to lead off. A tough error allowed those two runs to score. After a walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd base, a strikeout gave us one out and a double play in line to finish the game. What followed wasn’t exactly how we pictured it, but it did the job. The next batter hit a come-backer to the pitcher who turned and threw to our shortstop, Tyler Kreger. Although Tyler was able to turn and throw accurately, but just a half step late to first base, the umpire signaled runner interference at second base which gave us the unorthodox double play to end the game.
Opportunity knocked as we arrived in Hollidaysburg for their senior day, and several of our players answered big time. Our offense jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings with Andrew Stover who led off by getting hit by a pitch. He stole second base and advanced on a ground ball by Tanner Day. Taylor Butts knocked in Stover with a sacrifice fly. In the second inning, Josh Weaver, DH’ing for pitcher Logan Mathieu, led off with a single. Tyler Kreger followed with an RBI triple and Zach Musser added an RBI single. Musser, later in the top of the 7th inning, led off with a double off the wall eventually scoring on the next play due to an errant throw on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Vance Przybys. Taylor Butts doubled home Przybys to give us the 5-0 advantage. Freshman pitcher, Logan Mathieu, got the call and the lefty showed great mound presence and control of his pitches all day. Mathieu settled in nicely and put in a good day’s work scattering 5 hits and 4 walks while striking out 7 batters and pitching a complete game shutout in his first varsity game.
An end of the season matchup with Bald Eagle turned out to be a pitchers’ duel as Dominic Masullo took the mound after two well-pitched games where he went 8 innings in relief giving up 1 earned run on 6 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 10. Dom took on a strong opponent and held us close for most of the ball game throwing all 6 innings and allowing 1 earned run. An unfortunate error early gave BEA the 2-0 lead, but Dom and the defense pulled it together through the 5th inning. Unfortunately, after 2 hits and 2 outs in the 6th inning, we committed multiple errors to allow our opponent to extend the lead. The Red Raiders continued fighting in the top of the 7th as Tyler Kreger walked with 2 outs and Trent Fortney came up with a big triple to score our lone run.
It was senior day for the few guys we had playing in what would be their last game. After falling to a 4-0 deficit in the second inning with the bases still loaded, Taylor Butts moved from first base to the pitcher’s mound. Taylor’s mix of a well-placed fastball and the knuckleball immediately struck out the first batter and made the next batter lineout to centerfield to end the inning and keep us in the game. That third out ended up being the team’s “Play of the Year,” as centerfielder Tanner Day charged in hard, dove and caught the ball just like all ball players have imagined doing at a clutch time in a game. A big play on defense can sometimes cause a spark on offense and our very next at-bat proved that possible. A hit each by Andrew Stover, Tanner Day and Taylor Butts lead to Doylan Deitrich driving in our first run of our comeback. Butts pitched the rest of the game not facing more than 4 batters in any inning while allowing no runs. Down 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Red Raider offense came alive and caught some breaks. With 1 out, Deitrich singled. After the second out was recorded, Josh Weaver’s ground ball was misplayed keeping the inning alive. Vance Przybys followed with an RBI single as did Trent Fortney. After a walk to Jonny Glunt, another error brought Tanner Day back to the plate. He promptly singled to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs leading us to victory.