*All credit of this article goes to the Centre Daily Times.
PHILIPSBURG — No. 1 Philipsburg (19-4) needed just one inning to all but seal the first game of the Centre County Baseball League championship series, beating No. 3 Howard (14-11) 13-1 in five frames.
The Pirates (and their home crowd) capitalized off the struggles of Hawks starting pitcher Tyler Womer. Womer hit two batters and walked four to open, forcing Howard to send in Jack Rote for relief.
Rote hardly fared better than Womer, however, as Philipsburg’s Robbie Smith hit a double to drive in two runs. The Pirates ended the first frame up 7-0.
“We came out hot,” said Pirates’ manager Drew Bryan. “That was big for us, sometimes we start out slow and we don’t get hot, but today I think we came out and we saw pitches, we got guys on base, and just looked really great on offense.”
Howard tried to rally in the second with a leadoff double from Clay Smith. Smith would become the Hawks’ first and only run after Dan Cole hit a run-base RBI.
The Hawks were blanked once more in the third inning, but Philipsburg flourished, beginning the inning by loading the bases with no outs after Brandon Quay was walked and both Matt Curtis and Mike Marcinko singled. Philipsburg plated two more in the inning to push their lead to 10-1.
Howard’s Austin Rote and Clay Smith both hit singles to start off the fourth inning. They were left on base after Dan Cole’s ball to outfield was caught for the first out of the frame, and Pirates pitcher Mark Curtis struck out the two remaining batters.
Curtis finished the game with five strikeouts and allowed five hits.
“It was great having Mark on the mound, he was really solid, threw a lot of strikes, and let the defense work,” said Bryan
The Pirates scored their final three runs in the fourth inning, and Howard still couldn’t rally, forcing a run-rule early ending.
“We just need to keep going.” Bryan said. “We just need to keep it up. They’re a really good baseball team. They have good pitching, good hitting, good defense, they just have good everything, and we’ll just need to be on.”
Philipsburg will visit Howard on Thursday night at 6 p.m. for the second game in the five-game series.