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Two scores in final at bat push Blue Devils over Township in PIAA

Bellwood-Antis opened their first round in the PIAA state baseball tournament with a heart-stopping come-from behind in their last at bat win over District V champ Conamaugh Township on Monday afternoon at Mansion Park, Altoona.
Trailing from the get-go when Conamaugh Township took advantage of rare bad defensive start for the Blue Devils to plate two unearned runs in the top of the first before the District VI champs had a chance to bat, the Blue devils battled back for the win.
B-A, with just one error in the four wins on the way to a District VI Class A title, committed two in one inning.
First, Derrick Miller misplayed leadoff hitter Josh Hetrick’s fly ball into a two-base error. After Arek Zambanini’s single to right scored Hetrick. Blue Devil starter Nate Carlson had Zambanini picked off second base, but threw wildly allowing the Township second baseman to advance to third with nobody out. One out later a Jeff Summits fielder’s choice scored Zambanini.
After walking Alex Shroyer, Carlson settled down close out the inning with no further damage. The senior right-hander tossed scoreless ball in the second and third, but Shroyer led off the fourth with a single and Ben Watkins crushed a ball off the left field fence for a double to put runners at second and third.
Adam Plummer relieved Carlson at that point. The senior left hander fanned the first hitter to face him, but gave up a single to E. J. Beidle that scored both runners to increase the Township lead to 4-1.
Plummer held Conamaugh Township in check for the remainder of the ballgame allowing no runs on four hits, striking out four and walking none.
Bellwood-Antis got one tally back in their half of the first. With one down Zach Stere walked on four pitches, moved to third on a single by Shawn Weiand and scored on a single by Miller.
Township pitcher Jordan Rehar struck out six straight B-A batters at one point staying pretty much in control through the middle innings of the PIAA first round contest and was in particular command of the lower third of the Bellwood-Antis lineup, accumulating seven strikeouts and two meek groundouts in nine plate appearances for the numbers seven, eight and nine hitters in the Bellwood-Antis lineup.
Rehar gave up four walks however and hit a batter and that caused his downfall.
Bellwood-Antis chipped away with two runs in the fifth to cut the deficit to a single run 4-3. Ricky Shannon singled with one out and Stere walked for the second time in the game. Plummer rolled a grounder that went through CT second baseman Zambanini for an error that scored Shannon and allowed Stere to get to third base. Weiand’s single to right scored Stere.
“We always tell the guys if you keep it close, you can get a chance at the end,” said Bellwood-Antis coach Steve Conlon as the Blue Devils hiked their record to 19-4 and sent Conamaugh Township to the sidelines finishing their season 17-5.
Shannon also started the seventh inning uprising. The B-A senior centerfielder looped a single into left center with one out. Stere was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Plummer helped himself out with a single to right that sent Shannon home with the tying run.
With Stere on third and Plummer going to second on the play, Conamaugh Township was forced to intentionally walk Weiand and set their infielders and outfielders way in for a possible play at home. Derrick Miller turned from goat in the first inning to hero when he rifled a shot past Township first baseman Jeff Summits for the game-winning RBI scoring Stere with the winning run.
“We wanted to get a baserunner on and make things happen,” said Conlon. “Derrick and Adam came up there, seniors in possibly the last at bat of their high school career and they just didn’t want to end it that way.”
Plummer (7-0) continued his masterful work on the mound picking up his fourth win of the playoffs. In 25 and 2/3 innings of playoff competition, Plummer has fanned 29 batters, walked four, allowing just two earned runs for an ERA of 0.55 and the opposition has been able to hit just .117 against him. Adam also had a save in the District second round against Mount Union.
The B-A defense, which got off to a horrendous start, helped keep the Blue Devils in the game several times. Plummer aided the cause by picking a runner off first base with a perfect throw to Nate Carlson in the seventh. Two innings earlier, sophomore third baseman Chris Alley robbed Rehar of a base hit by diving to his left to come up with a hard shot and Carlson picked the throw out of the dirt to complete the play. Junior catcher Shawn Weiand made a beautiful play on a swinging bunt in the fifth, pouncing out after the ball, then whirling and throwing in one motion to nip the runner at first by the smallest of margins.
“This is awesome,” said Conlon. “ I can’t explain it right now, my heart is pounding probably a hundred beats a minute right now. This year we have been the kind of team that wins by a run or two. We haven’t been a team to go out and blow other teams out. I think this gives us confidence to know we can be down and come back in the last inning.”
Bellwood-Antis will play Eisenhower of District 10 on Thursday, in the PIAA quarterfinals at a time and site to be decided. Eisenhower advanced with a 6-1 win over Canevin Catholic from District VII yesterday.
Bellwood-Antis 5 Conamaugh Township 4
CONAMAUGH TOWNSHIP – Hetrick, cf, 4-1-0; Zambanini, 2b, 4-1-1; Rehar, p, 3-0-0; Summits, 1b, 3-0-1; Shroyer, c, 2-1-1; Watkins, 3b, 3-1-1; Stevanus, lf, 3-0-0; Beidle, ss, 3-0-3; Speicher, rf, 0-0-0; Jarvis, dh, 2-0-0; Byers, dh, 1-0-1. TOTALS 28-4-8.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS – Shannon, cf, 4-2-2; Stere, ss, 1-3-0; Plummer, 1b-p, 4-0-1; Weiand, c, 2-0-2; Miller, lf, 4-0-2; Carlson, p-1b, 3-0-1; Myers, rf, 3-0-0; Brisbin, 2b, 3-0-0; Alley, 3b, 3-0-0. TOTALS 27-5-8.
Conamaugh Township 200 200 0 4-8-1.
Bellwood-Antis 100 020 2 5-8-2.
2B: Watkins 1.
RBI: Beidle 2, Zambanini 1, Summits 1, Miller 2, Plummer 1, Weiand 1.
SO: Rehar 10, Carlson 4, Plummer 6.
BB: Rehar 4, Carlson 1.
WP: Plummer LP: Rehar.