The Bedford Hurricanes played their best game of the season Saturday as they knocked off undefeated Somerset 5-1 in the Cambria County American Legion playoffs.
The Hurricanes were in a must-win situation with one loss in the double elimination playoffs. The Businessmen, riding a 24-game winning streak, had already clinched a berth in the Pennsylvania Region 7 Tournament at Latrobe, courtesy of an 11-1 win over Claysburg on Friday.
“With your back to the wall, it’s really do or die, and our guys knew that,” Bedford assistant coach Dan Baker said. “They came out and did everything we could have asked them to do. In my opinion, this was the best baseball we played all season. We were error free. We got good pitching from Brad (Painter) and Jake (Stern). We were smart on the base paths and our bats gave us an edge.”
Bedford grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first. Tyler Black followed Jake Stern’s single to left with a double to the leftfield fence. Stern scored on the play.
The Hurricanes added a run in the third when Stern, 2-for-2 with a walk, blooped a single to right that chased home Kody Blevins.
The Businessmen (24-1) got a run back in the top of the fourth inning when Raven Beeman singled home Drew Hemminger with two outs and the bases loaded. They couldn’t capitalize any further as they left three runners stranded in the inning.
Bedford put two more runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth. The Hurricanes scored on a double steal of second and home and Zakk Jays singled to center, where an error on the play allowed a runner to scored.
They rounded out the scoring in the fifth with a run on a pass ball.
Somerset couldn’t seem to get comfortable with Painter’s side arm delivery. He scattered three hits, including two to Austin Sleek (double), walked three and struck out four.
The Post 181 team left a runner on in the sixth and went down 1-2-3 to Stern in the seventh for their first loss of the season.
“Painter had good command of his fastball and curveball and really just stuffed us,” Somerset manager Bob Hay said. “They were obviously playing for a little bit more than we were, but I don’t want to take anything away from them. They made all the plays.
“We were really flat and I will take responsibility for that performance. After the emotional win Friday that takes us back to Regionals, I didn’t have the boys ready to play today.”
Businessmen starter Michael Van Lenten went four innings. He allowed four hits, walked none and struck out four. Michael Flyte pitched two innings of relief allowing one hit, one walk and striking out one.
“The pitching is one positive we can take from this game,” Hay said. “Michael V had good command and threw a lot of groundballs, which is all we ask of him. He kept his composure when we didn’t make the plays behind him. Michael Flyte gave us two good innings out of the bullpen.”
Somerset will enjoy a “much-needed” day off today before playing the winner of today’s Patton at Bedford contest on Monday. Patton eliminated No. 2-seeded Claysburg from the playoffs Saturday with a 2-1 win.