Baseball Team’s Season Ends in District Championship Game

Senior Logan Shannon strides to throw a pitch in the fifth inning.
Senior Logan Shannon strides to throw a pitch in the fifth inning.
Noah Radio

On May 23, the State High Baseball Team made the trek to Mount Aloysius College to take on Mifflin County in the District VI Championship Game. The Little Lions’ upset bid came up well short, falling to the Huskies 10-5.

The defending District VI Champion Little Lions carried a 10-10 record into the matchup, including a semi-final win over Altoona one week earlier. Mifflin County, the Co-Mid-Penn Commonwealth Champions, came into the game with a 13-6 record and the number one seed in the District VI Tournament.

The Little Lions entered the game shorthanded, down two players with meaningful roles. Sophomore pitcher Cody Norman and junior catcher/DH Jack Coleman were both absent and could’ve helped the team solve issues both on the mound and behind the plate.

Outside of Norman, State High had its full pitching staff available. Senior Sam Janik started on the hill for the Little Lions and got into trouble in a hurry.

Janik surrendered just one run in the bottom of the first inning, but the rally spelled trouble for later in the game. The State High offense was unable to give Janik any run support in the first two innings, going scoreless with just one hit.

In the bottom of the second, Janik lost his typically pinpoint accuracy and walked the first two batters of the inning, Tucker Gill and Farrell Souders. That brought up the top of the order, and leadoff batter Ryan Kanagy wasted no time scoring adding another run to the scoreboard. Kanagy smacked a line drive to Jensen Chestnut in left field scoring Gill and sending Sounders to third.

The Huskies added another run to the tally off of a failed pickoff attempt by sophomore catcher Cam Machtinger that sailed into center field. With Kanagy standing on second base, Mifflin County shortstop Landen Eichhorn ripped a double to right center field and made the score 4-0.

That was the end of the day for Janik. State High Head Coach David Williams took the slow walk out to the mound and called for senior Gino Pighetti out of the bullpen.

Pighetti’s first opponent, Mifflin County’s star third baseman Xavier Smith, recorded his first extra base hit of the game with an RBI double. State High was in a precarious position with no outs, a runner in scoring position, and all the momentum in the hands of the Huskies. However, Pighetti was able to settle down and douse the flames with three consecutive outs. All in all, a four-run inning for the Huskies brought the score to 5-0 after two innings.

Senior Logan Shannon and Williams both referred to that troublesome half inning as a real turning point in the game. Shannon said, “Early in the game we had that down moment, and we just need to let that go early on, let it slide, and not let it impact the game like I feel like it did.” Williams lamented the fact that after this inning the Little Lions were playing catch-up the rest of the way.

After a scoreless third inning, the Little Lions were finally able to get on the board in the top of the fourth. State High capitalized on three errors by the Mifflin County outfield to post three runs and cut the deficit to two.

Mifflin County added another run to its total in the bottom of the fourth but couldn’t capitalize on two Pighetti walks and stranded two runners on base.

The top of the fifth inning had the makings of a comeback for the Little Lions. After Mifflin County starting pitcher Aidan Attivo walked Jensen Chesnut to begin the inning, Mifflin County Head Coach Ray Hoppel made the move to the bullpen and brought in senior Doug Weaver.

Two more walks and a single later, the Little Lions had plated one run and the bases were loaded with no outs. The Husky lead was just two and the State High crowd was on its feet.

Weaver, facing the sixth, seventh and eighth batters in the State High order, embraced the pressure and set them down in short order to get out of the inning. Back-to-back strikeouts followed by a ground out limited the damage to just one run.

Pighetti’s day came to an end with three straight walks to begin the bottom of the fifth. Williams called on yet another senior to take the mound, this time it was Shannon, the third baseman.

Shannon was put in a near-impossible position, and it showed as the Huskies scored two runs before Shannon even gave up a hit. Once Shannon did give up a hit, though, that was all she wrote. Smith came up to the plate for Mifflin County and blasted a moon shot that reached the parking lot beyond the left field fence. The two-run home run sucked the life out of the State High dugout and put the Huskies up 10-4. Shannon managed to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.

Junior shortstop Sebastian Rhoades manufactured a run for the Little Lions with some gutsy baserunning in the top of the sixth inning, but that would be the last run of the game. Mifflin County shut down the Little Lions in the seventh inning and hoisted the District VI Championship trophy.

Looking across the field at the Mifflin County celebration, Williams remembered the celebration after his team won the district championship last season. “Obviously we’re on the other side of that score, so the boys are hurting right now,” Williams said. “My heart is with them, they’re a great group of kids, they’re battlers, their competitors, and they fought every day through this season so right now my heart is just with them.”

The Little Lions are losing six seniors from this year’s team, many of which occupied key positions. However, 2024 brought in a historic freshman class including outfielder Davontae Hardison and infielders Kellen Williams and Rowan Walker, all of whom could be impact players on the varsity field next season. That freshman class coupled with sophomores and juniors such as Rhoades and outfielders Michael Powell and Jake Hall who already have varsity experience make up a strong nucleus for the Little Lions to carry into 2025.

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