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Blue Devil baseball team advances in PIAAs

Mark+Stewart+got+out+of+a+bases-loaded+jam+in+the+seventh+inning++to+lift+B-A+to+a+5-1+win+over+South+Williamsport.
Mark Stewart got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning  to lift B-A to a 5-1 win over South Williamsport.

Mark Stewart got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning to lift B-A to a 5-1 win over South Williamsport.

Maria Cuevas

Maria Cuevas

Mark Stewart got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning to lift B-A to a 5-1 win over South Williamsport.


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Bellwood-Antis pitcher Travis Luensmann was dominant for six innings in the first round of the PIAA 2A playoffs yesterday against South Williamsport at Don Engle Memorial Field in Bloomsburg. He struck out 11 and allowed only four hits.

Ian McFarland was back to his old self, as well, driving in three runs and scoring another from his leadoff spot. Freshman Nick Plank, serving as the designated hitter, had a pair of hits and scored two runs.

There were plenty of high-five candidates and lots of praise to spread around.

But without a little magic from reliever Mark Stewart, things might have been a lot different.

Stewart walked through some raindrops during a tenuous seventh inning and made some special pitches in tight spots in leading the Devils to a 5-1 victory over the District 4 champion.

Luensmann left the game after facing one batter in the seventh, Logan Burkett, who reached on an error. That put Luensmann at 101 pitches, and the PIAA limit is 100, so he had to exit.

That brought on Stewart, who promptly hit Ashton Martin before walking Hunter Finn to load the bases. The tying run came to the plate with not much room for error.

But Stewart was able to fan Hunter Corbin on four pitches for the first out and a little breathing room. He then got a ground ball from Ben Johnson, and B-A’s infield rolled it into 4-6-3 double play to end it.

“It was definitely pressure-filled,” B-A coach Steve Conlon said of the seventh inning. “However, I thought we handled it extremely well.”

The Devils improved to 19-4 and advanced to face Camp Hill Thursday at 4 p.m. at Greene Township Park in Scotland. The Mountaineers ended their season at 14-8.

Until the final inning, B-A was cruising. The Devils tallied one run in the top of the first when Jack Showalter drove home McFarland, who led off the game with a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

The Devils tacked on two more runs in the fourth off South Williamsport starter Tripp Green, one of which was unearned. Trentin Whaley reached on an error and later scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0. Later, McFarland singled home Plank, who had a base knock behind Whaley.

The Mounties got on the board in the fifth when Finn doubled home Cole Brewer, but B-A responded in the sixth with a pair of insurance runs thanks to a 2 RBI double from McFarland.

“Ian McFarland has been outstanding this postseason,” said Coach Conlon. “He has been getting things started for us.”

With a 5-1 lead, the Devils only needed to shut down South Williamsport two more times, and Luensmann and Stewart made sure of that. Luensmann struck out a pair in the bottom of the sixth, and when he gave way to Stewart the crafty junior did just enough.

“As a team we are fully confident that we will win when Travis is on the mound,” said Coach Conlon.

The Devils will now face 15-8 Camp Hill, the District 3 champions. They’ll be doing so looking to reach the PIAA Final Four for the second straight season.

“It will take a total team effort,” said Coach Conlon. “We will need to pitch well and play good defense along with scoring runs.”

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Blue Devil baseball team advances in PIAAs