---- — By Eric Shultz
For The Daily Item
NORTHUMBERLAND -- With both Berwick's and Sunbury/Northumberland's pitchers throwing the way they were, both teams were hard-pressed to put a runner in scoring position, let alone score a run.
Jake Hare and Clay DeNoia's scoreless pitching duel lasted until the sixth inning, when Berwick did just enough to notch a run on Hare. It was the only run DeNoia needed to secure a win, as Berwick (5-2) earned a 1-0 win over Sunbury/Northumberland (5-4) in Friday's American Legion contest.
Hare nearly got his way out of the sixth inning unscathed. The frame started when Berwick, which had only one hit to that point, had Anthony Melito lead off with an infield single.
The next plate appearance proved to be pivotal. Kevin Laubach had a hard ground ball misplayed by first baseman Jack Snyder, and it rolled behind him far enough for Laubach to reach first.
Two consecutive fielder's choices on ground balls later, Laubach and Joe Favata stood on third and first base, respectively.
Catcher Dan Curtin made sure he did not waste the two-out opportunity. Curtin hit a ground ball just beyond the reach of diving shortstop Logan Hall and into left field, sending Laubach home.
"I thought he hit it hard enough. Their third baseman was playing up a little bit, so he didn't have the range," said Berwick coach Joe Papada. "So the shortstop would've had to make one heck of a play. And if he does, then you just tip your hat to it."
The lone run handed the loss to Hare, who pitched effectively all game.
Hare sat Berwick's lineup down in order to start the first three innings. He did not allow a baserunner until Melito led off the fourth with a line drive just high enough to get past third base.
Hare ended the game with three strikeouts and only three hits allowed.
"He pitched a strong game, kept us right in it," said Sunbury/Northumberland coach Travis Fisher. "We just couldn't get the big hit. I'm not disappointed with Jake at all, he did a great job."
Fisher said he expected Hare to get out of the sixth-inning jam, as he has done so in similar situations before to pick up wins. But Curtin delivered and, unfortunately for Sunbury/Northumberland, run support never came for Hare because DeNoia was just as impressive on the mound.
DeNoia did not keep a perfect game quite as long, giving up an infield single to Tyler Leib in the second inning.
But DeNoia allowed only four hits, and no more than one in an inning, striking out five along the way.
"That's what we expect from him...He was in control, I thought, the whole game," Papada said. "We just had a guy warm up just in case, but other than that he was dominating. I'm glad we got him a run, because [Hare] pitched just as well, too."
DeNoia's pitching, Papada said, made the coach confident Berwick could hang on, even with just a one-run lead.
Leib hit another infield single with one out in the seventh inning, and Matt Snyder beat out a double-play ball to keep the game alive. But DeNoia kept Snyder at first, tossing his second strikeout of the inning for the win.
Despite being shut out and inconsistent at the plate, Fisher said he was happy with the way Sunbury/Northumberland played. Fisher said the team played great defense and liked how it battled until the end.
"I just need things to fall into place in July. That's what I'm hoping for, and all the pieces are there," Fisher said. "Our team is very deep, I'm very excited about it and I just want things to keep getting better and better. There's a lot of good things to be said about our team."