SELINSGROVE — It was evident early in Wednesday’s game that scoring chances would be tough to come by against Central Mountain ace Alex Garbrick.
So, when Selinsgrove put runners at first and second with one out in the second inning, things were looking positive for the home team.
After Garbrick retired the first four batters of the game, Morgan Fisher reached on an error and took second on Evan Poust’s hit-and-run single. But four pitches later, Garbrick got Bailey Hottenstein to line out to shortstop Toner Corl, who tug a courtesy runner trying to move to third and just like that, the threat was over.
The hard-throwing Garbrick retired eight batters in
a row and his Wildcats teammates gave him a lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings en route to a 4-0 Heartland Athletic Conference Division I victory at Selinsgrove High School.
“(Garbrick) threw well. I thought our batters did pretty well today facing a pitcher like him,” Selinsgrove coach Brent Beiler said. “He was around the strike zone, he had a good curveball. He was getting a lot of low strikes and that was working against us.”
Garbrick, whose fastball hits 88 miles per hour on the radar gun, complements the heater with a 73 mph breaking ball. The senior, one of five Wildcats who played for Lock Haven in the Little League World Series five years ago, is headed to Morehead State University.
Beiler said he was pleased with the hits that his team got off Garbrick.
“I know we didn’t put any runs on the board, but overall, in the big picture, it was a game we did not have to have. I thought our players did pretty well.”
The Seals (12-5 overall, 8-4 HAC-I), who had won their previous three games and eight of their last 10, made it respectable this time around against HAC-I champion Central Mountain (18-1, 14-0), which won the earlier matchup 9-0.
Some effective pitching by left-hander Drew Gabrielson, who started and pitched into the fifth, and solid defense, kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard until they pushed across one run in the third.
In that inning, a pair of walks led to an RBI single by Talon Falls for a 1-0 Wildcats lead.
The Wildcats made it 2-0 in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Toner Corl.
Central Mountain added a pair of insurance runs in the fifth when Falls led off with a single and designated hitter Wyatt Koch walked, prompting Beiler to lift Gabrielson for another southpaw, Jerrett Inch.
Inch got Isaac Porter to ground into a fielder’s choice, moving Falls to third, from where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Ethan Watkins. Porter stole second, moved to third on a single by Colin Treaster and scored on a passed ball.
Inch and his defense kept the Wildcats at bay from there, including a seventh-inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Gabrielson, a sophomore, was making his first varsity appearance and Beiler said he thought the youngster did well.
After being one-hit through four innings, Selinsgrove again put runners on first and second with a one-out walk to Poust and a two-out single by Colin Hoke. But Garbrick ended the threat with a groundout.
Then, in the sixth, the Seals got base hits from Zac Broome and Aaron Zechman, only to have their opportunity spoiled when Garbrick and first baseman Watkins picked a runner off first before Garbrick got out of that jam with a strikeout.
Selinsgrove threatened again in the seventh, opening the frame with a Fisher single and a walk to Poust. But Garbrick got a strikeout and a pair of groundouts to finish the job.
Central Mountain coach Mike Kramer said there was never any concern about Garbrick.
“He’s thrown I don’t know how many complete games this year, a number of shutouts and two no-hitters,” Kramer said. “So he’s a kid that gets stronger as the game goes on. He was comfortable with keeping the ball down, mixing his pitches and getting them all over for strikes.”
He added that the Seals put runners on base, but Garbrick did not get rattled and had some good defensive plays behind him.
“We got ourselves out of some situations where things could have really gone against us,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats managed only six hits, all singles, off the two Seals’ lefties, three of them by Falls, who reached base all four times.
“Their pitchers did a nice job of keeping us offbalance,” said Kramer, noting that it is rare to face two left-handers in one game. “They do throw you off a little bit. And they did make some good plays on balls we hit hard.”
Beiler said, “It was good to see a pitcher like (Garbrick). I assume we’re going to see Dillan Weikel from Mifflinburg on Friday and he throws hard just like Garbrick and he’s around the plate.”