North Star thumps Tussey Mountain in 5-2A baseball semifinal

BOSWELL, Pa. – For the third straight season North Star will advance to a district championship game after taking down Tussey Mountain 9-3 Wednesday evening in the District 5 Class 2A semifinal. Despite losing in the district championship round the past two seasons, Cougars coach Jake Klukaszewski said he’s focused on winning it this year.

“We’re senior-heavy this year. This is the time to do it,” Klukaszewski said. “We’ve got to stay humble. Keep taking it one pitch, one inning at a time.”

Klukaszewski’s team got off to a hot start against the Titans by scoring three runs in the first inning. Andy Retassie got on base first with a single, followed by Cayden Turner who moved Retassie to third with a base hit.

Turner stole second and a wild pitch scored Retassie and advanced Turner to third for the first run of the game.

Connor Yoder’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Tuner and later in the inning Austin Orris drove in a run with a double. North Stars’s momentum shifted to its defense for the next two innings as Turner pitched back-to-back perfect innings for the Cougars with two strikeouts.

“He’s a tough kid. He’s been our ace for four years now,” Klukaszewski said. “We’re better when he’s on the mound for us. I’m proud of him.”

However, North Star still threatened to score.

In the second inning, a walk and two hit batters loaded the bases for the Cougars with two outs.

Tussey Mountain’s Christian Santamaria came in to relieve starting pitcher Camden Chilcote and struck out his first batter to get the Titans out of the inning unscathed.

Santamaria and Turner impressed through the third inning until the scoring resumed in the fourth. Two base hits and a hit batsman loaded the bases with no outs for Tussey Mountain, but it only managed to score one run after North Star turned a double play and forced a pop fly the next at-bat.

Retassie drove in a run after his base hit snuck under the glove of Tussey Mountain’s center fielder Jack Stoudnour and rolled to the fence. Retassie wound up at third base and Stoudnour came in to pitch for the Titans. Retassie scored off a fielder’s choice to extend his team’s lead to four runs.

Turner retired the side in order again at the top of the fifth, but North Star failed to extend its lead. Turner’s day ended in the sixth after he walked four straight batters to load the bases with no outs.

Vance Kimmel was called in to get the Cougars out of the jam, but Noah Licko ripped a grounder up the middle to cut the deficit to two. Two fly balls and a strikeout limited the damage for the Cougars as their bats got hot again.

Doubles from Yoder, Glendon Griffith and Nolan Weible drove in four runs for North Star to make it 9-3 with one inning to play. Tussey Mountain was able to get two baserunners via walks, but Kimmel and the Cougars’ defense were able to close the game to advance to the district championship.

After the loss, Tussey Mountain’s head coach Jordan DeLuca said he’s proud of his team and looks forward to next season.

“It’s a productive season. Fourteen wins, first time in 10 years since we made playoffs, the first playoff win, and just getting here,” DeLuca said. “We graduate one senior this year and we’ve got everyone returning, so just keep getting better every day.”

North Star will face Northern Bedford County in Tuesday’s District 5 Class 2A championship.