Kinney still throwing strikes

Port Allegany native Josh Kinney warms up before a recent game. Kinney currently has a 1-2 record and a 3.60 ERA for the Class AAA Charlotte Knights, the top affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo courtesy of the Knights' media relations department.)

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
May 26, 2011

Before Port Allegany started its own high school baseball program, students who wanted to play had to catch the bus over the hill to Shinglehouse for practices and games as part of a co-op agreement with Oswayo Valley, a trip the players jokingly called the “squirrel trail.”

Little did pitcher Josh Kinney know that those rides through the northern Pennsylvania woods would lead to a World Series ring and an 11-year – and counting – professional baseball career.

“I don’t think you could ever plan it like this. I count my blessings every day,” the 1997 Port High grad says during a Sunday-morning chat in Buffalo, where his Charlotte Knights are preparing to play the Bisons that afternoon. “When I look back on stuff like that, it’s just funny how it all works, because I didn’t think I’d be playing baseball for a living. I just always played because it’s what I like to do.

“But I really cherish those memories and those times,” he adds. “Guys don’t get to do that now, because we’ve got our own team.”


Kinney spent 10 years in the St. Louis organization, going from the unimaginable high of the 2006 World Series championship run to the low of reconstructive surgery on his elbow the next spring and the lengthy rehab which followed. He finished with a 1-4 record for their Class AAA affiliate in Memphis in 2010, earning 17 saves and compiling a 1.80 ERA in 56 appearances, but his time with the Cardinals came to a close when they removed him from their 40-man roster and allowed him to become a free agent after the season.

“When they took me off, I was pitching really well, felt great. It was one of those things where I never really understood what was going on,” he says. “In baseball, as a player, you have a perspective from the player’s view. You don’t know what owners and managers are thinking. But when they took me off, they kept giving me lip service, telling me, ‘We can still call you back up. We’ve still got plans for you. We were just trying to trade for someone and our roster was full, so you were a guy we thought we could take off without anybody grabbing you.’ Stuff like that. Then I tried to get traded and they wouldn’t trade me, so they just basically let me sit there. I really still don’t know why, but that’s neither here nor there. I finished the year and had one of the best years I’ve ever had. You look at my numbers, they speak for themselves.”

While the Cards were no longer interested in his services – a stark reminder that at its highest levels, baseball is as much a business as a game – at least four other teams were. Kinney chose the Chicago White Sox from the offers he received, thinking it was his best chance to get back to the big leagues, but for now he’s with their Triple-A team in Charlotte.

“In the offseason – you’re looking at November when I signed with these guys – at that time, they had lost several guys out of their bullpen. They only had four or five guys returning to their pen, so it looked like it would be a good fit. Then they signed a bunch of guys after that, and here we are,” he says, then shrugs. “But that’s the way it goes. All you can really do is just play the game and do your best, and hopefully it works out.”

Signing with Chicago meant plenty of adjustments for Kinney, including a move to North Carolina and his first trip through the International League.

“I was pretty excited about it, to tell you the truth,” he says. “Being that it’s a totally new league, every park I go to is new. After playing as long as I’ve played, it’s neat to have something fresh, wear a different-colored uniform. I wore red for 10 years – wouldn’t change it – but red cleats every day for 10 years, and all of a sudden I got a pair of black ones sent to me. It’s like, ‘What is this?’

“But the change has been good. I really like our team. I like our coaches a lot – our manager, our pitching coach here, our hitting coach. They’re good people that know the game, that played it, so you have respect for them. It’s good. I’m enjoying it.”

The respect is mutual from Knights manager Joe McEwing, a former major-leaguer who split time between four teams during a nine-year pro career.

“He’s a pro’s pro,” McEwing says. “He’s taken guys under his wing and showed them the right way. He leads by presence and by example, the way he goes about his business every day. Guys can look at it and say, ‘This is what it takes to get to the big leagues.’ I’m very fortunate to be in a situation where I have a veteran leader like Josh – the type of person he is, and the way he goes about his business – and that doesn’t even mention what goes on on the field. He’s an outstanding pitcher, and hopefully we can get him back to the big leagues.”

One other change in his job description: Because the White Sox are an American League team which uses the designated hitter, batting practice is a thing of the past.

“I haven’t swung a bat since I’ve been over here, and that’s fine with me. Those days are over,” he says with a laugh. “Any more, I’d go swing and I’d be sore from swinging it, so I don’t care anymore. Besides, I hit last year. My last at-bat, I got a hit.”


Saturday night was a good one for Kinney. Walking to the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-run lead, he rolled up five strikeouts in two scoreless innings of work, handed the game over to closer Brian Bruney for the save in Charlotte’s 6-3 win, and got a hug from mom Debbie outside the clubhouse afterward.

“This is awesome. I got to see my family last night. To me, that’s wonderful,” he says. “Today, I’m going home after the game, and I haven’t been home in the summertime since I was in college. Just getting to see familiar faces has been nice. You know, actually, I was thinking about that last night …”

Kinney goes on to note that on seemingly every Knights road trip, someone from Port Allegany – which he still considers home, no matter where he’s playing – has shown up at a game.

“It’s been great,” he says. “I didn’t get that with the Cardinals. It was so far away from home that you just didn’t run into people. In the big leagues, I had people come to Pittsburgh, Washington, New York … But it’s different when you’re in the big leagues. You really don’t have as much time to spend, and do everything. So I’m excited to be here.”


The biggest adjustment of all had nothing – and everything – to do with Kinney’s baseball career, when wife Jorni delivered the couple’s first child, son Saxton Thomas Robert, shortly before he left for spring training. How’s the new dad doing?

“It’s awesome,” he says. “I don’t know how it happened so quick. You look at this game, you’ve honestly got to be kind of selfish to play baseball and do it at a high level. You’ve just got to be committed to it; I don’t know how to describe it other than that. You’ve got to be committed to the game – the work, the time here – and I’ve always been good with that.

“Now, there’s somebody more important. I’ve got a wife, and now I’ve got a son. I realized when I got married, you know what? There’s a lot more to today than how many runs I give up or how many strikeouts I get, how bad I pitch or how good I pitch. Now it’s not about me, it’s about my family.

“I went through that with my wife a little bit, but it’s a lot easier dealing with an adult. You can reason with them,” he jokes before quickly adding, “I love being married. And now we have a son, and it’s just wonderful. I mean, it’s so nice to come home and see him, to have him puke on me or whatever else he does, but we’re just having a blast. Aside from the no-sleep part” – Kinney’s stellar outing against Buffalo becomes even more impressive when he explains that he’d gotten only two hours of shuteye the night before – “it’s been great. Had to learn how to change diapers, I’ve been peed on several times, and I wouldn’t change it. Love it.

“It’s so hard for me just to go on an eight-day road trip. Yesterday, I had to kiss them goodbye. Kiss my wife, kiss the baby, kiss the dog … Before, it was no big deal. Now, I come home and he’s doing stuff different. When we came home from the last eight-day road trip, it looked like he grew, he gained a pound or something. His hair looks different, and he’s grabbing stuff, and blowing bubbles, so I don’t know what he’ll be doing this time. It’s great.”

While the 32-year-old Kinney misses his young family on the road, it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to make the transition from professional baseball player to stay-at-home father just yet.

“The competitive side of me, I love it. I don’t know if it’ll ever go away,” he says. “Last night was great going out there, close game, my family’s here. And obviously I’ve still got a little bit of stuff. I got some guys out.

“I feel good, as far as my age and my body. I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t thought about what I’d do if it was over, being what I went through with my arm and now that I have a family. But I feel too good, and I still love it too much, to just quit.”


Kinney doesn’t get into Sunday’s game, as the Bisons rough up Knights starter Matt Zaleski on their way to a 7-5 win. But he’s all smiles as he heads for the clubhouse door – the first player out – dropping into the coaches’ room on the way by to tell them, “See you tomorrow. I’m going to go home and shoot a turkey.”

McEwing tells him that if he gets one, to bring it back with him and they’ll have the Bisons’ chefs cook it for them. A coach adds, “Get a deer and we’ll cut that bad boy up, too.”

Everyone laughs, and Kinney heads out the door, shouldering his backpack and walking down the hallway to his waiting rental car.

Going home.

© Lori Chase, 2011.

Softball: Power surge lifts Gators past Ramettes in D-9 opener

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
May 26, 2011

Kyley Mickle settled underneath the towering pop fly, a smile spreading across the Gator shortstop’s face as she waved her teammates back. As the ball landed safely in her glove for the final out of Port Allegany’s 9-4 win over Johnsonburg in Monday’s District 9 softball playoff opener, the on-field celebration began, but Mickle already had Port’s next opponent on her mind.

“I was just like, ‘We’re going to Coudy!’” she said with a grin, looking ahead to Wednesday afternoon’s quarterfinal game against the third-seeded Falcons (12-2) in Coudersport.

First, though, the sixth-seeded Gators (12-6) had to get past visiting No. 11 Johnsonburg. The Ramettes weren’t going back to Elk County without a fight, taking a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning of a back-and-forth game.

That’s when, following a season-long trend of late-game power surges, the Port High bats came alive. Catcher Cora Bova started the rally with a one-out single, then raced all the way home to score the tying run on Mickle’s double to right field. First baseman Rachel Taylor left no doubt on her next swing of the bat, launching a rocket over the centerfield fence to put Port in front for good.

“I knew it was gone when she hit it, because she hit it solid,” coach Dave Morey said of Taylor’s two-run homer, which gave his squad a 5-3 lead.

Johnsonburg would get one back in the top of the sixth, but the Gators answered with a four-spot in the bottom of the inning – highlighted by Mickle’s two-run blast to left, followed by doubles from Taylor and Kris-Ann Raymo – and the Ramettes went down in order in the seventh to end the game.

“They were just so far out in front of that pitcher,” Morey explained. “They finally figured her out and started hitting the ball. Our defense has been good, but we just didn’t hit. Once we started hitting, it was all over.”

Mickle (2-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI) and Taylor (2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI) led the way at the plate, with Bova (2-3, RBI), Becky Andrus, and Sarah Brodhun (2-3) also doubling and Becca Lathrop sacrificing in a run. Andrus and Jenny Shelley shared pitching duties for the Gators, while Kiana Myers took the loss for Johnsonburg.

“I thought it was going to hit the fence,” Mickle said of her first career homer, finally reaching a goal she’d set for herself as a freshman. “That’s how it’s been all year – I almost had two of them, but one hit the fence and a girl caught the other one over the fence. This one just kept carrying, and it was out.”

And the timing couldn’t have been any better for Mickle and her fellow seniors.

“This is our first playoff game. We haven’t been here in five or six years,” she said. “To finally get a win … I can’t explain it. It’s just awesome.”

Now, it’s off to Coudy, which swept the season series by scores of 8-3 and 10-0. But the playoffs are a brand-new season, and Mickle believes.

“I think we can do it,” she said. “If we keep playing like we have been, I think we really can do it. They’ve been our rivals in every sport, they always beat us, so it’s nice to get one last shot at them.”

At Port Allegany, May 23:

Johnsonburg 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 4 2 3
Port Allegany 1 1 0 0 3 4 X 9 11 0

Kiana Myers (1 SO, 2 BB) and Dani Dwyer
Becky Andrus (6 SO, 5 BB), Jenny Shelley (6) (1 BB) and Cora Bova

HR: Taylor (PA), Mickle (PA). 2B: Bova (PA), Mickle (PA), Taylor (PA), Andrus (PA), Brodhun (PA), Raymo (PA), K. Myers (J).

T/F: Conway wins D-9 title; Stuckey also advances to states

Following Friday’s District 9 track meet in Kane, Port Allegany will have two athletes representing the school at the PIAA state championships in Shippensburg, including the first district champ in coach George Riley’s tenure with the squad.

Sophomore Nick Conway cemented his standing as the top 110-meter hurdler in the area, winning the title in :15.53 – almost four-tenths of a second faster than the second-place finisher – and adding a third-place finish in the 300 hurdles. Meanwhile, Camrin Stuckey qualified in the javelin with a third-place throw of 176′ 2”, and also managed to finish sixth in the long jump.

Other Gator placewinners included Brock Taylor (3rd in discus and 4th in shot put), Kelsey Payne (4th in high jump), Max Morris (4th in long jump), Seth Lowery (5th in shot put), and Tyce Miller (5th in high jump).

“Everybody did well,” Riley said. “If you look at where we were seeded and where we ended up, we had a great day today.”

Elk County Catholic won both Class AA team titles, with the Gator boys finishing sixth, tops among North Tier League teams.

“One of the things that I’ve been wanting to say and haven’t had a chance is, it’s not just me,” Riley said. “I have a great coaching staff, with Bob Haskins doing throwing and Dan Eskesen helping out with jumping and running. And then my volunteer coaches – Kelly Burgess helping out with the girls but also doing some hurdle work, long jump and triple jump, Tom Murphy in long jump and triple jump, Hunter Conway in hurdles and high jump, and Steve Frison at pole vault. They’re all good at what they do, they specialize in what they do, and it makes my job a whole lot easier. We wouldn’t be as good as we are without those guys. So they need a little tip of the hat, my thanks and the school’s thanks.”

Baseball: Gators drop playoff opener to Hubs

Thanks to a spring full of rainouts and canceled games, when Port Allegany and Smethport met in Tuesday’s District 9 baseball playoff opener at Roulette, the longtime rivals were seeing each other for the first time all season.

For the Hubbers, it was worth the wait. Al Myers and Tony Farrell keyed a seven-run second inning with back-to-back home runs off Gator ace Garrett Drabert, and following a Port rally which cut the margin to 9-6, Kolin Strawcutter added another two-run shot in the fourth to power the ninth seed to an 11-7 victory and a quarterfinal-round matchup against No. 1 Coudersport on Thursday.

“We’ve been struggling all year, but it seems like when it’s warm out we swing the bat, and tonight they did against a very good team,” Smethport coach Rick Austin said before admitting, “I was scared to death coming over here to play. I know what Stuckey can do, Lowery, Drabert, all of them. We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game. They’re very well coached. It was exactly what we had planned, but I didn’t think it would be by this amount of runs. Big win.”

In the opposing dugout, Port coach Nate Zitnik reflected on a game – and season – that seemed to slip just out of the Gators’ grasp.

“A couple of those hits, if you shift them over a few feet, were double-play balls and ground-ball outs,” he said. “And Garrett does a great job getting guys on their front foot and getting fly balls, but when the wind is blowing out and you’ve got 320 feet in the power alleys … I’m not making excuses, but it just didn’t match up well for us today.”

Jory Okerlund picked up the win for Smethport with Brian Zetwick and Clay Schuler coming on in relief, while Drabert and Camrin Stuckey shared mound duties for the Gators.

“I do give credit to Camrin,” Zitnik said. “He was the first pitcher we’ve had this season to throw over 100 pitches, and he gutted it out. He wanted the opportunity to keep us close, and he did. We didn’t take advantage of opportunities that we should have.”

So while the Hubbers (8-4) move on to face a 12-1 Falcons team which eked out a pair of one-run wins in their two meetings this season, the Gators conclude an on-again, off-again year at 10-5.

“With the type of season we had, not being able to practice outside, being stuck in the gym … I wouldn’t trade any of these guys,” Zitnik said. “They didn’t hit the panic button. One of these times they’ll get rewarded for that work ethic and effort; I just hope it happens sooner rather than later.

“I feel awful for the seniors that they had to go out on this note, with this type of season, because it really wasn’t a baseball season. It’s unfortunate for them. It was a good senior class, and I’m upset that we couldn’t have done more with those guys.”

At Roulette, May 24:
Smethport 1 7 1 2 0 0 0 – 11 8 2
Port Allegany 1 0 5 0 0 0 1 – 7 7 5
Jory Okerlund (4 SO, 3 BB), Brian Zetwick (3) (4 SO, 3 BB), Clay Schuler (6) (3 SO) and Al Myers
Garrett Drabert (1 SO, 1 BB), Camrin Stuckey (3) (8 SO, 3 BB) and Zach Sigafoes
HR: Myers (S), Farrell (S), Strawcutter (S). 3B: Kysor (PA)

Stuckey added to Raabe Classic roster

WR/DB Camrin Stuckey is the third Gator named to the Pennsylvania roster for the 38th Don Raabe Charities Classic, slated for Aug. 6 at Parkway Field in Bradford.

Lori Chase
May 19, 2011

Any highlight videos of the Port Allegany football team’s 2010 season have to include plenty of footage of Camrin Stuckey. The 6-2, 180-pound senior receiver/defensive back defined the Gators’ big-play capability, leading the team with 30 catches for 733 yards – for a remarkable 24.4 yards per reception – and scoring 15 touchdowns, including six of more than 50 yards.

Stuckey started the year with a stellar five-touchdown performance at Ridgway, scoring on a kickoff return, a fumble recovery, and three long catches in one of his three 100-yard games. His most important touchdown of the season, though, might have been in a game where he never caught a pass but still found a way to make plays.

Port was already down 7-0 to Redbank Valley in the District 9 semifinals at the end of the first quarter, and the situation looked bleak for the Gators as they faced another fourth down.

But instead of punting, Stuckey sprinted left, cut back to the right, and took off down the Port sideline on an electrifying run. Nineteen seconds later on the scoreboard clock, Ken Kysor was lining up to kick the game-tying extra point.

“I had a lot of good blocks on that punt. I got going, just picked it up. It was pretty cool,” Stuckey said before adding with a laugh, “I ran all over on the field. I was pretty tired after running that – went one way, then came back the other.”

“We noticed that when we got our guy in motion the first time, they followed him. So we told Camrin, ‘If you see that guy following him, just keep it and take off,’” Port coach Mike Bodamer said. “He’s just an athlete; that’s what he does for you.”

Stuckey struck again on the first play of the second half, flashing into the Bulldogs’ backfield to drag running back Kyle Lee down for a safety. The Gators still trailed 17-9, but momentum was swinging their way, and they rallied for a 24-17 victory to advance to the D-9 championship game.

That playmaking ability earned Stuckey a spot on both the Allegheny Mountain League North and the Olean Times Herald Big 30 All-Star teams, and with the Big 30 honor, an automatic invitation to this year’s Don Raabe Charities Classic. Slated for August 6 at Bradford’s Parkway Field, the former Big 30 All-Star Game is in its 38th year, with the previous 37 games between teams from New York and Pennsylvania raising nearly $1.5 million to benefit local charities throughout the Twin Tiers. The Empire State squad holds a 19-16-2 edge in the series, including a 46-37 win in last year’s game.

Stuckey, Kysor, and Seth Lowery will represent Port Allegany in the game, along with cheerleaders Cora Bova, Bryanna Evens, and Caryne Healy and Homecoming Queen Renee Edgell.

Pennsy coach Jason Barner plans to use Stuckey on defense, which is perfectly fine with him.

“I’d definitely much rather play defense. As much as I liked offense, I was more of a defensively-bound player. I like flying around, being able to hit people. More exciting,” he said.

A multi-sport athlete who also made the Big 30 All-Star baseball team last year and will compete in this week’s District 9 Track and Field Championships, Stuckey plans to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania this fall.

Gator softball on a roll

Lori Chase
May 19, 2011

Early in Port Allegany’s softball game against visiting Sheffield on Monday afternoon, it looked like it was going to be a quiet day for the hometown bats.

Not for long. On the second trip through the lineup, the Gators started figuring out the Wolverines pitching. And once they started hitting they didn’t stop, bashing eight extra-base hits – highlighted by Kris-Ann Raymo’s inside-the-park home run – to rally from a 2-0 deficit for a wild 11-8 win.

“We just moved them up in the box and slowed their bat speed down. They were way out in front of it,” Port coach Dave Morey explained after watching his team win its sixth game in a row to improve to 9-6 on the season. “They’re starting to gel, and playing better. Feels good.”

Raymo (2-4, triple, HR, 3 RBI) and Kyley Mickle (3-4, triple, 3 RBI) powered the Gator attack, with Rachel Taylor (3-4, 1 RBI) adding two triples and Cora Bova drilling a double off the right-field fence on the fly. Becky Andrus and Jenny Shelley shared pitching duties for Port, with Andrus picking up the win.

Port’s winning streak began with a sweep against Oswayo Valley, but the real eye-opener came in a 9-4 victory over Otto-Eldred on Friday.

“We’d lost to them twice already, and that really helped turn things around,” Morey said.

The Gators followed that game up with another doubleheader sweep on Saturday, coming back to win both games against Northern Potter, before doing the same to Sheffield.

“The girls have been working really hard and hustling. That’s the key to it, really,” Morey said. “And they’re starting to believe they can win. That’s been our big problem; they’ve never believed in themselves, that they could actually do it. Now, they believe, and it’s happening.”

T/F: Port boys, NoPo girls claim North Tier meet titles

Lori Chase
May 19, 2011

The Port Allegany boys and Northern Potter girls made it a clean sweep of the North Tier season, with both unbeaten teams capturing last week’s league meet at Otto-Eldred. Led by Nick Conway’s double in the hurdles – including a new meet (and school) record in the 110 – and a sweep in the high jump, the Gators eased to a 10-point win over second-place Coudersport. Tyce Miller (400), Trevor Neal (high jump), and Camrin Stuckey (javelin) were other individual victors, with Stuckey’s throw of 174-0 tying the 29-year-old NTL mark held by Port’s Ron Andreano. Sheffield’s Kalil Slaughter blazed to a new record in the 100, and added wins in the 200 and 400 relay.

Rebecca Warriner quadrupled (100, 200, 400, 1600 relay), Taryn Bennett tripled (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 1600 relay), and Clarissa Knauer broke the meet record in the discus to lead the NoPo girls to a comfortable 144-98 margin over runner-up Port Allegany. The Gators’ 400-meter relay team of Bryanna Evens, Brianna Foster, Kelsey Payne, and Sara Borro tuned up for Friday’s upcoming District IX meet with a win, and Payne (triple jump) and Renee Edgell (shot put) added individual league titles.

North Tier League Meet
At Duke Center, May 13-14:
Boys: Port Allegany 116, Coudersport 106, Sheffield 89, Oswayo Valley 86, Northern Potter 59, Smethport 46, Otto-Eldred 33, Cameron County 12.

100: Kalil Slaughter (Sh) :11.12*, 200: Slaughter (Sh) :23.24, 400: Tyce Miller (PA) :55.74, 800: Trevor Howard (OV) 2:06.21, 1600: Barrett Kemp (OV) 4:34.93, 3200: Kemp (OV) 9:44.79, 400 relay: Sheffield (Slaughter, Allen, Torres, Reynolds) :46.33, 1600 relay: Northern Potter (Lehman, Morgan, E. Kibbe, Olney) 3:57.25, 3200 relay: Smethport (Lightner, Alfieri, Groshek, Kreiner) 9:00.89, 110 hurdles: Nick Conway (PA) :15.37*, 300 hurdles: Conway (PA) :42.06, long jump: Slaughter (Sh) 19-7, triple jump: Jason Gibson (C) 39-5, high jump: Trevor Neal (PA) 5-8, shot put: Zac Cumby (C) 44-8, discus: Mitch Freeman (C) 137-0, pole vault: Seth Coscia (O-E) 9-6, javelin: Camrin Stuckey (PA) 174-0*.

Girls: Northern Potter 144, Port Allegany 98, Oswayo Valley 77, Smethport 77, Coudersport 73, Otto-Eldred 53, Cameron County 14.

100: Rebecca Warriner (NP) :13.03, 200: Warriner (NP) :27.37, 400: Warriner (NP) 1:00.29, 800: Tracy Woodring (S) 2:25.38, 1600: Bailey Kemp (OV) 5:38.92, 3200: Morgan Soule (NP) 12:18.90, 400 relay: Port Allegany (Evens, Foster, Payne, Borro) :54.34, 1600 relay: Northern Potter (Warriner, E. Kibbe, Perry, Bennett) 4:30.26, 3200 relay: Smethport (Carlson, Stratton, Smead, Woodring) 10:29.71, 100 hurdles: Taryn Bennett (NP) :18.14, 300 hurdles: Bennett (NP) :52.34, long jump: Brittany Meachem (OV) 14-7, triple jump: Kelsey Payne (PA) 30-7 ½, high jump: Erin Perry (NP) 4-10, shot put: Renee Edgell (PA) 31-0, discus: Clarissa Knauer (NP) 112-2*, pole vault: Katie Smith (O-E) 7-0, javelin: Knauer (NP) 103-9.
* – meet record

District IX Championships – May 20, Kane High School
Port Allegany qualifiers:

Boys: 100: Max Morris; 200: Morris; 400 relay team: Ben Osani, Tyce Miller, Scott Brookens, Trevor Neal; 110 hurdles: Nick Conway; 300 hurdles: Conway; long jump: Morris, Camrin Stuckey; triple jump: Osani; high jump: Conway, Miller, Neal; shot put: Seth Lowery, Brock Taylor; discus: Taylor; javelin: Stuckey.

Girls: 100: Bryanna Evens; 200: Evens, Jillian Edgreen; 400: Evens, Krista Miller; 800: Miller; 400 relay team: Edgreen, Brianna Foster, Kelsey Payne, Sara Borro; triple jump: Payne; high jump: Payne; shot put: Renee Edgell.

Track/field: Another NTL title for Gator boys

Four consecutive North Tier League championships.

Thirty-two dual meets without a loss.

In other words, business as usual for the Port Allegany boys track team, which survived a minor scare at Coudersport last Thursday before clinching another NTL title against Otto-Eldred on Tuesday to finish the regular season at 7-0.

“I did expect it to be close. Not that close,” head coach George Riley said following Port’s 78-72 win against the Falcons. “The 4×800 relay team set the tone for the meet; I guess I didn’t expect them to grab that, but James Coxen pulled it out at the end. That team did the job, went and got us a quick five points early.”

Max Morris tripled in the 100, 200, and 400 relay, Tyce Miller led a sweep in the high jump in addition to claiming the 400 and 800, and Nick Conway continued to dominate both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles to pace the Gator victory. Kory Majot (pole vault, javelin) and Mitch Freeman (shot, discus) doubled for the Falcons.

“The boys came through,” Riley said. “It was close. Hats off to Coudersport – they gave us a serious scare.”

Bryanna Evens (400, 400 relay, 1600 relay) and Kelsey Payne (100 hurdles, 400 relay, high jump) tripled and Renee Edgell added wins in the shot and discus as the Gator girls downed the Falcons, 80.5-69.5, to complete their dual-meet schedule at 6-1. Jenn Kane (100, 200) and Natalie Giannotti (1600, 3200) doubled for Coudersport.

Both teams turned in positive performances at Friday’s Coudersport Invitational, with the boys cruising to a comfortable win and the girls coming in third behind meet champ Northern Potter and Oswayo Valley. The news wasn’t all good, though, as Morris pulled a hamstring in the 100 and was forced to drop out of the rest of his events.

“I’m hoping he’s healed and back by districts. We’re giving him two weeks to rest; hopefully it works out,” Riley said.

With Conway – fresh off running a meet-record :16.42 in the 110 hurdles – joining Ben Osani, Trevor Neal, and Scott Brookens as a last-second replacement, the Gator 400-meter relay team didn’t miss a beat, crossing the line in a season-best :46.47 for the win. Neal also claimed the high jump at 6-0 in a tiebreaker over Conway, who added a victory in the 300 hurdles, and Camrin Stuckey (long jump, 19-7) and Seth Lowery (shot put, 44-6) also notched wins in their specialties.

Payne doubled in the high jump and 400 relay for the Gator girls, with the team of Jillian Edgreen, Breanna Foster, Payne, and Sara Borro winning in :55.65. Carli Johnston and Jordan Edgell tied for first in the pole vault, clearing the bar at 7-0, and Renee Edgell qualified for districts with a winning shot put of 31-0 ½.

“Kelsey had a great day. She’s excelling at her events,” Riley said.

For one of the first times all season, the weather was gorgeous for Tuesday’s final home meet of the year, with both Gator teams easing to wins against overmatched Otto-Eldred.

“Their numbers are down,” Riley said of the Terrors’ small squad. “They have some quality athletes who pushed us in a couple of races, but we have the numbers.”

Miller quadrupled (400, 800, 1600 relay, high jump), Stuckey tripled (1600 relay, long jump, javelin), and Conway (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles) and Brock Taylor (shot, discus) doubled in the boys’ 122-28 win, with Noah Jordan doubling in the 1600 and 3200 for O-E.

As usual, the Gators ruled the high jump with yet another sweep.

“We have three guys who can go six feet and better. There aren’t too many teams who have that luxury,” Riley said. “They work hard, and they compete against each other. Conway might get it one time; the next, Tyce Miller or Trevor Neal’s got it. So you never know who’s going to be the top one, but it’s nice to know you’re going to take those three spots.”

The girls swept all 11 running events on the way to a 121-29 victory, with Evens (100, 200, 400, 1600 relay) and Payne (100 hurdles, 400 relay, high jump, triple jump) quadrupling and Ashley Woodruff doubling (1600, 3200).

Friday’s North Tier League meet at Otto-Eldred is next on the schedule. Riley expects both teams to do well, but noted that with the school musical also taking place the same evening, several students will be pulling double duty on the track and the stage.

“It’s a small school where we have people involved in lots of things. We don’t need the league meet to clinch or claim anything, so get the kid an event or two, then go and perform for the community. It’s a good opportunity for the kids,” he said.

At Coudersport, May 5:
Boys: Port Allegany 78, Coudersport 72
100: Morris (PA) :11.7, 200: Morris (PA) :23.6, 400: Miller (PA) :55.8, 800: Miller (PA) 2:16.6, 1600: B. Forney (C) 5:24.6, 3200: S. Forney (C) 11:24, 400 relay: Port Allegany (Morris, Osani, Brookens, Neal) :47.0, 1600 relay: Coudersport (Hutcheson, Rigas, Furman, Gibson) 3:57.5, 3200 relay: Port Allegany (Stehle, A. Majot, Binder, Coxen) 9:36.2, 110 hurdles: Conway (PA) :15.6, 300 hurdles: Conway (PA) :41.4, long jump: Morris (PA) 19-5, triple jump: Hutcheson (C)/Osani (PA) 37-4, high jump: Miller (PA) 6-0, shot put: Freeman (C) 43-5 ½, discus: Freeman (C) 137-0 ¾, pole vault: K. Majot (C) 10-6, javelin: K. Majot (C) 155-1.

Girls: Port Allegany 80.5, Coudersport 69.5
100: Kane (C) :13.5, 200: Kane (C) :28.2, 400: Evens (PA) 1:06.7, 800: Matzinger (C) 2:37, 1600: Giannotti (C) 6:04.8, 3200: Giannotti (C) 14:00.8, 400 relay: Port Allegany (Borro, Payne, Evens, Foster) :54.7, 1600 relay: Port Allegany (Edgreen, Miller, Foster, Evens) 4:39.7, 3200 relay: Coudersport (Kautz, Johns, Green, Matzinger) 11:34.2, 100 hurdles: Payne (PA) :18.9, 300 hurdles: Fink (C) :53.7, long jump: Culver (PA) 13-1, triple jump: Gabreski (C) 32-7 ½, high jump: Payne (PA) 4-10, shot put: R. Edgell (PA) 31-1 ½, discus: R. Edgell (PA) 79-10, pole vault: J. Edgell (PA) 7-6, javelin: Karpinski (C) 90-6 ½.

Coudersport Invitational, May 6:
Boys: Port Allegany 108, Oswayo Valley 79, Coudersport 77, Eisenhower 70.5, Smethport 66.5, Northern Potter 61, Cowanesque Valley 49, Otto-Eldred 17, Williamson 15, Cameron County 14.

Girls: Northern Potter 124, Oswayo Valley 115, Port Allegany 77, Coudersport 73.5, Otto-Eldred 39.5, Eisenhower 39.5, Smethport 38.5, Cameron County 24, Cowanesque Valley 12, Williamson 7.

At Port Allegany, May 10:
Boys: Port Allegany 122, Otto-Eldred 28
100: Neal (PA) :12.0, 200: Kittilson (PA) :25.9, 400: Miller (PA) :55.4, 800: Miller (PA) 2:25.2, 1600: Jordan (O-E) 4:56.2, 3200: Jordan (O-E) 12:00, 400 relay: Port Allegany (Austin, Osani, Brookens, Neal) :47.0, 1600 relay: Port Allegany (Collver, Miller, Stuckey, Shaffer) 3:57.1, 3200 relay: Port Allegany (Majot, Stehle, Coxen, Binder) 9:43.7, 110 hurdles: Conway (PA) :15.4, 300 hurdles: Conway (PA) :41.2, long jump: Stuckey (PA) 18-10, triple jump: Osani (PA) 37-1, high jump: Miller (PA) 5-11, shot put: Taylor (PA) 38-9, discus: Taylor (PA) 126-8, pole vault: Farmelo (O-E) 10-0, javelin: Stuckey (PA) 169-6.

Girls: Port Allegany 121, Otto-Eldred 29
100: Evens (PA) :13.5, 200: Evens (PA) :27.8, 400: Evens (PA) 1:03.6, 800: K. Miller (PA) 2:41.3, 1600: Woodruff (PA) 6:21.6, 3200: Woodruff (PA) 15:12.3, 400 relay: Port Allegany (Borro, Payne, Foster, Edgreen) :54.6, 1600 relay: Port Allegany (Evens, Ford, Helo, Foster) 5:25.4, 3200 relay: Port Allegany (Armendariz, Rosenswie, Helo, Naylor) 13:24.4, 100 hurdles: Payne (PA) :18.72, 300 hurdles: Young (PA) :57.1, long jump: Hahn (O-E) 13-8 ½, triple jump: Payne (PA) 31-3, high jump: Payne (PA) 4-8, shot put: R. Edgell (PA) 30-1, discus: Franklin (O-E) 70-7, pole vault: J. Edgell (PA) 7-6, javelin: Healy (PA) 83-7.

Baseball: Getting back into the swing of things

With the weather finally beginning to cooperate – although not without a few more raindrops and grumbles of thunder – the Port Allegany baseball team went 3-1 in a pair of doubleheaders last week, splitting with Kane on Thursday and sweeping Otto-Eldred on Saturday to improve to 5-2 on the season.

But after almost three full weeks since their last game, the Gators struggled to get back into the swing of things when they finally got back on the field in Kane, dropping a 3-2 decision in the opener before rebounding to take the nightcap 11-2.

“Give credit to Kane for making us pay, but we didn’t play well. We didn’t deserve to win,” coach Nate Zitnik said of the first game, when Port stranded several baserunners and the three Wolves runners who scored got on base via a walk, an error, and a hit batsman.

Scoring wasn’t a problem in the second game, when Rickie Bova’s solo home run and doubles by Seth Lowery, Camrin Stuckey, Sam Kysor and Garrett Drabert highlighted an 11-run outburst.

“Rickie busted out. He roped that one; it was a great hit,” Zitnik said. “Everyone contributed. I couldn’t be any happier with that stat line.”

In Saturday morning’s first game, the Gator bats were sluggish again, but Stuckey homered to lead off the second inning and combined with starter Garrett Drabert on a one-hit shutout to give the Gators the 1-0 win over Otto-Eldred.

“Stuke’s been on fire lately. He did almost kill me – he hit a laser right out at me (in the third-base coaches’ box), so now every time he’s been up to bat, I’ve been coaching from the other team’s dugout,” Zitnik noted with a grin. “But he’s been hitting really well. He came in and shut the door pitching-wise, and gave us our only run with that home run. We got off to a slow start; we put the ball in play, but they made plays. We were lucky to get out with a win there.”

First, though, Port had to withstand a bases-loaded threat from the Terrors.

“Cory Burr, who hasn’t played that much – he was filling in for Charlie Buchanan, who was taking his SATs – makes a diving play in the gap and flips to second to Sam to really save that game for us. So while it’s not exactly how I wanted it, there were some bright spots, too. I would be remiss to not acknowledge that we did some good things,” Zitnik said.

Zach Sigafoes drove in four runs and Sam Kysor added three in the second game, as Port completed the sweep with a 7-4 win.

“I do have to credit the guys in the second game,” Zitnik said. “Seth got himself in the groove and scored runs for us, Sam had a good game with multiple hits, and Stuckey stayed hot. But the surprise for us was Zach Sigafoes, with the clutch RBIs that put us ahead.”

But while he was happy to get out with the wins, Zitnik knows there’s plenty of work to do if his team wants to make a deep postseason run.

“It’s almost like we’re starting all over again, which is difficult with the playoffs just around the corner,” he said.

At Kane, May 5:
Port A 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 2 4 1
Kane 2 0 0 1 0 0 x — 3 3 3
Kyle Hildebrandt (3 SO, 2 BB), Camrin Stuckey (4) (1 SO, 0 BB) and Zach Sigafoes
Evan Depto (2 SO, 2 BB), Dave Swanson (4) (2 SO, 0 BB) and Jordan Kumher

Kane 0 1 0 1 0 — 2 2 1
Port A 2 9 0 0 x – 11 9 1
Swanson, Mitch Kumher (2), Matt Flickinger (2), Dan Park (3) (3 SO, 7 BB), and J. Kumher
Stuckey (3 SO, 1 BB), Garrett Drabert (3) (4 SO, 1 BB) and Sigafoes
HR: Bova (PA)

At Port Allegany, May 7:
Port Allegany 0 1 0 0 0 – 1 3 0
Otto-Eldred 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 1 1
Drabert (5 SO, 3 BB), Stuckey (4) (4 SO) and Sigafoes
Clay Pinner (2 SO) and Noah Colebert
HR: Stuckey (PA)

Otto-Eldred 2 2 0 0 0 – 4 4 2
Port Allegany 3 0 2 2 x – 7 6 1
Ryan Jeannerette (1 SO, 1 BB), Craig Halstead (4) (3 BB), Sam Colebert (4) and Pinner
Stuckey (1 SO, 1 BB), Hildebrandt (2) (3 SO, 1 BB), Sam Kysor (5) (2 SO, 1 BB) and Sigafoes