WILLIAMSPORT - It happens often in baseball, especially in Little League Baseball.
One team jumps out to a big lead. A brief lull, then an answer by the other.
Yesterday, a prime example. Loyalsock opened with a 6-0 lead after three innings, only to see Keystone answer with three in its half of the fourth.
Keystones’s Seth Andrus lays out for a fly ball against Loyalsock yesterday in Old Lycoming. Keystone lost 10-3.
With momentum sitting right next to Keystone manager Jim Corl in the dugout, Hunter Webb made sure it didn't stay there too long.
The big center fielder unloaded on a Jake Conklin offering, and drove it well beyond the fence in center to start off the home half of the fourth. It was all Loyalsock from there, tacking on three runs in the fifth en route to a 10-3 victory over Keystone at Old Lycoming last night in the District 12 Major baseball winner's semifinals.
Loyalsock (3-0) advances to the winner's bracket final Friday to take on Hepburn-Lycoming in Montgomery. Keystone drops into the elimination bracket, and a Saturday matchup against an opponent to be determined at South.
That's all Loyalsock needed to get back on track.
"When you give up the three runs, the game goes back to 6-3 and you are a little concerned," Loyalsock manager Mike Salvatori said. "And then, Hunter starts that next inning with a home run. You can't say how big that was.
"We talked about the big inning before the game. In the past, we've tended to have the big inning where one or two bad things happen, and things seem to fall apart. We had a little rough spot in the fourth there, and we were able to overcome it."
Keystone (2-1), though, couldn't overcome a sluggish start in the first.
Two infield errors gave the Lycoming County boys too many extra outs, and it came back to haunt the locals.
Back-to-back RBIs by Logan Edmonds and Eric Holz, coupled by a long double by No. 7 hitter Chase Waller gave Loyalsock a 3-0 lead, and the big blow was a two-run single by Peyton Salvatori, boosting the advantage to five runs just one inning in.
"We like to come right out and start quick," coach Salvatori said. "That's the goal every game, to be honest. You always want to put some runs up in the first inning. Right away, right off the bat, you want to start hitting. And tonight, the kids were ready."
The problem was four of the five runs were unearned.
"You can't give a good team like that more than three outs in one inning and expect to win. Good teams come back to hurt you, and that's what happened to us," Corl said.
Now, add to the fact that Edmonds was throwing a gem on the bump.
The starter threw a complete-game seven-hitter with three strikeouts and two walks.
He did a great job of mixing a nice fastball, and a sharp-breaking curve - which kept Keystone batters off-balance.
"That's Eddie," Mike Salvatori said. "He has a little bit of juice on his fastball, and he has such a nice curve. He throws strikes, and has great ability to locate his pitches. That's what makes Eddie such a good pitcher."
Keystone put together a big fourth frame to scrap back in it.
A single to center by Asher Corl, coupled with a Loyalsock error and walk to Aaron Swartz loaded the bases with no outs. Hot-hitting A.J. Smith came to the plate and delivered - drilling a hot shot to right. One run scored, and two more rounded home after the outfielder misplayed the ball. Just like that, Keystone was back in it - only down 6-3.
But with runners on the corners and no outs, Loyalsock's Edmonds got out of it with back-to-back fielder's choices to third and a short pop-up to Chase McNulty at second.
That's not counting the two amazing double plays to end the first and fifth innings.
"We pinch ran for the big horse (Smith) right off the bat there, and that was a mistake on our end," Jim Corl said. "But he threw a lot of pitches in the first inning, and we wanted to get him in the dugout to rest. A.J. threw a nice game. We just didn't play any defense behind him.
"The pitching is something that we see every day. I think the kids were pretty excited. It's the winner's semifinals, and there was a nice crowd. Maybe there were some jitters. We see that pitching in practice, working it in and out. Give Edmonds credit because he threw a nice ballgame. He had our batters off-balance."
Smith was the lone multiple hitter, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Webb was 3-for-4 for Loyalsock, while Nicky Salvatori, Edmonds and Peyton Salvatori each had two hits.
"We are taking it one game at a time," coach Salvatori said. "Hepburn-Lycoming has a nice baseball team, and it's going to be a tough one. But anytime you can beat Keystone, it's a big deal."
Keystone would need to win five straight games to capture a district title.
"It's a tough road," Jim Corl said. "But this game is over, so you get over it in about 30 seconds. That's why they give you two losses. Now, we have to get back after it, and that starts at practice. This was a tough game. We didn't hit or play defense, and that's two parts of the game."
District 12 Major Baseball
Winner's semifinal at Old Lycoming
K 000 300 - 3 7 3
L 501 13x - 10 12 2
K: A.J. Smith, Jake Conklin (3), Aaron Swartz (5) and Asher Corl. L: Logan
Edmonds and Eric Holz. WP - Edmonds. LP - Smith. HR: L, Hunter Webb. 2B: L,
Chase McNulty, Chase Waller. MH: K, Smith 2. L, Webb 3, Nicky Salvatori 2,
Edmonds 2, Peyton Salvatori 2. Records: K 2-1, L 3-0.