Jersey Shore High School falls to Williamsport on the road, 3-0

WILLIAMSPORT — The Williamsport offense has generated headlines all season. Hitting a collective .309 and smashing a district-best 16 home runs provides that justification.

As the offense has piled up big numbers, the pitching staff has flown under the radar despite its success. That changed Wednesday at Logue Field.

Those pitchers gave Williamsport something else to talk about.

Jonathan Zayas, Kyle Caringi, Tanner Esposito and Cody Shimp combined on a 4-hit shutout and Williamsport blanked Jersey Shore, 3-0. Zayas took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, allowed just two hits in 4 2/3 innings and Shimp earned the save, working a perfect seventh. Oh yeah, Quentin Brown continued his tremendous season and hit a 2-run home run, his seventh this season. Still, the pitchers owned this day.

“I trust every pitcher we have,” Zayas said. “Our pitching staff is really strong this year. I feel like it’s better than ever.”

Williamsport (10-5) has won nine of its last 10 games and in those victories, the pitchers have surrendered just 14 runs. Collectively, the staff has a 1.85 earned run average and is averaging well above one strikeout per inning.

Zayas is the youngest member of that staff, but the sophomore showed his promise again yesterday. The tall left-hander overpowered Jersey Shore, striking out four and retiring the side in order in three of the first four innings. Zayas has come a long way from his freshman season and has been dominant in his last two extended outings, allowing no runs and just three hits, while striking out nine.

Even Brandon DePasqua opening the fifth inning by lining a wicked liner off his ankle for Jersey Shore’s first hit could not slow Zayas. Showing he is tough and talented, Zayas stayed in the game and recorded two more outs. Caringi then entered and induced a flyout to leave the bases loaded in a one-run game.

“It happened in a blink. It was crazy. I wanted to stay in and finish the inning and I wanted to do everything I can,” Zayas said. “I really appreciate all the opportunities I can get for varsity. Any time I can pitch I want to make every moment count.”

“He’s a tough kid. He wasn’t afraid,” Williamsport coach Kyle Schneider said. “He needed a game that challenged him and this game challenged him. He had some guys on base that he might not have been used to facing and he had some hitters that were challenging deep into counts and that’s the kind of stuff he has to face if he’s going to play a big role for us next year. He did a great job. It lets him know he belongs here and that he can hang. He works really hard and that’s the reason he has excelled the way he has.”

Jersey Shore (11-4) had its chances in this showdown between the HAC-I and Central Penn League champions. The Bulldogs loaded the bases in the fifth and sixth innings but Caringi and Esposito left them there. Jersey Shore also suffered two bad baserunning blunders, including one that ended a second-inning threat after it put the first two runners on in a scoreless game.

Colby Willits delivered two hits, but the Williamsport’s pitchers denied Jersey Shore that elusive game-changing hit. The Bulldogs did make improvement from Monday’s 8-1 loss to Montoursville, cutting down their strikeouts, hitting some balls hard and working deeper counts.

“We put better at-bats together and saw the zone a little bit better. We just have to focus a little better and make some better judgment plays,” Jersey Shore coach Mike English said. “Our approaches are getting better and we’re pretty happy about that. What we’ve been focusing on after Montoursville was positive at-bats and good plate discipline and we had that tonight. It just didn’t happen when we needed it to happen.”

Brown keeps making it happen. The senior center fielder is having one of the best seasons in recent area history and turned on a 3-2 curveball in the fifth inning, belting a 2-run home run over the right-field fence to make it 3-0 a batter after Caleb Joy hit a lead-off double. Brown has homered in four of his last five games and in seven of Williamsport’s 15 games. He also is hitting .551 with 22 RBIs, batting out of the lead-off position.

After hitting .400 last season and helping Williamsport capture its first district championship since 2011, Brown went right back to work. He is a talented five-tool player.