Shutout win versus Loyalsock sends Keystone to Ditstrict Championship

By SHAREIK FLOWERS

sflowers@lockhaven.com

COGAN STATION- Following the pregame warmups Keystone Manager Brad Mahoney didn’t know what to expect from his team.

The youngsters were uncharacteristically sidetracked prior to the first pitch. They committed errors and had issues catching the ball.

“They were doing some things we certainly shouldn’t be doing coming to the end of districts,” Mahoney said. “But they certainly flipped the switch.”

Keystone transformed back into its colossal self once the game began. The All Stars slapped eight hits en route to a shutout 10-0 victory against Loyalsock in the winners’ bracket final. The victory sent Keystone to Friday’s District 12 Championship.

“The bats were working,” Mahoney said of the win. “We struggled a little bit on the mound early, but they came around, and we didn’t have any errors. It was a great overall-team win.”

Winning pitcher Hart Fletcher shined on both sides of the ball. He threw five strikeouts in three scoreless innings on the mound. At the plate he recorded a Keystone-high two hits, with one being a two-run moonshot to extend Keystone’s lead, 6-0.

“At the beginning my breaker wasn’t really breaking as good as it normally is, but at the end I started to get used to the mound,” Fletcher explained of his pitching. “And my defense was working [behind me] as well.”

Relief pitcher Guage Laughner closed the game for Keystone. He fanned three batters and didn’t allow a base runner in two scoreless innings.

“Guage has really come on for us,” Mahoney said. “And he’ll get some more innings as we keep going. He’s done fantastic so far.”

Keystone produced the bulk of its scoring with a three hit, six-run frenzy in the second. Back-to-back singles from Eli Bailey and Guage Laughner, followed by a Loyalsock fielding error, led to Keystone’s first run of the game. Jase Seltzer soon smacked a two-run run single, before Cole Bailey supplied an RBI to advance Keystone’s lead, 4-0. Hart Fletcher completed the inning’s scoring when he cracked a two-run home run to extend Keystone’s lead, 6-0.

“That was a fantastic home run there,” Mahoney said.

Despite the high pitch Fletcher connected and launched the ball off the pavilion behind the center field fence.

“To be honest I don’t even know how I caught up to the pitch, it was pretty high,” Fletcher explained. “But as soon as I hit it, it felt pretty good. And the best part was when I got to home plate and my teammates were mobbing me.”

Keystone added an insurance run in the fourth when Donevan Syler supplied an RBI single, which extended the lead, 7-0. Keystone added a trio of runs in the fifth following a score off a Loyalsock error, and Jake Weaver’s two-run single.

Guage Laughner made a relief appearance in the bottom of the fourth inning, and eliminated Loyalsock’s hopes for a comeback. He threw three strikeouts in two scoreless innings to secure the 10-0, five-inning win against Loyalsock.

Laughner was Keystone’s closing pitcher for the second consecutive game. In three innings versus South and Loyalsock he’s struckout six batters, and hasn’t allowed a base runner against the nine hitters he’s faced.

“It’s just kind of how it’s worked out, it isn’t pre-determined or anything,” Mahoney said of Laughner closing games. “He’s just happened to be in that role twice.”

The win advanced Keystone’s postseason record to 3-0. They’ve outscored their opponents 45-6 as they’ve rolled through the district competition.

They have three preparation days now before Friday’s District 12 Championship against an opponent soon to be determined.

“To win that game it’s going to take what we did tonight,” Keystone pitcher Hart Fletcher said. “Which is no errors, good defense and hitting the ball.”

Keystone 10, Loyalsock 0

Keystone: 060 13–10 8 0

Loyalsock:000 00–0 3 0

WP: Hart Fletcher

LP: Chase Miller

Top Hitters:

Keystone: Hart Fletcher 2-3, HR, 2 RBIs; Jake Weaver 2-3, 2 RBIs; Jase Seltzer 1-2, 2 RBIs.

Loyalsock: Jake Baylor 1-1.

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