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Keystone (Majors) fall to Warrior Run for first defeat of season

(BRETT CROSSLEY/FOR THE EXPRESS) Keystone Gage Laughner throws a pitch against Warrior Run Sunday. Keystone lost the game, 5-3.

By SHAREIK FLOWERS

sflowers@lockhaven.com

SELINSGROVE- Slow starts are becoming an issue for Keystone.

The majors team fell behind 3-0 Saturday before rallying with a 10-3 win against Roosevelt. But Keystone lacked the same magic Sunday as an early 3-0 deficit turned into a 5-3 loss against Warrior Run. The defeat dropped Keystone into today’s losers’ bracket final versus Orwigsburg.

“From the minute we were warming up we didn’t look too good,” Keystone manager Brad Mahoney said. “They didn’t look good all day as a group. We had a whole lot of bad at-bats, and I can’t say a whole lot of positives right now.”

Warrior Run generated the bulk of its scoring in the first frame. Landon Polcyn smacked a three-run home run in the first to grab his team the lead, 3-0.

For the second consecutive afternoon Keystone slipped into a 3-0 drought, as the team is searching for answers to reverse its early-game struggles.

“I don’t have an answer for the slow starts,” Mahoney said. “We’ve been doing the same routines in warm ups, but I just don’t have an answer for it.”

Keystone’s swagger reappeared in the second. Following Caleb Mahoney’s single, Eli Bailey crushed a fly ball that ricocheted off the yellow piping of the center field fence and bounced back into play. After a brief huddle the umpires ruled it a double, rather than a home run, which set up Zach St. Clair’s two-run single to ease Keystone’s deficit, 3-2.

Warrior Run responded with a pair of runs and four hits in the third. Griffen Harrington and Landon Polcyn ripped singles before Cohen Zechman scored Harrington on a fielder’s choice to stretch Warrior Run’s lead, 4-2. Pinch hitter Zamir Reyes soon blooped an RBI single into left field, increasing the lead 5-2. The inning ended once pinch runner James Keifer was drilled in the ankle by a hard-hit groundball for the third out.

Keystone’s inability to produce a crooked number in the fourth may have cost them the game. After loading two runners on bases with no outs, Warrior Run’s Polcyn fanned two consecutive batters. Bryce Brungard was issued a free pass before Isiah Maldonado drew an RBI bases-loaded walk to slash the lead 5-3. But with the bases loaded, and power hitter Jake Weaver at the plate, base runner Zach St. Clair trailed too far off the base and was picked off at third for the inning’s last out.

“That sequence was very disappointing,” Mahoney said. “Our No. 4 hitter (Jake Weaver) was up, their pitcher was throwing a lot of balls and our boy over there just had a mental mistake. He didn’t slide in [and should have].”

Keystone didn’t produce a hit in the final three innings. Polcyn struckout the side in the fifth, but in the sixth the All Stars loaded the bases again to no avail. Warrior Run reliever Chase Knarr forced a bases loaded, two-out ground out to secure his team the win, 5-3.

Keystone’s three runs and five hits were a season-low.

“I give my hats off to Warrior Run’s pitchers,” Mahoney said. “They definitely kept us off balance. We didn’t hit the ball well today.”

One positive Mahoney took away was the pitching. Outside of the first inning Keystone surrendered just two runs an outscored Warrior Run, 3-2, in the final five frames. Starting pitcher Gage Laughner went 4 1/3 innings while Hart Fletcher closed the game with the final two outs in the fifth inning.

“Gage did a phenomenal job,” Mahoney said. “One bad pitch (the three-run home run) shouldn’t define his day. He did a great job and kept us in the game. It’s up to the rest of the team to pick him up and get some hits for him.”

Warrior Run 5, Keystone 3

KEY 020 100-3 5 0

WR 302 00X-5 6 0

Gage Laughner, Hart Fletcher, Jr. (5), and Eli Bailey. Brayden Grower, Landon Polcyn (4), Chase Knarr (6), and Griffin Harrington, Gabe Engel (4).

WP: Grower. LP: Laughner.

Top Keystone hitters: Eli Bailey 1-2, 2B, 2 runs; Zach St. Clair 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI. Top Warrior Run hitters: Griffin Harrington 2-3, run; Landon Polcyn 2-3, HR, 2 runs, 3 RBI.

Records: Keystone 1-1. Warrior Run 2-0.

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