Keystone (Majors) wins District 12 crown with 6-0 win versus Loyalsock

By SHAREIK FLOWERS

sflowers@Lockhaven.com

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT- Winning titles is Keystone’s holiest tradition.

After the 9-11 year-old squad captured a District crown Friday night, the Majors team replicated their performance as Keystone shutout Loyalsock, 6-0, to win the District 12 Championship. The game was the second meeting between the two teams this season, as Keystone combined to out-score Loyalsock, 16-0, in both contests.

“To be the [Majors] champ, and fall in the Keystone name is huge,” manager Brad Mahoney said. “There’s been a lot of teams who were here before us, but we’re happy that we can do the same and continue the tradition.”

Hart Fletcher continues to be the team’s primary pitcher, as the youngster picked up the win on the mound. Fletcher fanned 10 batters in five scoreless innings, before Guage Laughner closed the game in the sixth.

Keystone’s surrounding defense was sharp. They managed a double play to close the first inning, and reliever Guage Laughner struck out Jacob Baylor to escape a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth.

“Hart’s a very difficult pitcher who pitched great today,” Mahoney said. “Then Guage came in, he struggled a bit but he finished it out. And there was the one simple error, but we overcame it. “

Keystone out-hit Loyalsock, 10-5, during the afternoon. Griffin Kerstetter and Eli Bailey tied for a game-high two hits, as Bailey’s first hit was an RBI single to give Keystone a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Loyalsock loaded runners on the corners, with two outs in the bottom of the frame, but Fletcher’s curve ball struckout Jacob Baylor to end the inning.

Keystone added another pair of runs in the third. Pinch-hitter Bryce Brungard smacked an RBI triple for a score, which set up Hart Fletcher’s RBI double to extend the lead, 3-0.

Three insurance runs in the fourth distanced the game for Keystone as they ripped four consecutive hits to begin the inning. After a single and double from Zach St. Clair and Eli Bailey, Donevan Seyler smacked a two-run single to extend Keystone’s lead, 5-0.

Keystone’s substitutes played pivotal roles in the title game, as three of their four pinch hitters (Zach St. Clair, Bryce Brungard and Donevan Seyler) recorded hits in the game. The quality hitting speaks volumes of the roster’s depth.

“It’s great that we have 13 kids who can hit the ball,” Mahoney said. “The pinch-hitters did their job, and hopefully they continue to do so. It’s hard to come off the bench and swing the bat sometimes, but they did great.”

Guage Laughner scored a third run in the fourth, off a wild pitch, to extend Keystone’s advantage, 6-0. The comfortable lead eased Keystone’s nerves, as Hart Fletcher struckout out the side in the fifth.

Gauge Laughner closed the game in the sixth. Laughner surrendered a hit, and loaded the bases, before throwing a two-out strikeout which handed Keystone the district crown, 6-0.

“It feels amazing,” Mahoney said of the win. “We’ve worked three-plus weeks straight, so it’s nice the hard work’s finally paid off. The kids earned it, and deserved it, and now we’re looking forward to the next round.”

Keystone returns Saturday in Selinsgrove against the District 15 champion. With six days to prepare they plan to reach into its rotation to utilize more pitchers.

“We’re going to work on our pitching, because in order to get through as you move up you’re playing ever day, so you need more pitchers,” Mahoney explained. “So we’re looking to get some other guys into the mix.”

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