Central Mountain tops Hughesville in baseball at Mill Hall, 6-5
MILL HALL – Neither team will receive a gold medal upon the summer league’s conclusion. Neither team will hang a championship banner later this year.
But do not tell Central Mountain or Hughesville summer league players that these games are any less important than the high school contests they would have played last spring before their seasons were erased by the COVID-19 Pandemic. As long as score is being kept both teams desperately want to win because they are fierce competitors and they want to remind others what might have been last spring.
Maybe it is fitting then that both now share first-place honors.
Kaden Falls hit a game-tying two-run double, Peyton Johnson followed with the go-ahead sacrifice fly and right fielder Dallas Alexander made a brilliant, game-ending catch as Central Mountain scored four fifth-inning runs and defeated Hughesville, 6-5, Thursday afternoon at Mill Hall Community Park. Central Mountain avenged a one-run loss against Hughesville from last week and handed it its first defeat. Hughesville played a second game, defeating Warrior Run, 15-7, and both it and Central Mountain are 5-1.
“I know we’ve talked about it being kind of like a summer, relaxed league but no matter what you say to the kids they have that chip on their shoulder and are ready to grind and win,” Central Mountain coach John Herman said. “The way they faced adversity and came back, those are the the types of kids you definitely like to coach. They make you proud.”
Hughesville has been making its coaches proud throughout the summer and looked like it might remain undefeated when it scored three fourth-inning runs and took a 5-1 lead. Instead, Central Mountain scored a run in the fourth before erupting for four in the fifth while taking its first lead. Alexander earned the win after pitching a scoreless fifth inning and sealed the victory when he dove and caught a Hunter Wentzel sinking line drive which would have scored Jacob Corson from second and tied the game. Because the second game was scheduled for 6 p.m., the sixth inning was the final one, as it was the previous time Hughesville and Central Mountain played.
“It felt good because last game it was the same situation. It was a close game with good pitching and solid hitting on both sides, but they came out on top the first time,” Falls said. “Losing by one run last week just kind of gave us the extra drive to go out and get the win.”
“Most of the kids say their drive is to win,” Herman said. “They approach it just like it was a high school game.”
So Central Mountain did not flinch when Hughesville went up, 5-1. Alexander hit a fourth-inning RBI single and Central Mountain pulled within a run following two hit batters and two walks, Chase Brush making it 5-3 with his bases-loaded walk.
That set the stage for Falls who worked a hitter’s count after going up 2-0 and 3-1. He then slammed a double to deep left field for a ground-rule double which tied it, 5-5. Had the ball not gone over the fence Falls would have scored all three runners. Johnson, though, came through in the clutch as well a batter later, scoring Brush with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Falls closed it out in the sixth, retiring the first two batters he faced and working around a two-out walk while receiving a huge assist from Alexander in right field on the final play.
“The whole team has developed. We’re all starting to play as one,” Falls said. “At the beginning of the season it was looking a little rough, but we got it all figured out.”
Hughesville never trailed until the fifth inning, going up 2-0 in the second when Ian Gagliano walked, Jackson Bower singled and Devin Swank hit a two-run double. Alexander doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the inning, but Hughesville scored three times in the fourth and went up, 5-1.
The bottom of the order again fueled the rally with Chance Webb hitting a one-out single and moving to third on Gagliano’s double. Bower hit a sacrifice fly, Devin Maciejewski drilled an RBI single and Corson added an RBI grounder as Hughesville took a 5-1 lead.
Central Mountain was down, but not out and came fighting back. It was a good win, not just for the 2020 seniors who graduated without having a spring season, but also the returning players who will now have some valuable experience entering 2021.
Central Mountain is enjoying winning, but it also likes what these games could do for it next spring. They might not mean much now, but these experiences could pay big dividends when high school baseball returns.
“Next year, our first game of the year we’ll be aiming for district championship game,” Falls said. “Our expectations will be high for the underclassmen because of what this summer has become. It will be a good season next year.”
And it’s a good summer right now.
Central Mountain 6, Hughesville 5
Hughesville 020 300-5 7 1
C. Mountain 010 14x-6 4 0
Trent Knarr, Devin Swank (3), Jacob Corson (5), Chance Webb (5) and Chase Bremigen. Gabe Johnson, Brody Miller (3), Dallas Alexander (5), Kaden Falls (6) and Kelvin Probst. W-Alexander. L-Swank. SV-Falls.
Top Hughesville hitters: Swank 2-3, 2B, 2 RBIs, R; Devin Maciejewski 1-1, RBI, 2 BB; Corson 1-2, BB, RBI, SB; Webb 1-3, R; Ian Gagliano 1-1, 2B, 2 R, BB; Jackson Bower 1-2, RBI, R. Top Central Mountain hitters: Alexander 2-3, 2B, RBI; Falls 1-2, 2B, 2 RBIs, BB, SB; Probst 1-2; Peyton Johnson, RBI, R.