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Jacob Corson, Clayton Poust come up big defensively in sixth to lift Hughesville over Central Mountain in summer league baseball game

MILL HALL — Jacob Corson sometimes becomes so locked in when pitching that everything else around him fades away.

But when the Hughesville graduate fielded a sixth-inning grounder, he immediately understood the situation. Shortstop Clayton Poust would not let him forget and, together, those two made the game’s biggest play Monday at Mill Hill Community Park.

Corson and Poust combined on an outstanding sixth-inning double play which instantly ended what could have been a game-tying threat or something more. The defense protected that two-run lead which Hughesville had built a half inning earlier and Corson took it from there, retiring the side on seven pitches in the seventh as Hughesville defeated Central Mountain, 5-2, while taking sole possession of first place in the four-team summer league.

Corson threw a gutsy six-hit complete game, Poust hit a go-ahead two-run single and Hughesville delivered an all-around strong performance while overcoming a one-run, sixth-inning deficit to avenge its only loss. Hughesville won its third straight, improved to 8-1 and leads Central Mountain by a game with Round IV between these teams coming in 10 days.

“Clayton did a good job. Sometimes when I get on the mound I kind of zone in and forget about my surroundings so right away he said, ‘two, two, two!’ and then he made a heck of a turn and a good throw around the bag and got him by a step,” Corson said. “That was a great play by him.”

Hughesville and Central Mountain split two one-run games in their previous encounters and the winning team rallied late in the game each time. So Hughesville could not help but feel concerned when Central Mountain immediately tried responding to its three-run rally. Kaden Falls and Cayde McCloskey opened the inning with singles before Corson induced a fielder’s choice. A few pitches later, Corson fielded a ground ball to the right of the mound. Falls started to break for home, but Corson heard Poust’s voice and threw a rocket which hit Poust chest-high. Poust then brilliantly avoided the slide into second and made a perfect throw to first baseman Devin Maciejewski, ending the rally and breathing further life into an already determined Corson.

Hughesville added another run in the seventh inning and Corson looked his strongest in the seventh. He needed just seven pitches to end the game, closing it out with his sixth strikeout.

“I think that kind of broke their backs. They had runners in scoring position and if one is hit in the gap it’s going to score a few. For me it was the big lift I needed,” Corson said. “I was starting to get up there in pitches and didn’t know if I was going to keep going. For me to get the two outs and take the scoring chances away, that was huge for us.”

Corson had come up huge for Hughesville the previous three seasons before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out his senior campaign. While Corson and his teammates cannot get that season back, they played in an intense, high school-like atmosphere yesterday and the Bucknell-bound infielder was outstanding. Corson will not pitch for Bucknell but he showed quite an arsenal yesterday, skillfully mixing his pitches, keeping Central Mountain off-balance and complementing all that with bulldog-like toughness.

Corson did not allow an earned run with Central Mountain taking advantage of three fourth-inning errors to take a 2-1 lead. Corson maintained his composure that inning and limited the damage, striking out the next two batters and throwing out a runner at third. He also struck out two straight hitters with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning and was at his best at the most crucial times.

“Knowing him as a competitor and what Bucknell is getting, I knew he was going to be tough. I texted him last night and asked him if he could pitch and he said, ‘of course I can pitch.’ It wasn’t even a question,” Hughesville coach Chris Kish said.” He was laser-focused the whole time. That was just him bearing down out there. He was incredible.”

“Central Mountain is a very good team. They have a lot of talent over there and a lot of really good baseball players,” Corson said. “This is the one I wanted. I wanted to be out there and I had great defense behind me. It was definitely a lot of fun tonight battling with those guys.”

Hughesville had a lot of fun in the top of the sixth when it mounted its go-ahead rally. Seton Hall-bound pitcher Zane Probst was strong in three innings of relief and struck out seven, but after striking out five times the previous two innings, Hughesville came alive against one of the area’s top pitchers.

Corson ripped a lead-off single and surging Brandon Derrick did the same, both advancing into scoring position on an error. Poust then drilled a hard-hit grounder which took a big hop and scored both, giving Hughesville a 3-2 lead.

Hughesville then expertly executed the little things to create two final big runs. Brenden King dropped a perfectly-placed squeeze bunt to score Poust from third and cap the sixth-inning rally. An inning later, Ian Gagliano hit a lead-off triple and scored when Devin Swank put a bunt in nearly the same place as King, easily scoring Gagliano and making it, 5-2.

“Today was one of those games where you feel really good,” Kish said. “What we hammered at practice was safety squeeze stuff and we executed it twice. Practice matters and if you come to practice and you dedicate your time, good things happen.”

Sophomore-to-be Gabe Johnson threw three solid innings for Central Mountain to open the game and six different players produced hits. Swank, Poust and Gagliano produced two hits each for Hughesville and Gagliano continued providing big-time production from the bottom of the lineup, going 2 for 3 with a double and triple. His third-inning double and some aggressive baserunning scored Chance Webb from first and gave Hughesville a 1-0 lead.

“They are a really good baseball team,” Corson said. “We knew we really had to go out and execute if we were going to get it done and we were able to do that.”

Hughesville 001 003 1-5 9 3

C. Mountain 000 200 0-2 6 2

Jacob Corson and Jediah Webb. Gabe Johnson, Zane Probst (4), Kaden Falls (7) and Kelvin Probst, Nate Helms (7).

Top Hughesville hitters: Devin Swank 2-3, RBI, SB; Corson 1-3, run; Brandon Derrick 1-2, run; Clayton Poust 2-3, 2 RBIs, 2 run, 2 SB; Brenden King 1-2, RBI, SB; Ian Gagliano 2-3, 3B, 2B, run. Top Central Mountain hitters: Rocco Stark 1-2; Falls 1-2, Brayden Courter 1-1; Cayde McCloskey 1-2; Cy Probst 1-2; Johnson 1-2.

Records: Hughesville (8-1), Central Mountain (7-2).

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