Going from the stretch isn't exactly Ryan Hostrander's favorite way to deliver a pitch, but after Hollidaysburg opened the third inning against Williamsport with two batters reaching on errors, his hand was forced.
And despite being out of his comfort zone, Hostrander bolted from the mound and made a diving catch on a bunt pop-up. Then, after getting to his feet, Hostrander caught the runner at first, who advanced thinking Williamsport's pitcher didn't have a play on the bunt.
Hostrander looked more than comfortable throughout William-sport's opener, tossing a complete game and fanning 10 batters en route to a 5-2 win over Hollidaysburg at Logue field.
"I was surprised by the bunts," Williamsport coach Dave Cipriani said. "Ryan fielded them well and the one time it took them out of a big inning. Ryan responded well off the mound and that took away one of the errors."
Hostrander's double play took some of the sting away from Aaron Burger's RBI single to follow. And once he got the next batter to ground out to second base, the threat of Hollidaysburg cutting into Williamsport's lead was over.
"I'm not sure why, but they kept bunting right back to me," Hostrander said. "On that pop-up I instinctively looked to first and saw Jeremey (Rall) there. That play really got everybody up in the dugout."
In the top of the third inning, with runners on second and third, Hostrander, facing a full-count on the batter, tossed a slow change-up to end the threat. He then followed that inning by fanning the side in the fourth.
Hostrander was strong against the middle of Hollidaysburg's lineup, surrendering only one hit to batters three through seven. Hostrander tossed first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 28 batters he faced.
"We were going to use him until he said he was ready to come out," Cipriani said. "We've been fortunate, he's been throwing all winter long. We had him up to 90 pitches without any soreness. He's been working hard throughout the winter and it showed today."
Sisto Campana, who went 2 for 3 and stole two bases, led the Williamsport offense.
Jett Bartholomew, the Millionaires' No. 8 hitter, doubled in his first at-bat which led to Williamsport's first run. After Bartholomew's double, Hostrander reached first when a fastball got away from Brett Hileman and nailed him in the back. A batter later, Campana singled to left and Cipriani held Bartholomew at third.
"It was more confidence in their arms, but I thought we would at least put the ball in play," Cipriani said. "He was a little shallow (that left fielder). There was no sense in making an out at home. I would much rather give the batter a chance instead of the left fielder's arm."
And the decision appeared to be the right one as Sam Bubb singled home Bartholomew on the next at-bat. SamVanDeLinde then hit into a fielder's choice to score Hostrander from third.
Williamsport, following Hollidaysburg's first run, posted three more runs in the fifth.
Williamsport 5, Holidaysburg 2
Hollidaysburg 000 010 1-2 4 2
Williamsport 002 030 X-5 7 3
Holidaysburg: Brett Hileman, Andy Crum (6) and Chris Storm. Williamsport: Ryan Hostrander and Joey Cassidy. WP-Hostrander. LP-Hileman.
Top Hollidaysburg hitters: Tanner Claar, RBI. Top Williamsport hitters: Sisto Campana 2-3, 2 SB; Jett Bartholomew 2-3, 2B.
Records: Williamsport (1-0, 1-0). Hollidaysburg (1-1, 0-1).
Next: Williamsport vs. Southwestern (Jamestown, NY), 4/01, 10 a.m. (At Mingo Bay Classic Myrtle Beach, SC.