JERSEY SHORE - As a fourth grader, he watched his oldest brother Mitch help Jersey Shore capture its first District 4 Class AAA championship. As an eighth grader, he watched his other older brother Jake win a fourth straight league championship.
Now, after years of watching, sophomore Colton Potter finally has his chance to shine. And both the family and Jersey Shore baseball traditions keep going strong.
Potter and Chris Glunk each belted three hits and teamed up on a sensational first-inning play while three pitchers combined on a five-hitter as Jersey Shore downed Mifflinburg, 4-2 Tuesday and clinched its seventh straight playoff berth. Jersey Shore (10-2-1, 8-1 HAC-I) also remained atop the league standings and became the first Class AAA team to clinch a berth this season.
Kalen Greider of Jersey Shore slides into home as Mifflinburg catcher Logan Cooper tries to chase down the lose ball on a single by Ryan Huling in the third inning Tuesday at Jersey Shore. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"This program means a lot to our entire family," Potter said. "Our goal has always been to be state champs. We haven't accomplished that yet and hopefully this year we buckle down and get it done."
Jersey Shore took another step in the right direction Tuesday, completing a season sweep of Mifflinburg while remaining undefeated at home. Prior to 2006, reaching districts was cause for celebration. These days, it is just the start of what the Bulldogs hope is a long journey.
"That was our first goal," Jersey Shore coach Matt O'Brien said. "That's one we can mark off the checklist."
Tellef Notevarp, Caleb Barnhart and Travis Eiswerth took turns stifling Mifflinburg and never allowed multiple hits in an inning. Notevarp started, Barnhart pitched two scoreless innings and ended the fifth with a nifty double play. Eiswerth earned the save, inducing a game-ending groundout to second baseman Ryan Huling.
Potter and Glunk sparked the offense and had six of the team's 10 hits. Both players batted in all three innings that Jersey Shore scored, including the third when Jersey Shore went ahead to stay 3-1 on Zach DePasqua's RBI single and an error. Glunk also helped produce a valuable insurance run in the sixth inning, delivering a leadoff single, moving to third on Potter's single and scoring on Blake Musser's sacrifice fly while finishing 3 for 3.
"I felt pretty good, pretty confident. I had been going through a slump and wasn't hitting the ball but I finally got back into it," said Glunk, a valuable hitter in the No. 8 slot. "I'm just trying to get on base so the top of the lineup has something to hit in."
As good as Potter and Glunk were offensively, they might have made their biggest impact defensively. Oakley Whitesel looked like he might put Mifflinburg up 1-0 in the top of the first, hitting a ball through the middle with a runner on second. Instead, Potter raced into the hole behind the base, made a diving stop and fired to Glunk who made a terrific scoop.
It was the kind of play that does not show up in a boxscore, but also the type that in a close game made all the difference.
"It was just getting set early and reading the ball off the bat," Potter said. "I knew I had to make the play and I knocked it down."
"I think that was definitely going to get through and Glunk had a nice pick at first," O'Brien said. "That really was an important play."
Potter led off the bottom of the first with a single and scored when Kaiden Brungard and Ryan Koch hit consecutive two-out singles. Koch fueled the two-run third-inning when he drew a one-out walk. Galen Greider, DePasqua and Glunk followed with singles.
Notevarp, who threw a perfect game in his last start, should have thrown three scoreless innings. Mifflinburg scored in the second when Colby Hackenberg hit a lead-off single and later came home on a one-out sacrifice fly. However, that sacrifice should have been the third out and Hackenberg should have never been on base. Center fielder Blake Musser nearly made a spectacular diving catch in the right-center field gap but the ball popped out of his glove. Right fielder Christian Rishel was on the spot and photographs showed that he caught the ball off the deflection before it hit the ground.
Mifflinburg made it 3-2 on Dakota Noll's sixth-inning double, but Jersey Shore's three pitchers continued their recent dominance. They also all remained eligible for upcoming games, a huge plus since Jersey Shore is in the middle of playing five games in nine days.
"I have all the confidence in our pitchers," Glunk said. "Our pitchers are good. They'll throw you strikes and get you ground balls and win us ball games."
Mifflinburg010 001 0-2 5 2
Jersey Shore102 001 x-4 10 0
Ryan McNally and Logan Cooper. Tellef Notevarp, Caleb Barnhart (4), Travis Eiswerth (6) and Ryan Koch. W-Barnhart, (3-0). L-McNally. SV-Eiswerth, (1).
Top Mifflinburg hitters: Brady Lloyd 2-3; Colby Hackenberg 2-2, 2 R; Dakota Noll 1-2, 2B, RBI. Top Jersey Shore hitters: Colton Potter 3-4, R; Chris Glunk 3-3, R; Koch 1-2, RBI.
Records: Jersey Shore 10-2-1, 8-1 HAC-I. Mifflinburg 4-8, 4-6.