It really is no contest. Technology always outpaces me.
Back in college, I was still writing friends letters while everyone else was discovering email. I did not have my first cell phone until my in-laws bought me one a few years ago. And while everyone seems to have their fancy smart phones with every application known to man at their disposal, I have an old-school phone that I use for only talking and texting.
Dr. Masse, however, is getting with the times for Saturday's Backyard Brawl. In the past I have used my Sun-Gazette blog to post inning-by-inning updates from the Brawl, but this year I will be tweeting updates, hopefully after every at-bat as time permits. Excitement will probably be dripping from the tweets which you can follow at @docmasse because the Brawl is the highlight of my spring sports season.
It really does not get much better than four tradition-laden neighborhood teams playing for a championship at Bowman Field. Every year, Williamsport, South Williamsport, Montoursville and Loyalsock are in the hunt for league and district championships and this year is no different. The four teams are a combined 41-10 and South and Loyalsock are at the top of their respective leagues.
The Mounties and Lancers meet in the day's opening game at 10 a.m. before Williamsport faces Montoursville in a rematch of last year's championship at 12:30. The consolation game is at 3 and the championship 6:30 p.m. The Millionaires captured last year's tournament, beating Montoursville for the second time in three years. The Warriors won the 2010 title, beating Loyalsock in the final.
The great thing about the Brawl is that all four teams are capable of winning the crown and all four games should be excellent. Winning the Brawl also helps teams gear up for the playoffs. Montoursville and Williamsport are great examples since both used Brawl titles to propel them toward district championships.
Four outstanding area teams, four great traditions and one historic field. It makes for a great day.
And this technological old-timer is in good shape. Saturday presents an old-fashioned neighorhood showdown.
SAVVY SOPHOMORE: Hughesville coach Casey Waller was happy when Jersey Shore coach Matt O'Brien informed him Colton Potter is the last Potter brother coming through Jersey Shore. Older brothers Mitch and Jake tormented Waller and most other District 4 coaches for five straight seasons while helping Jersey Shore capture a district championship and four league crowns.
Now it is Colton's turn and the sophomore shortstop is doing a nice job carrying on the family tradition. Potter hits lead-off and sparks a dangerous offense while playing some outstanding defense. He has been instrumental to Jersey Shore starting 11-2-1 and becoming the first District 4 Class AAA team to clinch a playoff berth.
Potter started every game last year as a freshman, playing whatever position he was asked. He helped Jersey Shore capture the district championship and already has become a team leader who appears mature beyond his years.
"Colton is one of our hardest workers and he wants it. He's just a good ball player all around," O'Brien said. "He is a leader and you can't teach that. He will do anything you ask which is all you can ask for as a coach."
It's a double-edged sword for opposing coaches, Colton is the last Potter who will play at Jersey Shore, but there is no cause for celebration. They still have to deal with him for the next 2 1/2 years.
IN THE HUNT: St. John Neumann entered last week 4-9, but had no intention of giving up on its playoff dreams. Instead, the Knights rallied to edge Sullivan County, 2-1 and thump Benton, 10-0 in five innings. The Knights (6-9) are still alive and have winnable games down the stretch, so they have a shot at reaching the postseason for the first time since 1993.
"I hope it does move the guys' mindset. A lot of teams would be like we have a couple more tough games and would give up now," said Brock Danneker after throwing a brilliant three-hit complete-game against Sullivan. "This win here helped us. I think it's going to bring us together and hopefully it carries on the rest of the season because we need to win them out."
The Knights are getting strong pitching from Danneker, Ryan Reid and Doug Hasko. Reid threw a two-hit shutout against Benton and Hasko stifled Montgomery earlier this season. The offense woke up against Benton and that is a positive sign for a 10-player team that refuses to cave.
EXTRA BASES: Canton coach Bob Rockwell won his 300th career game last Thursday when his team rallied past Williamson, 3-2. Rockwell has made Canton a perennial District 4 Class A title contender and his Warriors (12-2) have won 12 of their last 13 games. ... Muncy clinched its 13th straight district appearance last week, routing Millville, Benton and Sullivan County by a 40-6 margin. The Indians (10-7) have won four District 4 Class A championships, reached three state semifinals and one state championship during that stretch. ... Montoursville (7-5) broke out offensively last week, scoring 26 runs and delivering 27 hits in wins over Shikellamy and Selinsgrove. Senior first baseman/catcher Dalton Young ignited the outburst and went 5 for 8 with a home run and eight RBIs. Sophomores Andrew Null and Alec Rothrock combined for six hits against Selinsgrove.
DR. MASSE'S TOP FIVE
1. South Williamsport (14-0)
The Mounties found themselves in unfamiliar territory Wednesday in Catawissa. South fell behind Southern Columbia 2-0 after four innings, making it the first time all season it trailed in a game. It was a good challenge against a streaking team and the Mounties thrived under the pressure, scoring seven runs in their next three at bats while winning, 7-2. South is off to the best start in it's proud program's history and can clinch its first HAC-III championship if it wins at Montgomery on Monday.
2. Jersey Shore?(12-2-1)
The Bulldogs are in the midst of playing five games in nine days but have handled things well thus far, going 3-0 last week while downing defending District 4 Class AA championship?Danville, 4-1 Saturday. Jersey Shore is loaded with pitching depth and Tellef Notevarp, Caleb Barnhart and Travis Eiswerth all have had outstanding seasons.?Eiswerth, a sophomore, has shined in his first varsity season and pitched five innings of three-hit baseball against Danville while Notevarp is 5-0 with a save. The Bulldogs have a huge game today against Milton, the only HAC-I team to beat them. Both have clinched playoff spots and?Milton?(11-3) is only half a game behind in the district standings.?Jersey Shore clinches its fifth league title in six years if it wins.
Just like South, which has games against Montgomery and?Muncy, the?Lancers have a tough week before even entering Bowman?Field on Saturday. The Lancers travel to surging Central Columbia (10-3) before hosting Hughesville (9-3-1) on Wednesday.?If?Loyalsock wins both games it captures its fourth straight HAC-II championship.?No team other than the Lancers has ever won that title. Loyalsock pitchers have surrendered only six runs in the past four games and both Ethan?Moore and Kyle Datres are 4-0.?Nick DiFrancesco is a talented sophomore outfielder who had two doubles against Warrior Run.
4. Williamsport (7-4)
The Millionaires have lost four straight, but were only three outs away from handing Mifflin?County (12-1) its second loss before rain ended things in the top of the fifth with them ahead 3-1. A bright spot is the return of Owen Lukens who made his debut last week after tearing his ACL in the football preseason last August.?Lukens was the team's projected starting quarterback and shortstop and never quit on coming back this spring. Lukens had two hits Saturday against DuBois, showing a lot of determination coming back and his addition can only help Williamsport moving forward.
The Red Raiders are closing in on the most wins in program history and also hold a one-game lead over Canton for the top seed in District 4 Class A. Montgomery is rolling largely due to a pitching staff that is dominating opponents. The Raiders have allowed just four runs in their last four games and Alex Worthington threw a no-hitter that included 12 strikeouts last week against Benton. Garrett Shnyder has won three straight decisions and surrendered just six hits in those outings. The?Raiders will be out for revenge today when they host South?Williamsport, the team that handed them their only loss.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dawson Fox, Muncy
The versatile junior who can play multiple positions packed a wallop last week. Fox went 5 for 8 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs. He also was tough on the mound and pitched a five-hitter against Millville while winning his third game.
GAME OF THE WEEK: South Williamsport vs. Loyalsock
What a way to start Saturday's Brawl. These fierce rivals have not played in two years and combined have won 27 straight games. Both teams are serious District 4 Class AA title contenders and have met in the finals twice since 2005.?These strong teams have played some of the area's best games over the last decade and Saturday likely will be no different.
Masse may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org