Garrett Shnyder stepped off the mound, looked toward his fielders and directed them like a traffic cop. He then walked back toward the rubber and continued overpowering Lancaster County Christian.
That is Shnyder. He is one part dominant pitcher, one part coach.
Shnyder has had the kind of year future Montgomery baseball players are dreaming of. Every playoff game has presented a new moment as Montgomery has played the biggest games in program history. Every time he has owned those moments.
Shnyder has pitched 20 straight scoreless postseason innings and won four straight playoff games. His performance is becoming the stuff of legends in Montgomery and he has helped the Red Raiders reach the Class A state final for the first time in program history. Friday he will try and help Montgomery make history once again when it faces Bishop McCort in the state final.
"He throws great and he does everything he can to help us," shortstop Alex Worthington said. "It's just fun to be in the same ball park as him."
Shnyder has been virtually unhittable since returning from an early-season arm injury. The Lock Haven-bound senior has won nine straight decisions, going 9-1 with a 1.20 ERA while striking out 85 in 61 1/3 innings.
More impressive is that Shnyder has done his best work in his team's biggest games. His nine-inning complete-game, five-hitter against previously undefeated South Williamsport was a launching pad into the postseason and once there Shnyder has thrown three consecutive shutouts, including in the District 4 and Eastern Region championships.
He has been so good that when Montgomery has scored its initial runs in his playoff starts, Montgomery has taken on an aura of invincibility.
"Zero runs looks like a lot when Garrett is on the mound. He's been dominant," third baseman John Goetz said. "He's filling in all the gaps. We might let a runner on with an error or miscue but he'll come right back and make the next guy pay. He'll erase that.
Shnyder, also a terrific wrestler and a 1,000-yard quarterback, has been outstanding since playing his first varsity game as a freshman. That day he threw five hitless innings against South Williamsport. One can count Shnyder's varsity losses on one hand and he has gone 5-0 the last two postseasons.
Still, statistics only tell part of the story. Shnyder basically is a player-coach on the field. He has become a tremendous leader in his final season. He knows the game inside and out and shares that knowledge with his teammates.
"We're all on the same team, we're all high school kids so I try to let them do their thing and try to push them in the right direction to do the right thing," Shnyder said. "Fundamentals is what it is all about and I try to help them out whenever I can."
Montgomery has an excellent coaching staff, but great teams need tremendous on-field leaders as well.
"He's played ball his whole life and he knows the situations," Montgomery coach Tom Persing said. "We go over it in practice what we might want to do and he is kind of the guy right in the middle so everybody can see him. He directs a little bit here and there and it's good to have him out there doing that."
Shnyder helps out at the plate as well. He is hitting a team-best .426 with 17 extra-base hits and 20 RBI. He has a .557 on-base percentage and his .836 slugging percentage also is a team-best. He is a hitting teacher too, often giving those batting behind him helpful tips after facing the pitcher.
"He's a leader to everybody," center fielder Cameron McHenry said. "He's helping everybody out and that's what it's all about, everybody helping each other. Sometimes it takes another kid your age to show you something so you get it."
Still, as good a hitter, as good a player at shortstop as he is, Shnyder will most be remembered for his pitching. He has stared down outstanding lineups game after game this season and stifled them.
Shnyder has won four of Montgomery's five postseason games, starting his dominant stretch with a three-strikeout, eighth-inning performance in the district semifinals against Sullivan County. He then threw a complete-game three-hit shutout against Canton and its hard-hitting lineup in the district final before throwing another three-hit shutout against Camp Hill in the state quarterfinals.
Those performances seemed like a warm-up. Monday, Shnyder overpowered District 3 champion Lancaster County Christian, throwing a two-hit shutout that included nine strikeouts. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, did not walk a batter and faced just one batter over the minimum threw five innings.
It was the biggest game in program history to that point. It was just the way Shnyder liked it. These are the fun games for him. These are the ones that he was thinking about pitching in while putting in all the offseason work.
These are the games in which it seem Shnyder was born to pitch.
"It's comfortable to know that you as a player can make a play and then your pitcher is going to go back and complement that play with a pitch that's going to bring you a better ball," Goetz said. "I'm enjoying every single pitch.
"When Garrett is on the mound it's something special."