MUNCY - Montgomery baseball ended last season with one of the more memorable runs through the PIAA Class A postseason.
But with that success comes the challenge of now being the team to beat in 2013. Although the season is young, Montgomery answered the initial bell, picking up a 5-1 win ast HAC-III rival Muncy.
"If you're on top everybody wants to knock you off," Montgomery coach Tom Persing said. "We had a good year last year, but this is a whole new year. We have to continue to work hard and see what we can do."
What Montgomery (2-0, 2-0 HAC-III) could do was rely on dominant pitching and take advantage of timely hits.
Alex Worthington, struck out 11 and allowed just two hits on 105 pitches, embodying everything the Red Raiders have come to stand for the last two years. Not only did he earn the win with seven quality innings he did everything expected from a top player. Worthington opened the game with a double and later gave his team a 2-0 lead with a shot over the left-center field fence.
"Loved it," Worthington said of the home run. "I just keep my focus on that right field line and if I pull one I pull one."
Initially, Worthington struggled to find the zone and needed a combined 30 pitches to get through the first two innings. The Red Raider ace also hit two batters over the stretch and needed to pitch his way out of situations early with runners in scoring position.
It might have been the cold. It might have been the fact it was only the Red Raiders' second game of the season. Whatever the reason, Worthington made quick work of any early-season worries as he posted 10 of his 11 strikeouts after the second inning. He also allowed only one more hit the rest of the way.
"We worked through the winter, getting the pitch count up to where we could go seven," Tom Persing said.
On the offensive end, Worthington was in mid-season form, connecting for a single, double and home run while driving in two runs and scoring two.
"He has a few mechanical issues he needs to work on, but he'll be there at the end of the year," said Persing. "Overall I was pleased with the entire team today."
Muncy was a 14-4 winner over Millville earlier in the week.
"Anytime you play a good program it's a good chance to see where you're at in that point of the season," Muncy coach Chris Persing said. "It's only March 28th, but we feel like we are going to compete this year."
Although Muncy's offense struggled at times, Kenny Koch gave the Indians a solid performance, striking out 10 batters in 4 1/3 innings. Koch was tagged with three earned runs before being pulled in the fourth.
Despite the three runs, Koch still pitched out of jams and never seemed deterred by any trouble. Even after walking a batter and giving up the home run to Worthington, Koch refocused to get the final two outs of the inning on swinging strikeouts.
"We're just trying to figure out what we do best," Chris Persing said. "Even though the result wasn't we wanted I really liked the things we did. It's just a matter of execution at this point."
The chances were certainly there for the Indians, who stranded 12 guys on base. They also committed two costly errors in the sixth to help Montgomery score two more runs.
Montgomery 002 012 0-5 4 1
Muncy 000 000 1-1 2 2
Alex Worthington and Thomas Goetz. Kenny Koch, Skylar Ebner, and Dawson Fox.
WP: Alex Worthington. LP: Kenny Koch. Top Montgomery hitters: Worthington 3-3, HR, 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Corey Kriner 2B, run, RBI. Top Muncy hitters: Fox 2-3.
Records: Montgomery 2-0 (2-0). Muncy 1-1 (1-1).
Next: Muncy at Benton, Thursday 4:30 p.m. Millville at Montgomery, Thursday 4:30 p.m.