MILL HALL - Both coaches said after the game they have players who never quit and fight until the very end.
The Central Mountain Wildcats and the Williamsport Millionaires hung tough with each other, but when the fifth inning rolled around, Central Mountain delivered the knockout blow to secure the 6-1 victory on Monday afternoon.
"It was a very good high school baseball game with two quality teams," manager Mike Kramer said. "There was solid defense and we answered by scoring runs when we had to. We had some opportunities throughout the game and I tried to put some pressure on the team and they responded. I was proud of the way our guys came back and how they were able to put some hits together when we needed it."
Compared to the past few Wildcat games, the offense generated through the first four innings wasn't at the level it had been. Central Mountain struck first, off an RBI single by Kyle McGregor in the bottom of the first. Although the Wildcats held a 1-0 lead through the first three innings, opportunities were missed to widen the margin. Runners were left stranded in the first and third, along with a failed squeeze play. Kramer's team just couldn't gain any breathing room on the Millionaires.
"Well, our mentality is we like to be on the attack," Kramer said. "We like to force them to make plays. When I called the squeeze bunt that was just something to try and catch them off guard. I felt confident with the call at the time, but when it didn't work the guys didn't drop their heads and they kept on responding."
Williamsport finally got the better of Von Walker when Owen Lukens evened up the game at 1-1 with an RBI single in the third. Even though the score was tied, manager Dave Howe felt his guys were still shaking off some rust.
Eighteen days of no action can have that effect on a team.
Their last match-up was in the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. All games since then were canceled by weather-related issues, and Monday wasn't exactly bathing suit weather.
"Walker is a heck of a pitcher and he did a good job against us," Howe said. "He's one of the best pitchers we've seen; we didn't see anybody like him in Myrtle Beach. We still need a lot of work, but we'll be all right."
Both teams displayed excellent defense in the fourth with two three ups and three downs. At this point, the game was too close for comfort, and the crowd was getting antsy for runs.
Step up to the plate Cayden Stover.
And did he ever step up.
Stover hit a rope to right-center, driving in two runs off his double and the floodgates opened. Stover's sudden injection of offense proved contagious. After Walker got on base, McGregor hit a two-run double of his own, bringing the score to 5-1. The final run of the inning came off yet another double, this one hit by Daniel Kerstetter, pushing the score to 6-1.
"Big innings are always huge in baseball," Kramer said. "We also scored with two outs in that inning and when you can do that, it will take the wind out of the other team's sails. Our guys came up big for us in that inning."
The Millionaires had no answer to the Wildcats' five-run outburst. Walker finished out the rest of the game in impressive fashion, including throwing Williamsport into a 5-4-3 double play in the sixth.
"Von is just a true competitor when comes down to any game," Kramer said. "I just love watching him play when he's on and I felt very confident with how he was doing. His pitches were working and he did an outstanding job today."
Williamsport: 001 000 0 - 1 4 2
Central Mountain 100 050 X - 6 5 1
Gabe Raider (L), Aaron Webber (5) and Joey Cassidy; Von Walker (W) and Ryan Yost.
Williamsport top hitters: Dinsmore 2B; Sam Bubb 2-3. Central Mountain top hitters: Wise 2B; Stover 2B; Mcgregor 2B, 3 RBIs.
Record: Williamsport 4-2
Next game: Danville at Williamsport on Wednseday.