MUNCY - Jeff Scott did not earn the win Monday against Southern Columbia. The Muncy pitcher did prove a point.
Given the ball against a hard-hitting team that mercy-ruled Muncy last month, Scott delivered a masterful performance, allowing no earned runs and only four hits over the last six innings. It is baseball irony that a player who did all he could to help Muncy win took a hard-luck loss.
John Wilson threw six scoreless innings after the first and Garrett Sosnoski hit a two-out, seventh-inning RBI single as Southern edged Muncy, 4-3. Regardless, a player filling in for Kenny Koch, who could not pitch due to a wrist injury, showed he can excel against big-time competition when given the opportunity.
Muncy shortstop Dawson Fox fields a ground ball before throwing to first base to retire Southern Columbia’s Nate Hunter in the sixth inning Monday at Muncy. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"I was really excited once he (coach Chris Persing) told me I was pitching because I haven't been tested like this before and it's good to know I did well," Scott said. "Hopefully in playoffs coach knows he can come to me now. They 10-runned us before and we wanted revenge."
Scott did all he could to exact it. The senior right-hander does not overpower opponents and did not have his best stuff. But he did have iron will and kept battling hard after Tyler Behrent's 3-run home run gave Southern (10-5, 8-4 HAC-III) a 3-0 first-inning lead.
After that home run, Scott was nearly untouchable, allowing just four hits and striking out five from the fifth through seventh innings. He should have been out of the seventh unscathed too but a two-out throwing error followed Mason Peters' single and put the go-ahead run at second base. After a foul ball was not caught, Sosnoski looped a clutch single that gave Southern the lead and ultimately the win.
"Jeff is mentally tough. He doesn't say much, he just likes to compete and likes to win. He will give everything he's got, there's no doubt," Persing said. "We didn't hesitate giving him the ball and he wanted the ball against a good team and he responded. We just have to make one more play behind him to give him a chance in the last inning and we just didn't do it."
Sosnoski delivered after falling behind 1-2. He fouled off two pitches before displaying a nice piece of hitting. Scott threw a good two-strike pitch on the outside corner, but Sosnoski (2 for 3) put a good swing on it and drove it into left field, easily scoring Peters.
Combine that hit with pitcher John Wilson striking out the side in the seventh and Southern clinched a District 4 Class AA playoff berth. How it did so was what stood out.
"Any time you win a one-run game going into the playoffs against a quality team I think it says a lot about your character," Southern coach Randy Young said. "Those are the games you have to win."
Wilson also struggled in the first inning before coming back strong. Muncy (10-6, 6-5) delivered five hits to tie the game 3-3 as Dawson Fox (2 for 3) and Troy Hembury hit a two-run single and RBI infield single, respectively.
Wilson threw 28 pitches in the first inning and because Southern was playing its fifth game in six days, it had little in pitching options behind him, leaving it on the ropes. The sophomore left-hander delivered under pressure, though, and finished the game throwing only 94 pitches. He worked out of a first and third, no-out jam in the fifth inning, struck out nine and shut down the top of Muncy's order to clinch the win.
"I was concerned at the beginning of the game and he said he didn't have his best stuff, but a good pitcher battles through that," Young said. "He toughed it out. We have a lot of good arms and he's just one of them."
Scott showed Muncy has plenty of good pitchers too. Fox is 4-1 and ace Koch has been one of the area's best. His injury opened the door for Scott and he flourished when given that coveted opportunity. He was knocked down in the first inning, but Southern never knocked him out.
Scott (3-1) pounded the strike zone, let his defense work behind him and grew stronger as the game progressed. He threw only 90 pitches and retired 10 of 11 batters between the fourth and seventh innings. Hembury helped out with a superb diving catch in left field in the third inning while second baseman Dalton Smith robbed Wilson of a lead-off fourth-inning single with another fielding gem.
"I really don't like giving up that easy," Scott said. "I just kind of got more focused. The defense started making plays behind me and I was confident they would make plays so I just made pitches."
Muncy seemed poised to take the lead in the fifth after Hembury reached on an error and went to third on Andrew Keller's bunt single. Wilson, though, struck out the next hitter before inducing a pop-out and groundout to end the threat.
The result was not what Muncy wanted, but progress was made. Scott made sure this win came the hard way.
"Obviously, we wanted to win. That's the goal every time we step on the field but from the last game to this game there were big improvements, offensively defensively and getting guys stepping up pitching," Persing said. "I don't like to lose, none of our guys do but we have a game (today against Millville) so you have to forget about it and move on."
Southern300 000 1-4 7 1
Muncy300 000 0-3 9 2
John Wilson and Taylor Young. Jeff Scott and T.J. Moyle. W-Wilson, (5-3). L-Scott, (3-1).
Top Southern hitters: Mason Peters 2-4, 2 R; Garrett Sosnoski 2-3, RBI, R; Tyler Behrent 2-4, 3-run HR. Top Muncy hitters: Kenny Koch 1-4, 2B, R; Dawson Fox 2-3, 2 RBI, R; Skylar Ebner 2-3.
Records: Southern 10-5, 8-4 HAC-III. Muncy 10-6, 6-5.