BEECH CREEK -Moments after Loyalsock's Zach Haefner connected with a two-run, second-inning home run, Aaron Best, Jersey Shore/GSV's starting pitcher, put the home run out of him mind and focused on his catcher.
The Jersey Shore/GSV struck out the next three hitters and he and a reliever shut out Loyalsock the rest of the way on the way to a 5-3 win. at Blaine Kunes Memorial Park on Saturday.
The win advances Jersey Shore/GSV into the District 12 Major Baseball winner's bracket final against Keystone. The game is set for Tuesday at Loyalsock.
The two-run home run pulled Loyalsock within 5-3, but failed to shake Best. After the three strikeouts to end the second inning, Best pitched with more confidence in his curveball, blanking Loyalsock the rest of the way.
"That was a huge moment in the game," Jersey Shore/GSV manager John Best said. "He's (Aaron Best) always been level-headed, and home runs have never shaken him. That was a big turning point in the game."
Aaron Best agreed with his coach's assessment.
"It was a very important key to the game," he said. "It gave me a lot of confidence."
Best's ability to throw his curveball for strikes kept Loyalsock off-balance throughout the game. In five innings, Best scattered four Loyalsock hits, overcame a fielding error in the second and finished with six strikeouts.
"That kid (Best) beat us with a good curveball," Loyalsock assistant coach Dave Watkins said. "He pitched a great game."
Best was eventually pulled in the sixth after reaching the 85-pitch count. He recorded the first out of the inning, though.
Not sure if he would be the relief pitcher, Brady Eck appeared ready after his coach waved him in from center field. Eck then added to his already high confidence, fanning the first batter he faced with three pitches.
"It was very big for me," Eck said.
Eck took a momentary pause prior to his next pitch. The cheering from his fellow Jersey Shore/GSV teams in attendance were overwhelming, but with a quick index finger to the mouth, the support knew to keep it quiet.
"It was huge," Eck said of the support. "It's nice to have our other teams here cheering us on."
The now golf-like atmosphere appeared to benefit Eck who got the final out with ground ball to first base.
After making the play, Sean Anderson held up his glove and greeted his teammates at home to celebrate.
Jersey Shore/GSV 5, Loyalsock 3
Jersey Shore/GSV 320 00X-5 6 2
Loyalsock 120 000-3 4 0
Aiden Gair, Collin Graver (3), Evan Nagy (5), and Zach Haefner. Aaron Best, Brady Eck (6), and Garrett Hagaman. WP-Best. LP-Gair.
Top Loyalsock hitters: Conner Watkins 1-2, 2B, run; Haefner 1-3, HR (2-run), run, 2 RBI. Top Jersey Shore/GSV hitters: Cody Coleman 2B, run; Eck 2-3, 2 runs, RBI.
Records: Jersey Shore/GSV 2-0. Loyalsock 1-1.
Next: Jersey Shore/GSV vs. Keystone, Tuesday at Loyalsock (6 p.m.)