Anyone wanting to know how efficient the Loyalsock offense was against Montoursville didn't have to look too far down the batting order.
Leadoff hitter Michael LaPoint finished 5 for 5 and scored five times as Loyalsock forced an "if" game with Montoursville for the District 12 Junior Baseball title after a 15-10 victory on Friday night in a game that was called after six innings due to darkness despite a 20-minute early start.
"Michael provided a spark tonight that we have been missing a little bit at the top," said Loyalsock assistant coach Jim LaPoint, who was filling in for the team's manager who was serving the final game of his suspension. "It was nice to have his wheels on base because I think the guys behind him drove him home every time which was huge for us."
Chase McNulty of Loyalsock holds up the ball after retiring Preston Shearer at second base Friday at Montoursville. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
Loyalsock and Montoursville will meet for a third time in the district tournament at 1 p.m. today back at Montoursville with the winner capturing the District 12 championship and advancing to the Section 3 Tournament to be held at a District 15 site. The District 12 champion will open Section 3 play against the champ from District 24 on Wednesday.
Should Montoursville and Loyalsock play a similar game from their two earlier meetings, the winner from today will need the break. The two teams met in the District 12 winner's bracket final and combined for 22 runs. They totaled 25 on Friday.
LaPoint accounted for 20 percent of Friday's runs. The leadoff hitter had four singles and a triple - and batted three times by the end of the third inning as Loyalsock built a 9-2 lead.
"I came into tonight not being able to hit anything," said LaPoint, "so I was just trying to put the ball in play and see what happened."
Despite the seven-run advantage and turning away Montoursville in the second and third innings, Loyalsock understood the game was far from over, so it just kept scoring.
Loyalsock scored a run in each of the six innings and never allowed Montoursville to draw closer than four runs after taking a 9-2 lead.
"Our coaches were telling us that coming into the game that it doesn't matter how many runs we get, they can come back," LaPoint said.
Montoursville nearly did.
When Montoursville did close to within 10-6 in the fifth inning, it had a golden opportunity to make it even closer but it left the bases loaded.
Loyalsock took what seemed like a comfortable 14-6 lead after the fifth inning, but Montoursville came right back again and scored four times in the sixth. Loyalsock used a pair of pitchers in the sixth, including LaPoint, who retired the final two hitters he faced after surrendering a two-run double.
"I didn't want to pitch too much because I wanted to be eligible (today), so I tried to be efficient with my pitching," LaPoint said.
Loyalsock extended its lead to 15-10 in the sixth and after the inning the umpiring crew came together in the infield and decided to call the game due to darkness.
"We talked about momentum a lot because baseball, like a lot of sports, is about momentum and it can change on a good at-bat or a play in the field and that is what we stressed to the kids," Jim LaPoint said.
Loyalsock finished with 18 hits. LaPoint (5) and Michael Stopper (4) accounted for half of them. LaPoint, Aaron Raemore and Joey Worth - the top three hitters in the Loyalsock lineup - went 9 for 12 with 10 runs scored and six RBIs.
Brycen Mussina had three hits and three RBIs for Montoursville.
Despite needing four pitchers, Loyalsock will have all but Raemore, Friday's starter, available for today. Raemore pitched into the fifth inning before three consecutive Montoursville hits ended his night. He struck out five and picked up the win.
Montoursville200 314 - 10 11 2
Loyalsock423 141 - 15 18 1
Mitchell Rothrock, Ryan Kessler (3), Noah Fagnano (5), Cole Karschner (6) and Brendan Mutchler. Aaron Raemore, Eric Holz (5), Joey Worth (6), Michael LaPoint (6) and Joey Worth, LaPoint (6), Worth (6). W - Raemore. L - Rothrock.
Top Montoursville hitters: Fagnano 2-4, run, RBI; Rothrock 2-3, 3 runs; Caleb Frantz 2-4, run; Brycen Mussina 3-3, 3 RBIs, 2 runs; Camerian Hill 2b, 2 RBIs. Top Loyalsock hitters: LaPoint 5-5, 3B, 5 runs; Raemore 2-3, 3 runs, 2 RBIs; Worth 2-4, 2B, 4 RBIs, 2 runs; Holz 2-5, run, RBI; Michael Stopper 4-4, RBI, 2 runs; Gavin Reitz 2B, 2 RBIs; Chase McNulty 2B, run.
Next: Loyalsock at Montoursville, 1 p.m., today