MUNCY - Minutes after Thursday's game against Millville, Amanda Kustanbauter resumed working. Muncy was victorious but the game's winning pitcher took flyballs in the outfield for the next 40 minutes. It might have seemed strange to others, but one never knows when his or her time will come.
Kustanbauter's came Saturday.
Playing right field for the first time in the seventh inning, Kustanbauter made an impressive game-ending catch on a deep fly ball as Muncy held off a furious South Williamsport comeback and won, 5-4. Kustanbauter shined in all facets, pitching six strong innings to earn the win, going 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs and then making the difficult catch.
"That's not an easy play and she was all over it. I don't think it could have been more fitting for this game that Amanda makes that catch," Muncy coach Chris Ebner said. "She throws a whale of a game, she hits well and it was appropriate she catch the final out. You can't really write it better than that."
Kustanbauter scattered four hits in six innings while her fourth-inning single helped generate the go-ahead run. Muncy (4-1) led 5-2 after six innings when former Montgomery ace Emily Shnyder came in to close things out. South pulled within one run and had the tying run at second after Kelsey Gantz hit a two-out RBI double.
It looked like South catcher Alana Herrera might tie the game when she followed by hitting a flyball that in a tricky wind started tailing deep and toward the right-field line. It was a play that might have been tough for a veteran right fielder, let alone somebody playing there for the first time all year. Kustanbauter read the play, however, moved in front of the ball and made the catch.
She was prepared.
"That's something I chose to do. I chose to stay after practice and work. Practice makes you better," Kustanbauter said. "I saw it off the bat. I got a little nervous but I lined myself up and made sure I got the catch."
"We've been trying to get her (Herrera) to work the whole field and she's working hard at it and had some good at-bats today so, I know it didn't drop for her, but I was really pleased with that at-bat," South coach Scott Stugart said. "That was a nice drive going to right field with that outside pitch and a nice catch."
Muncy avenged last year's 10-0 loss in a big early-season showdown between District 4 Class A title contenders. When Caitlin Dauberman stole home in the sixth inning and gave Muncy a 5-2 lead, the Indians appeared well on their way to exacting some revenge.
Instead, South rallied the way it has so often the last two seasons. Sabrina Mussare hit a lead-off single before moving to third on Paige Lentz's bunt single and scoring on Lizz Cumming's sacrifice fly to deep left field. The Mounties were down to their final out when Gantz drilled her RBI double into right-center field and set the stage for a dramatic ending.
"They definitely don't quit. They have a lot of fight," Stugart said. "We have a few things to work on but Muncy is a great team and I know we're going to see them again because they are going to be there at the end."
Muncy went ahead to stay in the fourth inning, scoring twice and taking a 4-2 lead after Roxie Keller had just tied the game with a two-out RBI single. Kustanbauter delivered again, following a Dauberman walk by hitting a single that, when misplayed, allowed Dauberman to score. Haley Gyurina, making her first start after dealing with mono, scored Kustanbauter, slamming a two-out double.
Kustanbauter struggled offensively in her first four games but came up big yesterday. The senior gave Muncy a 2-1 second-inning lead when she ripped a two-run single that scored Emily Shnyder and Sarah Miller.
"I've been struggling at the plate for a little bit but the practice in the cage worked out and I'm glad it happened today," Kustanbauter said. "I was confident we were going to come through. I have a lot of confidence in our team and they're backing us up no matter what."
Muncy did that without generating a hit in the sixth. Dauberman walked, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. When Gyurina drew a two-out walk, she kept running toward second and purposely was caught in a rundown. Dauberman stole home seconds before Gyurina was tagged out.
Those little things equaled big things as Muncy showed how dangerous it can be. Catcher Crystal Good doubled twice and also was outstanding behind the plate, never letting a ball get past her.
"It was a good win against a good team that is always well-coached," Ebner said. "I can't say enough about coming through even with the adversity and pushing through. That's what we've been looking for and we made some progress there."
South010 100 2-4 8 1
Muncy020 201 x-5 6 3
Anna Steer and Alana Herrera. Amanda Kustanbauter, Emily Shnyder (7) and Crystal Good. W-Kustanbauter, (4-1). L-Steer, (1-2). SV-Shnyder, (1).
Top South hitters: Kelsey Gantz 1-4, 2B, RBI; Kalynn Wheeland 2-3, 2 R; Herrera 1-2, 2B; Roxie Keller 1-3, RBI. Top Muncy hitters: Crystal Good 2-3, 2 2Bs; Kustanbauter 2-3, 2 RBI, R; Haley Gyurina 1-2, 2B, RBI.
Records: Muncy 4-1. South Williamsport 3-2.