JERSEY SHORE - Christian Rishel and Zach Miller staged quite an offensive competition Tuesday against Hughesville. Rishel dominated early and Miller made a later surge as the friends went back and forth, trying to top each other.
Rule that individual competition a draw. The real winner was the entire Jersey Shore baseball team.
Rishel and Miller combined for five hits and 10 RBIs while Travis Eiswerth and Michael Schoonmaker combined on a 3-hit shutout as Jersey Shore pounded Hughesville, 13-0 in five innings. Rishel, the No. 3 hitter, finished with six RBIs, while Miller, the clean-up hitter, slammed two home runs as Jersey Shore (8-1) made a big statement in a showdown between reigning District 4 champions.
"Miller is an excellent hitter and he had an amazing game today," said Rishel who had five RBIs by the second inning. "We're always competing with each other and joking with each other about it. It was a fun day."
"I was trying to catch up to (Rishel) in RBIs," Miller said. "He's one of the best hitters around here so just to hit behind him is awesome because I know when he's on base I'm going to have a chance to hit him in."
Rishel prevented Miller from getting a lot of RBI opportunities early since he was driving everyone in. The senior center fielder ripped a two-run first-inning single before belting a three-run double an inning later that gave Jersey Shore a 5-0 lead. Both times he cleared the bases.
When Zach DePasqua was hit by a one-out pitch, Hughesville intentionally walked Colton Potter (2 for 3). It was not a slap at Rishel but strategy as it loaded the bases with one out and set up a potential double play. But Rishel did not perceive it that way and made Hughesville pay, drilling his double to deep left field. Rishel now has eight RBIs in his last two games, producing two or more runs on all three of his hits.
"I love hitting with guys on base," Rishel said. "They were putting me in the spot so it motivated me to try and hit the ball hard and get the runners in. It felt good."
While Rishel opened his big RBI lead with just two swings, Miller started mounting his comeback a batter later. The left fielder continued his big season, taking a low and outside pitch the opposite way for a two-run home run that made it 7-0.
Miller then ignited a six-run fourth-inning rally that officially made the game a blowout. While the first home run just cleared the right-field fence, Miller left no doubt with his next one, pounding an 0-1 pitch well over the fence in dead center field. He later added a RBI single in the inning that capped the scoring as he finished 3 for 3 with four RBIs and reached base all four times. Miller also delivered his fifth multi-hit performance in six games.
"Even in the batting cages I was focused and ready for this game. I was feeling good," said Miller, who has five multi-hit performances in his last six games. "I was a little relieved (after the second home run). Hitting two home runs in a game is a bonus after hitting the first one."
Eiswerth won his 15th varsity game, striking out four and scattering three singles in his four innings. Hughesville did have a chance to score early, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Eiswerth struck out the next hitter before Brett Reitz hit a flyball that Levi Lorson caught in shallow right field. Lorson then made a perfect throw home as Eric Huling was waiting to make the tag for a final out.
The game's complexion immediately changed and Hughesville never seemed the same, managing just two hits from there.
"I've been in baseball for a long time and this is one of the most embarrassing games that I've been a part of as a player and a coach," Hughesville coach Casey Waller said. "There was no fight. We were done from the first inning. When you don't come out here and lay it on the line I have an issue with that and they should have an issue with that as players and teammates."
Jersey Shore finished with 11 hits. Every starter scored at least one run and every starter reached base. Bronson Bass reached base four times while DePasqua reached base three times, scored twice and drove in a run. It was an impressive performance and one that Jersey Shore hopes can carry over to Wednesday when it plays Williamsport at Logue Field.
Hughesville conversely hopes yesterday's performance serves as a turning point. The Spartans lost 10-0 in five innings to Mifflinburg last year before winning 17 of their next 20 games and capturing the program's first district championship. Waller hopes the road to redemption starts today against Lewisburg.
"All I expect from these guys is to come out and compete and play hard for all seven innings," Waller said. "You can't rest on your laurels from last year of winning a district championship. You have to go out and there provide it day in and day out. We'll turn the page and get after it (today) but I'm going to lose some sleep after this one."
Hughesville000 00-0 3 0
Jersey Shore250 6x-13 11 3
Logan Reynolds, Christian Fish (2), Avery Eddy (4) and Justin Lambert. Travis Eiswerth, Michael Schoonmaker (5) and Eric Huling. W-Eiswerth, (3-1). L-Reynolds, (3-1).
Top Hughesville hitters: Zach Fry 1-2; Sean Poust 1-2. Top Jersey Shore hitters: Zach DePasqua 1-1, RBI, 2 R; Colton Potter 2-3, 2B, 2 R; Christian Rishel 2-4, 2B, 6 RBI, R; Zach Miller 3-3, 2 HRs, 4 RBI, 2 R; Bronson Bass 1-1, R; Cody Bradley 1-2, RBI, R; Levi Lorson 1-2, RBI, 2 R.
Records: Jersey Shore 8-1. Hughesville 7-3.