The Montoursville Major baseball team refers to the District 12 tournament as a ladder. Take each step and you will eventually reach your goal as champion.
Montoursville took a big step on Tuesday evening in its all-star opener, as Hunter Shearer threw a one-hit shutout and the offense exploded for 18 hits and four home runs in its 17-0 win over Jersey Shore at Montoursville.
Jersey Shore will play Muncy on Thursday and Montoursville awaits the winner of the Williamsport Area and Newberry matchup played today.
"It was a good start for us but it's a long tournament, we take it one at a time," Montoursville coach Lee Ranck said. "We call it a ladder. Today was the first step, the top of the ladder here is districts, you gotta go one game at a time. We can't look ahead."
Montoursville was focused on the task at hand with Jersey Shore. Shearer came out from the start and was in complete control and pounded the strike zone with his fastball and deadly curve. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning and Jersey Shore put only four balls in play. Shearer struck out nine, including the final three batters of the game.
"He's our best pitcher, he throws strikes and when he's out there he bears down." Ranck said. "During the regular season he pitched well. But when it comes time to pitch out here in this situation he really picks himself up and the kid throws strikes. He's got a great curve and he locates everything.
"At this level, if you can locate it, especially your fastball, you can hit the corner, you can pitch all day. That's the bottom line...if you can locate your fastball, you can pitch and that's what he does. He's just a really wonderful pitcher for his age."
Shearer was backed by a dominant and aggressive offense, including a three-run home run of his own.
After two innings, Montoursville led 4-0, but nothing could prepare Jersey Shore for the offensive output that awaited it in the third inning.
After Jersey Shore starter Chase Payton was pulled after a strong two innings of work, the bases were loaded for reliever Cody Hamilton.
The first hitter he saw was Jaxon Dalena who greeted Hamilton with a grand slam that went into the trees beyond the center-field fence. The home run put Montoursville up 9-0. After Toel Verrico singled, Austin Loe came in and connected on his first pitch for a line-drive home run to right-center field and an 11-0 lead.
Peyton Mussina added an RBI double and CJ Signor and Cole Ranck added RBI singles to end the inning and put Montoursville up 14-0. In the third inning, Montoursville tallied 10 runs, 11 hits and three home runs. Dalena had a double and a grand slam in the inning, Sechrist had a single and a home run and Signor had two singles.
Montoursville tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning on Shearer's home run.
Montoursville showed off its depth as the four reserves of Mussina, Verrico, Loe and Eddie Rodriguez combined were 5 for 7 with three singles, a double, a home run, a walk, six runs and three RBIs.
Jersey Shore managed just one hit and committed four errors.
"It's disheartening, you practice every day for two weeks and you come out here and get clobbered like that," Jersey Shore coach Ron Sellinger said. "We have 10 kids on this team that have multiple home runs this season and in our tournament in the Jersey Shore invitational, they all hit home runs in that, too. They just came here and went cold."
Montoursville 13(10) 3- 17 18 0
Jersey Shore 000 0- 0 1 4
Hunter Shearer and Cole Ranck. Chase Payton, Cody Hamilton (3rd), Gavin Boatman (4th) and Eli Fishel. W- Shearer. L- Payton.
Top Montoursville hitters: Jaxon Dalena 2-2 2B, grand slam, 5 RBI; Cameron Wood 3-4 2B, RBI, R; Hunter Shearer 2-3 HR, 4 RBI; Mason Sechrist 2-4 solo HR, 2 R; CJ Signor 3-4 3 R; Cole Ranck 1-1 RBI, R; Peyton Mussina 2B, RBI, 2 R; Austin Loe 2-2 2-run HR, 2 R. Top Jersey Shore hitters: Derrick Hughes 1-2.
Records: Montoursville (1-0); Jersey Shore (0-1). Next: Montoursville vs. Newberry/Williamsport Area at Keystone Sat., 1); Jersey Shore at Muncy, Thu., 6