Ott’s return from injury fuels Warriors’ big start

JERSEY SHORE – Minutes after Montoursville catcher Cameron Ott launched a mammoth third-inning home run Friday, his father Tom Ott received a phone call. It was his 10-year-old son Logan. He had just homered, too.

The Otts have long been one of Montoursville’s premier baseball families. Whatever the age, the Ott’s always produce and it appears that trend will continue for much of the next decade. Logan will play for Montoursville in a few years. For now, the Warriors are just grateful Cameron is back.

A season after missing the entire 2012 campaign with a torn labrum, Ott looks like he never left. The junior is one of the district’s premier catchers and displayed his offensive power yesterday, going 2 for 2 with a home run, two walks and three runs scored as Montoursville routed two-time defending District 4 Class AAA champion Jersey Shore, 12-1 in five innings.

“It was very tough last year. You get to come out and hang out with the guys and watch but that’s a tough feeling to know you can’t be out there helping,” Ott said. “I learned a lot last year and it really has helped me this year.”

“He’s such a rock behind the plate. He only had one hit coming into today and it didn’t matter because he fields the position like he’s supposed to, he gives confidence to the pitchers and he handles our staff so well,” Montoursville coach Travis Wurster said. “Now you add the fact that he can hit a 400-foot home run and that’s nice, too. It’s such a luxury having him back.”

Montoursville (3-1, 3-1 HAC-I) made a big statement against an outstanding team that swept it last year. The Warriors scored 12 runs in the first three innings, batted around in the first two and had seven players drive in at least one run. Andrew Null threw four innings of two-hit, shutout baseball and also went 3 for 4 with a triple and three runs as Montoursville won its third straight.

Despite not being able to use its infield for practice, Montoursville has won those games by a 38-1 margin and scored 38 consecutive runs before Ryan Huling hit a fifth-inning RBI double.

“It’s the fourth game so we’re taking it easy here because it’s how you finish,” Wurster said. “But we’re excited about the way our kids are swinging the bats. They’re taking great approaches at the plate. We can talk all we want, but if they don’t take those good approaches it really doesn’t matter.”

Montoursville scored only two runs in its losses to Jersey Shore (3-1, 3-1) last year. It also did not have Ott. The team’s No. 2 hitter was part of a powerful top of the lineup that reached base 10 times in 12 at-bats and scored nine runs yesterday. All three, starting with Pierce Ranck, reached to start the game and Null’s RBI single ignited a five-run inning which Aaron Cole (2 for 3) capped with a two-run single.

Those three again reached to start the second inning and Montoursville scored four more times. The third inning was a repeat and Ott highlighted the three-run rally with his long home run over the left-field fence. Ott sliced the no-doubter through a powerful wind blowing in, revealing his power and strength while putting Montoursville ahead 11-0.

The scary thing is Ott is just settling in. After tearing his labrum in January of 2012, Ott could not pick up a bat or glove for six months. He played toward the end of the summer but not much before football season started. Still, good luck finding a much more well-rounded catcher in District 4.

Ott is a weapon behind the plate, blocking balls, displaying a good arm and calling all the pitches. Now that he is getting more comfortable offensively, Montoursville has a dimension that was missing last year.

“We’re working on getting our cage reps in and doing a lot of hitting and we really came through today,” Ott said. “It’s great to be back out there with the team and it was a good game today. It’s pretty exciting.”

So has been Null’s performance. The right-hander is one of the district’s youngest juniors at 16-years-old but has been a force on the mound and at the plate. He has not allowed a run in eight innings, including six strikeouts yesterday. He’s also recorded seven hits in those two starts.

Down 7-0 in the second inning, Jersey Shore loaded the bases with no outs and was a hit away from getting back into the game. Null then struck out the next three hitters and the Bulldogs never threatened again.

“For him to focus in and get the next three guys and not let any damage happen was huge,” Wurster said. “At that point we’re looking for damage control, but he was able to limit it completely which is great. That’s the type of stuff he can do. He’s a special, special kid and we’re going to see a lot more of that the next two years.”

Jersey Shore had not allowed a run in its first three games but never recovered after Montoursville’s early barrage. Christian Rishel hit well, however, going 2 for 2 with a double while reaching base all three times. In the grand scheme of things, the loss does not damage Jersey Shore much since the season is young and it still is tied for first in the HAC-I.

“This is one you just sweep under the rug and keep pushing forward,” Jersey Shore coach Matt O’Brien said. “We obviously have a lot to work on and have to get better every single day. Today was a step backwards but we’ll push through and I know the kids will work hard and get better.”

Montoursville 12,

Jersey Shore 1

Montoursville543 00-12 9 2

Jersey Shore000 01-1 4 2

Andrew Null, Dylan Fontenot (5) and Cameron Ott. Travis Eiswerth, Dylan Hamm (2), Logan English (5) and Christian Rishel. W-Null, (2-0). L-Eiswerth, (1-1).

Top Montoursville hitters: Pierce Ranck 1-2, 3 R; Ott 2-2, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R; Null 3-4, 3B, RBI, 3 R; Quinton Kuntz 3 RBI; Zach Pepperman 2 RBI; Aaron Cole 2-3, 2 RBI. Top Jersey Shore hitters: Rishel 2-2, 2B; Ryan Huling 1-2, 2B, RBI; Dan Wrench 1-1, 2B.

Records: Montoursville 3-1, 3-1 HAC-I. Jersey Shore 3-1, 3-1.