Another offensive explosion for Keystone majors

CRESSONA – The Section 3 Major Boys tournament brought a new set of challenges for Keystone.

It’s opening game was a difficult six-inning contest, resulting in Keystone’s slimmest margin of victory – five runs – against Danville.

The second game presented an even more difficult challenge as Keystone faced host Cressona.

In its second pool-play game, the offense pounded out 15 hits and A.J. Smith and Aaron Swartz combined to toss a one-hitter as Keystone forced its sixth early stoppage in seven tries, defeating Cressona, 15-1, Sunday.

Keystone waits to face the winner of the consolation bracket final Tuesday at the Cressona Little League Complex.

“Saturday, it was a new atmosphere and everybody was kind of jittery. The first five guys in the line-up, that explains it right there,” Keystone manager Jim Corl said. “That top five was red hot, and they had only one hit. Sunday they got right back in it.”

The top five batters in the order combined for 10 of the team’s 15 hits, which also included getting nine runners home and scoring eight runs.

Asher Corl proved to be dangerous in all facets once again. The Keystone lead-off man turned a first-inning single into a run. He also connected with a home run on his second at-bat to extend a six-run second inning.

“It’s really important, because it pumps us up,” Asher Corl said of being the lead-off batter. “We just hit the ball really well. It really keeps us going.”

Corl made the most of the his chances on base.

Besides scoring on his first two opportunities, he also scored on a single in the third. He then ran by a stop sign from his third-base coach in the fourth to seal Keystone’s 14-run victory.

“He’s extremely aggressive,” Jim Corl said with a smile. “The passed ball (in the first), he lofted getting it, and Asher takes off for third. Then, once they over-threw third, he takes off for home. He’s also looking to take that extra advantage.”

And as Corl and the Keystone offense appeared to regain some of the momentum from the District 12 tournament, Smith lead the defense with six strikeouts. Aaron Swartz finished the final inning for a second consecutive night, getting two strikeouts and fielding the final out himself.

“A.J. (Smith) has just been so good throughout the year,” Jim Corl said. “He never walks a kid on four straight pitches, but he’s human. He really bounced back nicely and did a great job.”

Smith walked Ben Kramer to start the game. Kramer then became Cressona’s only run, scoring on three wild pitches which were the result of Smith’s control issues.

Smith quickly got back on track with two strikeouts to end the inning. Smith retired the next three batters before a Kramer single to open the third was followed by a quick groundout and two strikeouts.

Smith gave another free pass after Hunter Luckenbill reached when a third strike was sent to the backstop.

Now, Keystone earns a much needed day off after two lengthy trips back and fourth from Cressona over the weekend.

Keystone faces the winner of the consolation bracket Tuesday to decide the Section 3 champion. Whoever it is, either Danville, Cressona, or Potter McKean, they will need to beat Keystone two times to win the tournament.

Keystone 15, Cressona 1

Keystone264 3 – 15 15 0

Cressona100 0 – 1 1 1

A.J. Smith, Aaron Swartz (4), and Troy Gardner. Austin Clauser, Anthony Snesavage (3), and Luke Smith.

WP-Smith. LP-Clauser.

Top Keystone hitters: Asher Corl 3-3, HR, 4 runs, RBI; Troy Gardner 3-3, HR, 3 runs, 2 RBI; Swartz 2-4, 2 RBI; Mahlik Houtz 2-4, HR, 4 RBI, run; Ross Glossner 2B, 2 runs; Austin Rager 2-3, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 runs; Tanner Lavelle run, RBI. Top Cressona hitters: Ben Kramer 1-1, run.

Next: Keystone will play the winner of the consolation bracket final, Tuesday in Cressona at 5:30 p.m.