Keystone wins Section 3 Major Baseball championship
CRESSONA – After waiting patiently for nearly an hour as Keystone jumped out to a big lead, Ross Glossner finally got his chance to contribute.
On the second pitch of his fourth inning at bat, Glossner sent a grounder whistling down the third base line. To the surprise of Glossner and most of the Keystone fans, it was ruled a foul ball.
Keystone manager Jim Corl even swung his hands in frustration, but the call stood.
Just two pitches later, Glossner connected with the first of two home runs to put a big smile on his coach’s face.
Glossner finished with two pitch-hit home runs, Troy Gardner posted five doubles, and Aaron Swartz picked up the win and went 6 for 6 as Keystone sailed to the Section 3 title with a 25-2 win over host Cressona.
Keystone will now head to Bradford for the state tournament, which is pool play. Keystone opens on Sunday at 7 vs. Huntingdon, which won the Section 4 title Tuesday over State College National, 10-2.
Glossner’s fourth inning blast gave Keystone a nine-run lead at the time. It also provided some humor as Keystone turned the game into a rout, scoring 20 of its runs over the final three innings.
“It was fair,” Glossner said of the grounder down the third base line. “I just know I had a great at bat. It’s fun hitting home runs.”
“It was clearly fair, but the next pitch he hits a home run,” Corl said. “It’s awesome to do that.”
Glossner then missed his chance to contribute in the fifth as the final out came one batter before him. It didn’t take long for him to help in the sixth, though.
On the second offering from Alex Sattizahn, Glossner sparked the offense with a home run to open the inning.
“It’s just incredible,” Jim Corl said of Glossner. “I have 11 kids, and it’s just so hard to find a place to sub. It’s just crazy.”
Keystone also received a two-run home run from Mahlik Houtz, a three-run double from Gardner, and a two-run double from Swartz to post 13 runs in the final inning.
Gardner and Swartz were especially dangerous.
Gardner posted six of his team-high seven RBIs over his final three plate appearances. He doubled in the fifth to score a run. He then doubled twice in the sixth to drive in three more runs.
Swartz, who pitched all six innings to get the win, got a hit each time he was up, posting six hits to go with five runs and seven RBIs.
“Gardner and Swartz were just uncontrollable to tonight,” Jim Corl said. “They were seeing it today.”
Initially, Swartz struggled to find his rhythm on the mound.
After a fly-out to open the game, Austin Clauser and Hunter Luckenbill hit consecutive singles to score Cressona’s first run. An uncharacteristic error followed at third to help Cressona get its second run.
Swartz’s luck on the mound changed once he was able to throw his curveball for a strike. After the first inning, Swartz posted nine strikeouts and scattered two hits to keep Cressona off the scoreboard.
“You can’t blow fastball after fastball by everybody,” Jim Corl said. “You have to have something to mix in there. He definitely does a nice job with his curveball and mixing it in.”
The difference could be see almost immediately, as Swartz posted three consecutive strikeouts in the second inning. In all three instances, Swartz got the final strike with his curve ball.
“He wasn’t calling my fastball for a strike,” Swartz said. “He liked the curveball, so I had to throw a bunch of those.”
Swartz, who received run support in all but one inning, made two appearances in relief in Keystone’s first two games. He finally picked up the win in Tuesday’s Section 3 final.
Keystone 230 43(13)-25 24 1
Cressona 200 000-2 4 1
Aaron Swartz and Troy Gardner. Nate Nabholz, Rob Carretta (5), Alex Sattizahn (6), Bailey Reichert (6), and Austin Clauser. WP-Swartz. LP-Nabholz.
Top Keystone hitters: Asher Corl 3-5, 4 runs, RBI; Troy Gardner 5-6, 5 2B, 5 runs, 7 RBI; Swartz 6-6, 3 2B, 2 runs, 7 RBI; Mahlik Houtz HR, run, 2 RBI; Ross Glossner 2-3, 2 HR, 2 runs, 4 RBI.
Next: Keystone at State tournament in Bradford, Pa. Tournament starts Sunday at 7 p.m.