Big inning lifts Montour to title game

Generally speaking, baseball is a game that features low-scoring contests. If fans get to see their team score in double figures, it’s usually considered a pleasant oddity that isn’t expected.

However, fans of Montoursville probably don’t see it that way anymore. Their team has become exceptionally good at breaking the 10-run barrier, and on Sunday they did it again in their Section 3 Major Baseball winners’ bracket final.

Patient offense and timely hitting helped Montoursville top Potter-McKean in a 14-10 slugfest.

The District 12 champs scored in double digits for the sixth consecutive time.

Montoursville’s persistence at the plate allowed it to smack 10 hits and four home runs. They needed all of them to keep its distance from Potter-McKean, which belted four home runs and had nine hits.

The game got off to a rough start for Montoursville, when Potter-McKean shortstop Gavin Babcock hit a two-run home run over the left-field fence in the top of the first inning. Two batters later, Blake Burgett added a second home run.

Trailing 3-0, Montoursville cut a run off its deficit in the bottom of the inning when a wild pitch sent Jaxon Dalena home from third.

The top of the second inning also went a little rough for Montoursville after Howie Stuckey drove in three more Potter-McKean runs with a roaring shot over the right-field fence.

But when Montoursville took its at-bats in the bottom of the second, it was like a switch had been flipped. The team was all business at the plate, as it batted through the order twice, recording four hits and scoring 11 runs.

After seeing its leadoff batter strike out, the team put 11 of its next 12 batters on base. Two batters, Jaxon Dalena and Peyton Mussina, drove in runners with home runs. The onslaught of hits forced three Potter-McKean pitching changes in the second inning, and by the time Noah Wichert took the mound and stopped the bleeding, Montoursville had positioned itself with a 12-6 lead.

“When we are down, we can just hit the ball one through nine,” Dalena said. “Everybody can hit on our team.”

Dalena had his team’s best performance, hitting from the leadoff spot. He went 4 for 4 with two home runs, four RBIs and four runs scored. Mason Sechrist also had a phenomenal game, going 2 for 3 with a double, a home run and three RBIs.

“I always try to do the best I can,” Dalena said. “I don’t usually hit home runs, but I guess today was just a good day for me. I was just trying to hit some runs in, and that’s what happened.”

Over the next three innings, Montoursville added two more runs to its lead, and was able to keep the potent Potter-McKean offense at bay with nice play in the field and solid pitching. Cameron Wood took over on the mound in the top of the third for Montoursville and he pitched three innings in relief. Wood struck out six of the 14 batters he faced.

However, in the top of the sixth inning, Wood ran into some trouble when Gavin Babcock blasted his second home run of the game, a grand slam that brought his team within four runs. After that, Wood was relieved by Dalena, who closed things out nicely by forcing Camden Graves into a ground out.

With the win, Montoursville will continue its season at 6 p.m. Tuesday when they play the survivor of the losers’ bracket. That winner will need to defeat Montoursville twice to win the Section 3 championship.

Potter-McKean 330 004 – 10 9 1

Montoursville 1(11)1 10X- 14 10 1

Blake Burgett; Howie Stucky (2); Preston Cobb (2); Noah Wichert (2); Gavin Babcock (4) and Camden Graves. CJ Signor; Cameron Wood (3); Jaxon Dalena (6) and Cole Ranck.

Potter-McKean top hitters: Kolby VanWhy 1-3, 2 R; Howie Stuckey 2-3, HR, 3 RBI; 3 R; Gavin Babcock 3-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R; Camden Graves 1-4, HR, RBI, R; Colten Gietter 1-2, R; Noah Wichert 1-2, 2 R. Montoursville top hitters: Jaxon Dalena 4-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R; Cameron Wood 1-2, R; Mason Sechrist 2-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R; Dylan Moll 1-2, R; Peyton Mussina 3 RBI.