Keystone D12 champions in 10-11 Baseball

After Keystone’s Riley Houser struck out Loyalsock’s final batter to win the District 12 10-11 Baseball championship, Houser walked off the mound, threw her glove to the side and got in line to shake hands. No celebration, no jubilation and no fuss. That’s the way Keystone baseball operates, all business.

Houser and her teammates were all business Friday night as it scored 12 unanswered runs to win 12-3 at Volunteer Stadium. Keystone moves on to Section 3 play for the second consecutive year and will play the District 15 winner in District 13.

“They are very business-like, we preach that,” said Keystone coach Will Adair. “We call ourselves The Machine, we call ourselves the Keystone Baseball Machine. We talk about how kids, one part goes in, one part goes out. One part is as good as the next part and we pick each other up.”

Keystone wasn’t playing like a machine to start, after giving up three runs on two hits and three errors in the first inning. But it slowly settled in and showed why Keystone baseball has such a good reputation. Houser plated the first run with a two-out RBI double in the second inning. Keystone added three more runs in the third, two coming on Nick Longs’ two-run double to tie the game at three. Later in the inning, Brady Williams gave Keystone its first lead with his RBI single.

After struggling in the first inning, Colton Wagner found his groove and over his final 2 2/3 innings of work, allowed four hits and struck out four. But it was Houser who came in and pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, allowing just three base runners and no hits. She also had four strikeouts.

“She’s huge for us, she fits right in with the rest of the group,” said Adair. “From our very first practices she has been a leader. She came out hitting and hitting and hitting and she showed these boys that we’re going to be a strong hitting team.”

The team must have been paying attention to Houser, because eight players had at least one hit and 11 players reached base.

Keystone scored three more runs in the fourth and fifth inning but the final blow came in the sixth inning when it scored five times and put the game out of reach. Williams got the offense going with a two-run double, then later scored on a wild pitch and an error. After a hit-by-pitch, Houser had her second RBI double of the game and she eventually scored on an error to make it 12-3.

After losing to Keystone 18-2 on Monday, Loyalsock came out of the dugout swinging and looked like it was going to cruise after scoring three first-inning runs and capitalizing off Keystone errors. But after Loyalsock had two hits in the first, it amassed just five hits the rest of the way and couldn’t string hits together as it left 10 runners stranded.

Loyalsock has a very young team and most of its players will be back next year and probably in the championship game and with its new experience could be on the winning side.

“We have seven 10-year olds, that legitmately could start and play at nine and ten year old level,” said Gair. “And we’re here at the district championship against a very good Keystone team.”

Keystone 013 215- 12 14 4

Loyalsock 300 000- 3 6 5

Nic Barrone, Zamir Short (5th), Eli Gair (6th) and Brayden Miller.

Colton Wagner, Riley Houser (4th) and Nick Long, Gavin Toner (3rd), Long (4th). W- Wagner. L- Barrone.

Top Keystone hitters: Nick Long 2-3 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R; Brady Williams 2-3 3B, 3 RBI, R; Peyton Johnson 0-1 3 R; Riley Houser 2-4 2 2B, 2 RBI, R.

Top Loyalsock hitters: Nic Barrone 2-3 2B, RBI, R; Eli Gair 2-4 2B, R; Zamir Short 1-4 R.

Records: Loyalsock (3-2); Keystone (3-0)

Next: Keystone vs. District 15 winner at District 13 site (July 17, 5:30)