Wood mature beyond his years

Montoursville Little Leaguer Cameron Wood wears No. 34. Watch him play, listen to him talk and one thinks he resembles someone that age. Wood is only 12 but that age is just a number.

Wood plays and carries himself more like a coach than a player. And that is a huge reason Montoursville is still playing, still chasing every Little Leaguer’s ultimate dream.

Wood closed out Montoursville’s 8-6 Section 3 Major championship win over Potter McKean Wednesday, throwing 1 2/3 hitless innings as Montoursville rallied for a dramatic win. Next up is the state tournament that starts Saturday in Lower Perkiomen Valley. Montoursville plays the Section 6 champion. It is a bigger stage but that should not faze a player who seems at home in pressure moments.

“Watching the people on TV and watching the major leaguers… I’ve always dreamed of it,” Wood said after closing out Montoursville’s first Section 3 championship since 2002. “I felt confident because I had the team behind me.”

“Cameron is above and beyond maturity for his age,” Montoursville coach Lee Ranck said. “With him on the mound I was pretty confident because I’ve been around the kid a few years and he’s a great kid.”

Wood combined with starter Logan Ott on a five-hitter against a powerhouse offense that scored 24 runs and hit six home runs the previous night. Ott kept Montoursville in the game before reaching his pitch limit and Wood set the stage for a thrilling game-winning rally, retiring the last two batters he faced in the fifth inning.

After Austin Loe, Jaxon Dalena and Ott singled in the sixth and Hunter Shearer hit an RBI grounder, Mon-toursville took an 8-6 lead and suddenly was three outs from doing something no Montoursville team had done since 2002. Getting those three outs would be difficult, however, against a team that had scored 36 runs in its previous two games.

When it would be too tough for many pitchers in that situation, it was just right for Wood. Like his teammates, he works hard, but he also possesses the vital intangible that is staying cool when the pressure is its hottest.

“When he was out there I felt very comfortable. He was the guy we had to have close it,” Ranck said. “I knew he would come in and throw strikes and I knew the situation wouldn’t bother him. He had a job to do and he did it and I’m proud of him. I’m not surprised because he’s a heck of a kid.”

Wood retired the leadoff hitter via groundout to start the sixth before two straight runners reached second and third on errors. Potter McKean’s Nos. 2-3 hitters were coming up, but Wood did not flinch. He went ahead 0-2 on the next batter before catcher Cole Ranck hustled after a wild pitch and flipped to Wood who tug out the lead runner at home.

The tying run was still at the plate, but Wood ended the threat and clinched the championship one pitch later, inducing a game-ending groundout. Seconds later, he was at the bottom of the dogpile just like he was following the District 12 championship victory.

“I was just trying to throw strikes and give our fielder’s a chance,” Wood said. “I was confident we would get out of it. I felt a lot more comfortable when we got that guy out at home. That put us two outs and one strike away.”

Wood can hit and field just as well as he pitches. He plays a strong shortstop when not pitching and is one of the team’s top hitters, batting out of the No. 3 spot. He homered in Montoursville’s Section 3 opening-round win over Selinsgrove and has been a big part of an offense that has scored 94 runs in nine games.

Wood seems prepared for every situation because he basically knows every situation. Despite his age, Wood already is a baseball encyclopedia who can tell one anything he or she wants to know about the major leagues. He also is a student of the game and his knowledge is as valuable an asset as his talent. He even has mastered the art of the sports cliches professionals often use, including how Montoursville was looking ahead to states in Tuesday’s loss instead of taking things one game at a time.

Sunday, the rest of the state might start learning something Montoursville Little League already knows. Wood is a 12-year-old going on 22.

“Cameron Wood is absolutely the fourth coach of this team. He knows more about baseball than pretty much everybody,” Ranck said. “He follows it and every situation he knows what’s going on.

“He’s one step ahead of everybody.”