Keystone wins 3rd consecutive District 12 championship

BRETT R. CROSSLEY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Keystone’s Gage Laughner slides home on a passed ball during the District 12 major baseball championship at Volunteer Stadium on Saturday.

For the second time in as many days, Volunteer Stadium played host to a District 12 championship game.

Saturday, it was the major baseball championship that hung in the balance as Keystone took on Loyalsock for a second time. Keystone reached the final with a win over Loyalsock that only took five innings.

It was a little different Saturday as Keystone and Loyalsock went the distance in a 6-0 Keystone win that gave Keystone its third consecutive District 12 championship.

Keystone will advance into the Section 3 tournament at East Snyder Park in Selinsgrove.

Keystone will open against the District 15 champion Saturday at 2 p.m.

Loyalsock appeared to be the more energized team to open the game. It was especially clear when Cole Bailey was caught heading to second on a double steal. Griffin Kerstetter, who reached with a leadoff single, didn’t advance home on the play and was eventually stranded.

Keystone got a jolt in the bottom half of the inning when Hart Fletcher, Jr. recorded a strikeout and Isaiah Maldonado picked a runner off at second.

“Hart is a very difficult pitcher and he pitched great today,” Keystone manager Brad Mahoney said. “The defense came through for us. It feels amazing. We’ve been working for three straight weeks and it’s nice to see the hard work paying off.”

It’s been three weeks of constant work for Keystone, which opened the District 12 tournament with a win over Williamsport. Keystone went on to defeat South Williamsport and then Loyalsock twice on its way to the championship.

In Saturday’s game, the pinch-hitters came through as three of Keystone’s four substitutions recorded hits and scored runs.

In the third Bryce Brungard came on for Jake Weaver and instantly made an impact with a triple down the left field line. Brungard wasn’t on third long as he scored on the next at bat when Fletcher hit a double.

“I just motivate myself and I’m just happy I’m on this team,” Brungard said. “It was a little frustrating at first, but I kind of go used to it and developed his pitching and put the bat on the ball. He pitched me an inside pitch and I decided to turn on it.”

In the fourth inning, Zach St. Clair hit a single and scored when Eli Bailey hit a double. Donevan Seyler then came on as a pinch-hitter and connected with an RBI single to score St. Clair. Griffin Kerstetter then hit a double to score Donevan.

“It’s hard to come off the bench and just swing the bat,” Mahoney said. “It makes it difficult to figure out who your nine kids on the field are going to be. They did great today.”

Keystone used a dominant second inning in the first matchup with Loyalsock, scoring six runs on four hits to advance with a 10-0 victory. Jase Seltzer highlighted the first matchup with two singles and three runs scored. Hart Fletcher, who also started that game, connected with a homerun in the game, as well.

“It feels really good,” Fletcher said. “This is our third year in a row. We have a couple new faces and I’m really excited for them. I’m excited for what we can do in the future.”

Keystone 6, Loyalsock 0

(DISTRICT 12 MAJOR BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP)

Keystone 012 300 — 6 10 1

Loyalsock 000 000 — 0 6 0

Hart Fletcher, Jr., Gage Laughner (6), and Eli Bailey. Chase Miller, Jeremiah Johnson (4), and Jeremiah Johnson, Miller (4). W–Fletcher, Jr. L–Miller.

Top Keystone hitters: Griffin Kerstetter 2-4, 2B, 2 RBIs; Bryce Brungard 1-1, 3B, run, RBI; Hart Fletcher, Jr. 1, 2B, RBI; Eli Bailey 2-3, 2B, run, RBI. Top Loyalsock hitters: Drake Dupont 2-3.

Next game: Keystone vs. District 15 winner at East Snyder Park in Selinsgrove, Saturday, 2 p.m.

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