Slow start dooms Keystone in elimination game of Section 3 tourney

SELINSGROVE –Keystone found itself down early for a third straight time as it took on Orwigsburg during its first elimination game of the Section 3 Major Baseball Tournament at East Snyder Park in Selinsgrove.

Keystone was able to come back in the bottom of the first, but just couldn’t keep Orwigsburg’s offense down as it scored runs in all but one inning to claim a 13-9 victory over the District 12 Champion. Orwigsburg will take on Warrior Run later today at 5:30 p.m. to determine the Section 3 Championship. Orwigsburg will have to defeat Warrior Run twice.

“They came right back and stuck with it there at the beginning,” Keystone manager Ben Mahoney said. “It wasn’t a problem today. There were too many walks. Costly errors. There were a few baserunning mistakes. It was a lot of mental errors today.”

At times, Keystone seemed like it just couldn’t get out of its own way.

Bryce Brungard started the game, but was quickly pulled in the second when he walked the bases loaded after recording a strikeout to open the inning. He then walked four batters to give Orwigsburg a run back before Mahoney called on Kerstetter to get out of the jam.

Kerstetter gave up a sacrifice fly to Tay Kaunas before forcing a flyout to right field to end the inning. In the third, Kerstetter wasn’t as sharp as he gave up five singles, a double, and a walk as Orwigsburg rallied to score seven runs in the third inning.

“It’s a huge motivator,” Orwigsburg coach Aaron Barnes said. “You see the scoreboard and look up there and you’re winning rather than trailing against a team like that. Every inning that we were able to hold on to the lead, these kids believed more and more and it worked out in the end. It was fantastic.”

Kaunas, who hit a double in the third, carried the big bat for Orwigsburg as he finished with two hits, a run scored and three more batted home. He hit a single in the first to score a run. Hit a sacrifice fly in the second and cleared the bases with a double in the third.

Keystone deployed a group of pitchers to try and contain Orwigsburg’s offense, but each was hit around until Hart Fletcher, Jr. entered in the fifth. Fletcher was the only Keystone pitcher to post a clean inning in the game as retired Orwigsburg in the sixth in order.

“We were looking for someone who threw off-speed and could throw a curveball,” Mahoney said. “Obviously, everybody knows we are trying to save Hart for the next day or the following day. You have to win today, but we would have been in the same boat with pitching against Warrior Run.”

It’s rare to see a Keystone team battle with pitching changes, but that’s what happened as it just ran out of arms to slowdown Orwigsburg’s offense.

Orwigsburg 13, Keystone 9

Orwigsburg 227 110 –13 10 2

Keystone 412 110 –9 11 2

Ben Kreitzer, Drew Seaman (5), and Hunter Blankenhorn. Bryce Brungard, Griffin Kerstetter (2), Cole Bailey (2), Hart Fletcher, Jr., and Eli Bailey.

W — Kreitzer. L — Kerstetter.

Top Orwigsburg hitters: Aiden Grace 2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Ty Kaunas 2-4, 2B, run, 2 RBI. Top Keystone hitters: Griffin Kerstetter 1-3, 2B, 2 runs; Jake Weaver 3-3, 2B, 2 runs, RBI; Gage Laughner 1-2, 2B, RBI.

Records: Orwigsburg 2-1. Keystone 1-2.

Next: Orwigsburg vs. Warrior Run at East Snyder Park, Tuesday, 5:30 p.m.

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