Keystone advances to district final
By BRETT R. CROSSLEY
For the Sun Gazette
It was a typical Keystone game where it just seemed to have the answer for each and everything the opposition attempted to do.
The offense produced 16 hits, Levi Schlesinger, Gabriel Johnson, and Nathan Wian combined for six solid innings, and every player contributed as it upended Montoursville 13-5 to advance to Friday’s District 12 Major Baseball Championship at Volunteer Stadium. Montoursville will play the winner of Loyalsock and Williamsport which play later today at Montoursville at 6 p.m.
Keystone’s Gardner Fravel had the unlucky spot of having to catch the entire game in nearly 100 degree heat. He didn’t seem to be bothered by the scorching temperatures. He blocked low pitches and moved around constantly to help his pitchers find spots.
Offensively he was just as good. He finished with two hits and two runs to go with an RBI. In the third inning he was able to advance a runner and reach first with a bunt that dribbled its way through the infield for a hit. It was a crucial moment in the game for Keystone as Braylen Corter drove in two runners with a single during the next at bat.
“He’s caught a lot of innings over the years and he’s gritty,” Johnson said. “He’s a team kid. That’s what I love about him. We told him he would have to be back there all day and we would just keep throwing water on him.”
Everybody was hot at the game, but Keystone just seemed to get better as it progressed. It scored ten runs over the third and fourth innings, connecting with nine of its 16 hits over the stretch.
Corter, who finished 2 for 3 with two runs scored and three RBI, drove in his third run of the game in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly to left field. He also had six putouts in the game, including the final out of the game. He fielded a grounder and made a quick toss to second to give Keystone the win.
“Defensively we just continue to do what we do,” Johnson said. “In the first inning they had the bases loaded and we had to push through that and we got in trouble again and we had to push through that. I’m just real proud of the team. They just keep playing.”
The defense was helped by the pitching performance of Gabriel Johnson, who opened the tournament with a win over Williamsport. Johnson entered in the second inning and kept Montoursville off the board until a late run in the sixth inning.
“It feels pretty good,” Johnson said. “I think we have more. I don’t think our bats have broken out yet.”
Montoursville had chances in the game. It stranded seven runners through the first three innings. In the first inning Montoursville was able to take advantage of three hits and two walks to score three runs. In the second, it was able to get the first two runners on, but two strike outs and a groundout ended the threat.
“It started well,” Montoursville manager Mark Mussina said. “We swung the bats well. We got off to a real good start. I was encouraged by our offense early, but their pitching settled in. We got some opportunities and just didn’t get the big hits”
Niko Rotoli continued to produce. He hit a single in the first and scored when Quinn Ranck, who finished with two hits and two RBIs, drove him in with a single to right field. Rotoli also hit a single in the sixth to score another run.
“We got some guys on base with some guys up that we wanted up,” Mussina said. “We hit some balls right at people or just didn’t come up with the big hit.”
MTV 310 001-5 9 0
KEY 304 60X-13 16 0
Quinn Ranck, Cole Johnson (4), Jaden Wilson (5), and Tyler Lightzee. Levi Schlesinger, Gabriel Johnson (2), Nathan Wian (6), and Gardner Fravel.
W- Johnson. L- Ranck.
Top Montoursville hitters: Dylan Bower 1-3, 2B, run; Niko Rotoli 2-4, 2 runs; Quinn Ranck 2-3, 2 RBI. Top Keystone hitters: Braylen Corter 2-3, 2 runs, 3 RBI; Elek Fravel 4-4, 2 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Levi Schlesinger 3-4, HR, run, 4 RBI; Gardner Fravel 2-4, 2 runs, RBI.