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Farnsworth critical in return to Spartans’ lineup

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Williamsport’s starting pitcher Michael Collyer (10) winds up during a high school baseball game against Jersey Shore on Thursday at Louge Field in Williamsport. Williamsport won 8-6.

Dylan Farnsworth went without a hit his previous two games. That is because he did not play.

So, when Farnworth’s opportunity came Saturday in the District 4 Class AAA quarterfinals, the junior pounced. Playing in his first postseason game, Farnsworth went 2 for 3 with a walk and three RBIs, helping Hughesville defeat North Penn-Mansfield, 13-5.

Farnsworth drove in a run in each of first three at-bats and was part of a 12-hit attack which helped Hughesville win its first playoff game since 2016. Hughesville also earned a spot in Tuesday’s semifinals at Central Columbia.

“I just go out there and swing for my team,” Farnsworth said. “It’s district playoffs and it’s a big spot, so I just go out and do my best for my team.”

That was just what Hughesville (13-8) needed against NP-Mansfield. Hughesville scored in each inning which Farnsworth batted. His two early RBIs gave it a 3-2 third-inning lead. Farnsworth provided a first inning lift as well, going the opposite way and hitting a two-out RBI single which made it 2-0.

Farnsworth is 3 for 4 over his last two games, reaching base five times and scoring four runs. The designated hitter had good approaches in each of his four at-bats Saturday. His production was especially helpful on a day NP-Mansfield appeared determined to record the upset after cutting a three-run deficit to 5-4 entering the fifth inning.

He never played as a sophomore due to COVID-19, so Farnsworth is treating each day as a precious opportunity right now. He opened the season with three doubles and five RBIs in Hughesville’s first three games, all victories, and now he could be heating up again at the perfect time.

“It’s a challenge. I missed my sophomore season last year so I’m just happy to be out here competing again as a junior,” Farnsworth said. “I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity.”

“Dylan wasn’t in the lineup the past couple games and he came in and was huge for us (Saturday). He put the ball in play, and he was consistently in the middle of good things for us,” Hughesville coach Chris Kish said. “Him doing those things for us (Saturday) absolutely was our spark. He’s continued to grind away. It consistently seems like the kid is in the middle of good things for us. I’m super proud of the kid and hopefully he can continue to do it for us Tuesday night.”

CONFERENCE

TOURNAMENT

The Class AAA semifinals now double as a HAC-II tournament. Hughesville defeated NP-Mansfield and Mount Carmel downed Wellsboro, 19-5, eliminating the two NTL-I teams. It left only HAC-II squads for the semifinals. Loyalsock plays Mount Carmel at Central at 4 p.m. Tuesday with Hughesville and Central playing the night game. Loyalsock, Central and Mount Carmel all competed in the 2019 semifinals as well.

This will be the fourth straight season the AAA championship includes only HAC-II teams. Montoursville defeated Central and Loyalsock in the previous two finals but is now playing in the Class AAAA field.

Speaking of Montoursville, it plays in the semifinals Wednesday against Athens with the winner meeting Midd-West in Saturday’s championship. All finals are scheduled to be played at Bowman Field.

ANOTHER CHANCE

It has been a rough year for Williamsport. Injuries have decimated the Millionaires at times and their 4-16 record is the worst in program history. Still, though, there remains hope in the form of a playoff appearance.

The Millionaires hosts Scranton in the quarterfinals Tuesday. A win there would earn them a semifinal appearance against undefeated Hazleton. In a sport as unpredictable as baseball crazy things have happened over the years, including Bellefonte entering the postseason with a losing record and then winning the 2016 Class AAAA state championship.

Redemption could be a win or two away.

PLAYOFF SPOILER

District 2’s MMI Prep held the fate of five District 4 AAAA teams in its hands last Wednesday when it hosted CMVT. CMVT entered at 8-9 and would qualify if it defeated MMI. Because Lewisburg, Danville, Jersey Shore and Mifflinburg all were ranked above CMVT in the power rankings, they also would have qualified with a CMVT win.

Alas, MMI won 7-0, creating the rarest of situation where one team eliminated five others. It also trimmed a potential eight-team district field to three and gave Midd-West a bye into the championship.

CLOSING STRONG

Had Jersey Shore qualified it may have been a tough out and pitcher Brandon Laubach would have been a big reason why. The junior right-hander overpowered Mifflinburg in a 2-1 victory, allowing no runs and striking out 13 in six innings. In his final two starts, Laubach went 2-0, surrendered no runs, just four hits and struck out 22 in 12 innings.

TODAY’S GAMES

District 4 Class AA takes center stage today with its four quarterfinals scheduled. This eight-team field is one of the state’s deepest with six teams having won at least 13 games. Two-time defending district champion South Williamsport hosts Wyalusing, Canton hosts Line Mountain, Muncy travels to Southern Columbia and top-seeded Sayre welcomes East Juniata following a near three-hour bus ride.

Dr. Masse’s Top Five

1. Central Mountain (14-5); 2. South Williamsport (15-5); 3. Loyalsock (14-6); 4. Canton (17-3); 5. Montoursville (13-7).

Players of the Week

Karter Peacock, Jersey Shore and Matt Worth, Loyalsock

Peacock closed out an impressive junior season by going 5 for 8 with a double and two runs. The center fielder hit .482 with four home runs this season. Worth continued his late-season tear and went 6 for 6 in two games, hitting a home run, a triple and two doubles as Loyalsock won both times. The junior infielder is 13 for 15 over his last five games.

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