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Dominant first inning lifts Jersey Shore baseball over St. John Neumann

Jersey Shore's Tyler Bauder warms up before a game against St. John Neumann. The Bulldogs made eight hits and nine runs in the top of the first inning to defeat the Golden Knights, 11-1 in five innings at Bowman Field Tuesday. EVAN WHEATON/Sun-Gazette

There’s been no shortage of buildup between the meeting between Jersey Shore and St. John Neumann’s baseball teams.

Bulldogs first-year coach Sadiq Burkholder and his father, Cory, met on the diamond head-to-head for bragging rights on Tuesday.

“He’s been talking trash since October when I got the schedule,” Sadiq said. “Leading up to it these past two weeks it got worse, but he’s been doing it the past five, six months.”

Sadiq took that trash talk, but his batters lit it up in response. Jersey Shore defeated the Golden Knights, 11-1 in five innings at Bowman field.

The Bulldogs (4-14) exploded out of the gate with eight hits and nine runs across 29 pitches and a pair of errors in the field in the top of the first inning.

“I knew he was going to have his team well prepared. Those guys playing here, the seniors never playing here (before), they didn’t show any nerves,” Cory said. “He did a good job of having his guys prepared. We did talk a lot of junk to each other, it was a good rivalry. Very good history-making game for District 4, I’m very proud of his efforts.”

The opening frame was a wealth of riches for Jersey Shore’s entire lineup. Kooper Peacock (two RBI), Tyler Bauder (three RBI), Eddy Danneker and Connor Davis all went 2 for 3 at the plate.

Bauder batted second in the lineup and hit an RBI triple for the first run of the game, followed by an RBI triple from Brandon Laubach immediately after.

Laubach held the Golden Knights (8-8) to two hits and struck out 11 batters while the Bulldogs unloaded 11 hits of their own.

“We kinda caught our stride pretty late. Last couple games, we’ve been hitting the crap out of the ball and we kinda just carried the same energy from the past couple games into today,” Sadiq said. “The energy was super high, they were super focused off the bus, so when you have that kind of energy off the bus, it makes it easy at the plate early on.”

In the top of the second inning, another pair of errors brought in two more runs for Jersey Shore. St. John Neuman had six errors on the night.

Jerval Weeks-Shuler plated the lone run for the Golden Knights. After recording the first hit of the game for St. John Neuman in the bottom of the second, he worked his way to third base and took a daring run home on a pitch, narrowly beating the tag.

Both fields battled from there, not letting anything up even when runners were in scoring position.

“When we first started this game, I think our nerves got the better of us and they took advantage,” Cory said. “After we settled in, we started playing our game, but it was too late.”

After relieving Kane Wright to start the second, Aiden Vogt limited Jersey Shore to just three hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts the rest of the way. But with such a large cushion from the rip, the Bulldogs put much of the focus into playing the field right back.

“I think we just calmed down a little bit. The energy was really high, so when the ball gets hit the energy is through the roof, might lose focus for a second,” Sadiq said. “I think the excitement of the game in the first inning finally calmed off and we were able to focus up on defense.”

The Golden Knights players, coaching staff and fans wore pink shirts to raise awareness for breast cancer. Two St. John Neumann alumni, Kyle Ferguson and Brandon Loner, have mothers who are breast cancer survivors who were in attendance at Bowman Field.

“We try to honor them and keep the tradition going and give praise and accolades to them,” Cory said. “They’re both survivors and they were both here tonight supporting our program.”

The game was also senior day for both programs given the neutral site. Due to both programs not taking part in the Backyard Brawl and seniors having missed out on postseason competition, holding a game at Bowman field was an important factor in scheduling the game between both Burkholders.

“I think it’s huge. It sucks because our seniors haven’t been able to play in the playoffs, haven’t been able to play in districts or anything like that, so at least getting one game here was pretty big,” Sadiq said. “That’s part of the reason my dad wanted to have it here, to give his seniors a chance to go out at Bowman.”

Cory added, “It’s a great atmosphere. We were able to honor our seniors, our booster club president Shelby Bright did a good job orchestrating the whole thing, so I have to take my hat off for her. It was just a great moment for District 4 and Williamsport area baseball.”

Jersey Shore 920 00 — 11 11 2

St. John Neumann 010 00 — 1 2 4

Brandon Laubach and Ian Carlin. Kane Wright, Aiden Vogt (2) and Jerval Weeks-Shuler. W: Laubach. L: Wright.

Top Jersey Shore hitters: Kooper Peacock 2-3, 2 RBI; Tyler Bauder 2-3, 3 RBI; Eddy Danneker 2-3; Connor Davis 2-3.

Records: Jersey Shore 4-14; St. John Neumann 8-8.

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