Northern Tier Sports Report
CANTON — It’s not the playoffs yet but don’t tell Wyalusing and Canton that, as their NTL tilt on Saturday had the feel of a district game. Neither team gave an inch until Wyalusing was able to get some clutch hits in the top of the eighth to beat the Warriors, 4-2 in eight innings, during NTL baseball action.

“We left a lot of guys on base,” said Wyalusing coach Nick Vanderpool. “I that we had the bases loaded in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, we’ve got to figure out a way to get those guys in, but we got out of a couple jams, too. Canton is a well coached team and played really well, it was going to be a good game. The district is wide open, and it probably lets everybody know there’s five or six teams in here (that can win it.)”

They end the week on a positive note as their 8-7 loss to Athens in the second of a double-header on Friday likely ended their chance at the NTL Division-I title, and possibly even a home playoff game.

Still, this is Canton’s first league loss, who clinched their second straight NTL Division-II title weeks ago.

“I don’t think we can climb above the five seed anyway,” said Vanderpool. “But it definitely feels good to try to end the season here on a high note.”

After being stuck at 2-2 for four innings it was Nick Vanderpool Jr. hitting an 0-2 pitch with two outs into left field to score CJ Carr for the go ahead run. 

Trehnon Hugo then doubled Vanderpool in to give them some cushion.

“I just wanted to put the ball in play,” Vanderpool Jr. said. “Just find some grass and score CJ on second base.”

Hugo (3-for-4) had 2-RBI and a run scored while Vanderpool Jr. (1-for-2) walked three times, had the RBI and a run scored.

Kenny Mapes (2-for-5) had a multi-hit game as Casey God (1-for-3) and Isaac Shaffer (1-for-4) also had hits. Hunter House drove in a run with Carr (1-for-5) also scoring.

House started, and went 6 1/3-innings before he maxed out on pitches. He struck out eight in the no decision, with two walks, two hits, and two runs, one of which was earned.

Parker Petlock came on for the final 1 2/3-innings for the win, striking out one with one walk, two hits, and no runs.

“Parker’s a gamer,” said coach Vanderpool. “Hunter, you know what you’re going to get with him on the mound. He really settled down after the first inning - I think he had bases loaded with nobody out in the first inning and we get out of that with just the one run, which is big. Parker’s a gamer, he’s going to come in and do his job. I love having him on the mound, as well, so it was good.”

This game snaps Canton’s 8-game win streak, and their hold over close wins. During that stretch they won six games by 4-runs or less, and the law of averages eventually caught up to them.

“Losing a close one is definitely gut wrenching but I think it’s good for us moving forward,” said Canton coach Ben Rubert. “We’ve won a lot of tight ones, so we’ve never been on this side of it, so it’s a reality check.”

They had two on with one out in both the seventh and eighth innings, but couldn’t get the one hit they needed.

“We had a couple of opportunities later, and we just didn’t put one across,” said Rubert. “This is a good look moving forward into the playoffs, we could run into them again.”

Ben Fitch (1-for-4) had a double with Holden Ward (1-for-1) walking twice and scoring twice.

Hudson Ward (1-for-3) had an RBI, with Bailey Gardner (1-for-4), Michael Beers (1-for-4), and Cohen Landis (1-for-3) each getting hits. Zach Colton added an RBI.

Holden Ward went the first four innings with 72 pitches for the no decision. He struck out two with five walks, four hits, and two earned runs.

Colton went the final four innings on 57 pitches to take the loss. He had no strikeouts, no walks, three hits, and two earned runs.

The Rams jumped out with two runs in the top of the first as Vanderpool drew a 1-out walk. He later scored on a Hugo hit.

Mapes kept the rally going with a hit, setting up House’s sacrifice fly that brought in Hugo for the 2-0 lead.

In the bottom half of the inning Canton’s first three batters all reached on singles. A fielder’s choice off the bat of Colton brought in Holden Ward.

House, though, got a strikeout and a pop out to end the inning, containing the damage.

Wyalusing would use three walks to load the bases with one out in the third, but Canton catcher, Gardner, caught Vanderpool stealing third, then Holden Ward got the ender with a strikeout.

Holden Ward then went to town on the base paths in the bottom half of the inning. He reached on a walk, then stole second and third, setting out Hudson Ward’s run scoring ground out to tie the game up.

The Rams loaded the bases in the fourth with two outs, but Holden Ward got a ground out to end the threat.

In the fifth Wyalusing loaded the bases with one out but Colton induced back to back pop ups to get out of the jam.

The Warriors loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the inning, but House came back from a 2-0 count to get a strikeout. He then got a ground out to end the threat.

Wyalusing didn’t threaten much over the next two innings but Canton had a good shot at a walk-off in the bottom of the seventh.

They got two on with no outs but Petlock got two straight pop outs to end the inning.

In the top of the eighth Petlock reached when getting hit by a pitch. Two batters later Canton caught him at second on a fielder’s choice.

With two outs Wyalusing rolled the dice and Carr steal second. That set up Vanderpool Jr’s big hit to bring him in. 

“He walked the first three times up there, he really made Ward work,” coach Vanderpool said about Nick’s day. “We probably saw 26, 27 pitches his first three at bats, which is good. He’s the kind of guy you want up there, he’s always kind of thrived in those pressure situations. 

Hugo then hit a first pitch double over the left fielder’s head to drive in Vanderpool for a 4-2 lead.

Canton got their chance and Fitch got them going with a 1-out, first pitch double. Beers then singled to put runners on the corners with one out.

Rylan Wesneski came in to run for Beers, and Canton gambled with a steal. It paid off as they got the tying run on second.

Petlock, though, got a strikeout for out two, then got the ender with a pop up to Mapes at third to end the game.

“That insurance run made it a little easier knowing that the tying run is on second, and not the winning,” said coach Vanderpool.

If anything this win shows the district that they’re still the defending champions.

“It’s a big win, they’re the two seed, we’re the five right now,” said Vanderpool Jr. “It shows everybody that we’re still capable of winning a district title.”

Canton (14-4) has two games left - at Montoursville on Monday and then at Athens on Tuesday.

Wyalusing (14-5) will end their regular season at Elk Lake on Wednesday.

“We’re going to try to win that one against Elk Lake on Wednesday,” said Vanderpool Jr. “Then line-up our pitching and go win another district title.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Wyalusing’s Parker Petlock celebrates after getting the final out to beat Canton…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING

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