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NTL BASEBALL: WYALUSING STARTS HOT AS THEY PULL AWAY FROM MONTGOMERY AND INTO DISTRICT FINAL (2024-05-23)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
WILLIAMSPORT — Wyalusing showed their battle hardened experience in their 11-3 win over Montgomery in the District IV, Class AA semifinals on Wednesday.

They were unaffected by the weather delays, jumped out early, responded when Montgomery fought back, and pulled away to punch their ticket to their second straight district title game.


“They’re a good team, but pretty young, so we felt like we needed to take advantage of them,” said Wyalusing coach Nick Vanderpool. “Their one ace, 51 innings pitched and, I think 111 strikeouts, that’s over two outs an inning by strikeouts, so I told the boys make the defense work, and put the ball in play. Not only did we make the defense work but we hit the snot out of the ball for a lot of hits, too.”


They pounded out nine hits, four of them of the extra base variety, capped off by a Hunter House home run. 


The Rams also got out of jams as Montgomery stranded eight runners on base for the game. After a so-so first inning House settled down and went four to get the win, striking out three with two walks, three hits, and two earned runs.


“It feels great because people have been doubting us since the beginning of the season,” House said. “We’ve had our ups and downs, that’s for sure, but we know the team that we are and what we’re capable of. This feels great to come out here and play like we can.”


Parker Petlock went the final three innings, striking out three with three hits, one walk, and one earned run.


At the plate Kenny Mapes (3-for-4) had two doubles with 2-RBI and a run scored, as Kaeden Kusmierz (2-for-2) had a double with 2-RBI and a run scored.


House (1-for-2) had the 2-run home run, as Trehnon Hugo (1-for-3) knocked in two runs with a run scored.


Petlock (1-for-4) scored a run while CJ Carr scored three times with an RBI. Casey God (1-for-3) had a hit, Isaac Shaffer scored a run, and Nick Vanderpool Jr. drove in two runs on one of the most unusual plays you’ll see in a baseball game.


“I told the boys after the Canton game we won but we didn’t hit well, so we’ve got to hit better,” coach Vanderpool said. “Our Achilles’ Heel sometimes is getting them on, and not getting them in, and tonight we got them in.”


Parker Bennett (3-for-4) had two triples to lead Montgomery, scoring twice while driving in a run. 


Briar Persing took the loss, striking out four with four walks, six hits, and seven runs, five of them earned, in two innings of work. 


The Rams led 3-2 after the first, then kept scoring, getting two in the second, three in the third, and two more in the fourth to take a 10-2 lead. They scored another in the sixth, but Montgomery getting one in the bottom of the seventh for the 11-3 final.


“Hunter House pitches so good with a lead,” said Vanderpool. “It was big to be up like that and really be able to save our pitching, and be lined up for Saturday.”


In the first Carr led off with a walk, then scored two batters later on a Hugo single. Hugo then came all the way around to score on a Mapes double for a 2-0 lead.


After a second out God kept things going by drawing a walk, setting up Kusmierz run scoring hit to make it 3-0.


The Red Raiders got two back in the bottom half of the inning, thanks largely to Bennett’s RBI triple as Montgomery’s second batter.


House settled down after that, though, striking out two of the next three batters.


“It was a little nervous but after that at bat I just really locked myself in, and wen out there and just tried to throw strikes,” said House. “It definitely gives you more confidence to be able to get ahead and give up a few base runners, if you can, and just hit your spots.”


In the second Shaffer led off by drawing a walk, then scored on an error off the bat of Carr.


After an out Hugo plated Carr on a sacrifice fly to take a 5-2 lead.


In the third Kusmierz led off with a double as Montgomery’s centerfielder lost the ball in the sun.


Petlock then reached on an infield hit, while Shaffer was hit by a pitch on an 0-2 count to load the bases.


Carr would drive in Kusmierz on a fielder’s choice as Shaffer was out advancing to second.


Then came Vanderpool’s little dribbler out in front of home. All the players in the infield stopped playing because they thought it was a foul ball.


The umpires called it live, and Petlock snuck home to score. Montgomery would get Vanderpool out at first but Carr came around to score, pushing the lead to 8-2.


The Raiders got runners on second and third with 2-outs in the bottom half fo the inning but House induced a ground out to get out of the jam.


In the fourth Mapes led off with a double, then House took a 2-1 pitch and hit it over the right field fence for the 10-2 lead.


“It feels amazing, I’ve been slumping a little bit lately,” House said. “It just feels great to finally gout of the slump, and know that I can hit the ball.”


The at bat before he hit one just as far but foul.


“I wasn’t really trying to get one, I was trying to get the barrel to the ball and let it travel,” House explained.


The Raiders would strand two in the bottom half of the inning, then looked prime to get back into the game in the fifth.


They loaded the bases with 2-outs but Petlock induced a fly ball to God for the ender to keep it an 8-run lead.


In the sixth House earned a 1-out walk. His courtesy runner, Lex Franklin then came around to score on a Kusmierz sacrifice fly for the 11-2 score.


Montgomery used another Bennett triple in the bottom of the seventh for their final run.


They win guarantees them a state game, and they’ll face-off with a familiar foe in the district title game - Troy or South Williamsport.


They were tied 2-2 in the top of the third when a storm hit, suspending their game until Thursday.


That’s good for Wyalusing as it could limit their pitching options while the Rams have everybody available.


“Both of those teams are really good, well-coached, athletic teams,” Vanderpool said. “We kind of have game plans because we’ve seen them before - we’ve seen Troy a lot, we’ve seen South a lot over the last couple of years, whoever we get we’ll definitely go give it our best. We get another trip to states, which is pretty special for these guys.”


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PHOTO CAPTION: Wyalusing’s Hunter House smiles as he rounds third base after hitting his home run…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING



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