Line Mountain takes long, winding trip into semis

·5 min read

Jun. 11—PINE GROVE — Line Mountain will always remember its first trip to the PIAA Class 2A semifinals, but not for some of the reasons one might think.

The Eagles' path to that victory was anything but easy — a rainstorm caused a site change and a delay as there was a Class 3A game scheduled at Pine Grove before Line Mountain and Brandywine Heights could take the field.

The Eagles had nary a base runner for five innings, and had a bases-loaded threat ended by a base-running mistake in the sixth inning.

However, despite the bad start on offense, Line Mountain still had Kya Matter in the circle, and an unwavering belief in itself.

The Eagles scored four runs in the top of the eighth, and Matter retired the final 16 hitters of the game as Line Mountain picked up a 4-0 win over Brandywine Heights at Susan Stump Stadium at Pine Grove High School on Thursday.

Line Mountain (21-3) advances to face Williams Valley, a 7-2 winner over Mount Union, on Monday in the semifinals at a site and time to be determined. The Vikings beat Line Mountian 14-5 on April 8.

"All season we talked about getting back there, getting a chance in the postseason to play Williams Valley again," Matter said of the only team to beat her this season. "We want to prove ourselves. We are a Line Mountain team that is making history.

"Just to make it this far is just amazing."

Two key at-bats early in the eighth inning paid off as the Eagles finally broke through against Bullets pitcher Meghann Schuster.

With one out in the eighth, Aspen Walker hit a grounder to shortstop. Walker, who recently returned from an injury, still isn't 100 percent.

The junior knew she had to run as hard as she could.

"No, (the knee isn't 100 percent), but I knew I had to kick it up a notch, and get into second gear," Walker said with a laugh. "Once I got three-quarters of the way there, and the ball wasn't there, I had a feeling she bobbled it."

Brooke Barwick then pinch ran. Walker talked to the next hitter Jordan Brezgel for a moment, before Brezgel's second attempt at a sacrifice turned into a bunt single.

That brought No. 9 hitter Emily Gonsar to the plate. She had the lone Line Mountian hit in the first seven innings, but "was very nervous."

"I was shaking the whole time," she said.

She quickly fell behind 0-2, but worked the count back to 3-2, and then fouled off a pitch, before working the walk to load the bases.

"It was a struggle because the strike zone was all over the place. The one I fouled off was a little outside, but I was worried he'd call it a strike," Gonsar said.

That brought Matter to the plate, who ripped a hard grounder into the hole between first and second. Bullets second baseman Naomi Fay made an outstanding diving stop, but Matter beat the throw, and courtesy runner Brooke Barwick scored the first run of the game.

Brooke Novinger then reached on a fielder's choice as Brezgel was thrown out at home on a grounder to shortstop.

Cassie Laudenslager fell behind 0-2, before working an RBI walk on seven pitches. Kylie Klinger then singled home two runs for a 4-0 advantage.

That would be all Matter needed as she got a pair of strikeouts, and induced a groundout to second baseman Cheyenne Ebersole to end the game.

The Eagles righty was again dominant, though the Bullets did get some base runners early. Fay — who scored the game-winning run without a hit in the state first round — walked and stole second and third with one out in the top of the first.

However, Matter struck out the next two hitters with Fay on third to end the Bullets' best threat of the game.

Aubrey Reinhart singled in the third for the only Brandywine Heights hit, and stole second with two outs, but she was the Bullets' final base runner.

Matter struck out 17 hitters in eight innings, and the Bullets put only two balls into the outfield against Matter.

Schuster was nearly as dominant as Matter, but in a different matter — at least for the first five innings. Line Mountain put the ball in play — the Eagles struck out seven times — but Schuster didn't allow much hard contact.

Gonsar finally touched her for a single with two outs in the sixth after Schuster retired the first 17 hitters of the game.

Matter then walked and Novinger reached on the Bullets' first error.

However, the Bullets threw behind Novinger at first base for the final out ending Line Mountain's best threat in regulation.

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PIAA PLAYOFFS

CLASS 2A QUARTERFINALS

at Susan Stump Stadium, Pine Grove H.S.

LINE MOUNTAIN 4,

BRANDYWINE HEIGHTS 0 (8 innings)

Line Mountain;000;000;04 — 4-4-1

Brandywine Heights;000;000;00 — 0-1-2

Kya Matter and Aspen Walker. Meghann Schuster and Emma Lukenich.

WP: Matter; LP: Schuster.

Line Mountain: Matter 1-for-3, RBI; Brooke Novinger run; Cassie Laudenslager RBI; Kylie Klinger 1-for-4, 2 RBIs; Jordan Brezgel 1-for-3; Emily Gonsar 1-for-2, run.

Brandywine Heights: Aubrey Reinhart 1-for-3.