Shikellamy builds big lead at Montoursville

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Scott Dudinskie, The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa.
·5 min read
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May 4—MONTOURSVILLE — No one would suggest Shikellamy has won eight consecutive baseball games with defense, scoring 11.1 runs per game in that string.

Duncan Weir, though, made a case for it Monday with an incredible diving catch that put the Braves on track to extend their winning streak.

The senior second baseman bolted toward the foul line in shallow right field in pursuit of a two-out flare that would have given Montoursville two runs and the lead had it dropped in fair territory. Weir made a last-moment lunge for the falling ball, fully extending his body parallel to the ground, and snared it just above the damp grass before sliding several feet on his stomach.

"I thought it was a hit off the bat, if I'm being honest. I just ran as hard as I could," Weir said. "I used to play outfield, and I'm used to tracking balls and stuff. So I kind of just tracked it, and I figured (right fielder Kyle Schaeffer) wasn't getting it because he was playing deep, so I had to get there.

"I felt like Superman. That's the only way I can describe it."

The highlight-reel play ended the third inning with Shikellamy in front of the host Warriors by a run. The Braves then added five more runs over the next two innings before a downpour halted the game with runners at the corners, one out and a 9-3 margin in the fifth.

"That changed the momentum of the game," said Shikellamy coach Derek Alex. "That's a young man going after it and wanting it. That's all you can ask for."

The Braves (9-3), were hoping to gain a half-game edge on Central Mountain (9-3) in Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I play, but both remained atop the division at 8-2. Shikellamy will have to return to Giles Field at some point to resume Monday's game.

Third-place Selinsgrove (8-4 overall, 7-3 HAC-I) dropped off the leaders' pace with a 7-6 loss to Lewisburg on Monday, while Montoursville stayed close behind at 8-4, 7-4.

In addition to his gold-star catch, Weir started a trend Monday with a two-out double in the top of the first inning. Drew Balestrini rifled an opposite-field single to lead off the game before Blaise Wiest hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Weir then smashed a 1-0 pitch deep into the gap in left-center for a double. It triggered a series of five Braves reaching base, capped by Wyatt Faust's three-run double.

"Drew hit a nice scud, and then Blaise hit his right on the square. So I'm trying to hit something hard, too," Weir said. "I'm looking to do damage, and, luckily, I got something to hit."

Connor Fitzgerald followed Weir with a high fly to shallow left field that was dropped near the foul line, allowing Weir to race home. Kaden Hoffman was hit by a pitch, and Davis Marshall took a four-pitch walk to fill the bases.

Faust fouled off consecutive pitches to fall behind 0-2 before slamming the next pitch to left-center for a 4-0 lead.

"Huge," said Alex. "He saw both pitches — a fastball and a curveball, and he's a one-two pitch — so he saw his out pitch and I think he felt confident. He put the barrel to the ball and let us run the bases."

Montoursville struck for three runs in the home second. A.J. Llorente pulled a 2-1 fastball from Mason Deitrich over the fence in right field to open the inning, and Josh Burger lined a two-run hit to right with the bases full and two outs.

Deitrich left runners at the corners in the second, but the Warriors opened the third with a Maddix Dalena double and a hit batsman. An errant pickoff throw moved both runners into scoring position with no outs. Deitrich rallied for consecutive strikeouts — freezing one batter with a middle-in fastball, and winning an eight-pitch battle with an letter-high changeup — before coaxing the soft liner Weir caught.

"Mason Deitrich battled his butt off. Second and third with nobody out on a throwing error, and he (struck out) two," said Alex. "Then Duncan makes that play."

Balestrini, Wiest and Weir had consecutive two-out hits in the fourth, pushing the lead to 7-0. Balestrini drew a pair of pickoff throws following his double, and the second got through to the outfield. A subsequent throw got past the third baseman, and Balestrini raced home. Then, following Wiest's infield single, Weir roped an 0-2 pitch to right on a run-and-hit situation, and two errant throws brought in Wiest. Weir then scored on a wild pitch.

"Seven two-out hits is unbelievable," said Alex. "We're getting better. We keep improving. I think you're starting to see us play better defense, so that's encouraging. We've had some adversity, one inning each game, but find a way to get out of it and keep battling."

Shikellamy tacked on two more in the fifth with the help of two more errors — Montoursville had eight in all — and Colin Zechman's RBI single, which was the Braves' 10th. They had runners at the corners with one out for Balestrini, who fouled off a pitch as the skies opened up.

"We're just playing great baseball right now," said Weir. "Everybody's contributing, and we feel like we can compete with the best of teams in the area."

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Shikellamy 9, Montoursville 3 (susp.)

Shikellamy;400;32;— 9-10-1

Montoursville;030;0;— 3-4-8

Game suspended with 1 out in top of 5th

Mason Deitrich and Drew Balestrini. Nick Reeder, Dylan Moll (4) and C.J. Signor.

Shikellamy: Balestrini 2-for-3, double, run; Blaise Wiest 2-for-3, run; Duncan Weir 2-for-3, double 2 runs; Davis Marshall 2-for-2, double, 2 runs; Wyatt Faust 1-for-3, double, run, 3 RBIs; Colin Zechman 1-for-3, RBI.

Montoursville: Josh Burger 1-for-2, 2 RBIs; Maddix Dalena 1-for-2, double; A.J. Llorente 1-for-1, home run (2nd, solo); Moll 1-for-2, run.