ATHENS — There was no home field advantage for Athens Friday night as Section III power Keystone posted a 21-2 win over the local team in the opening round of the Pennsylvania Little League Section III 9-11 Year-Old Tournament.
The score is a little deceiving, as Keystone plated 12 runs in the top of the fourth to blow open a 9-2 game.
Keystone, more aggressive on the base paths than any team the locals have seen this season, opened the game with a base hit by Cole Cooper. Athens got the next two batters to strike out, but back-to-back errors off the bats of Blake Walker and Darius Shale put both on base and their team up 2-0. Shale later stole home to make it a 3-0 game with Athens coming to bat.
The local nine stayed in the game in the bottom of the inning and got on the scoreboard. Cooper Robinson hit the second pitch he saw to left for a triple. After an out, Matthias Welles singled off the third baseman and Robinson scored. Charan Venkataswamy also singled in the inning, but Keystone got out of trouble.
That was one thing Athens had a hard time doing. It seemed like any time Keystone had something brewing, the team took advantage of it.
With one gone in the top of the second inning, Albon Counsil was hit by a pitch and Cooper walked. Athens got the second out on a pop fly, and it seemed like Athens might get out of trouble. Instead, Walt Probst ripped a line drive to center for a two-run double. Athens got the third out one batter too late.
Keystone added four runs in the third.
Again, all four runs scored with two outs already recorded. A fly ball produced the first out. Walks to Evan Hardy and Austin Andrus followed, but the next batter struck out. Then Hayes Miller stepped up with an RBI single, and Cooper added a two-run double to left. The ninth Keystone run was on a bases-loaded walk.
Still playing hard, Athens scored again in the bottom of the third. Robinson opened with a single, and Welles added a one-out base hit. Taking a cue from Keystone, Robinson scored on a steal of home. James Friend followed with a double, leaving Welles at third with one out, but both runners would be left stranded.
Then came the top of the fourth and Keystone teed off. Three walks helped, but Cooper and Hunter Donley had triples; Nolan Cross and Dalton McDermott had doubles; and Miller had two singles in the inning with Probst, Walker, Andrus and McDermott adding one single each.
Robinson and Welles led Athens at the plate. Robinson had a triple, a single and two runs scored; and Welles added two singles and an RBI. Friend added a double with Venkataswamy chipping in a single.
Athens sent five pitchers to the mound with Welles, Robinson, Venkataswamy, Kade Rowe and Friend each taking a turn.
Cooper led Keystone at the plate with a single, double and a triple, four runs and four RBIs. Probst also had a single and a double with a run and four RBIs.
Andrus and Cross handled the pitching duties for Keystone and combined for 10 strikeouts, six hits and no walks.
In the first game of the tournament, Juniata County topped Millersburg 13-3.
Keystone will play Juniata County today at 2 p.m. with Athens taking on Millersburg at 4 p.m.