TREMONT — A day after squandering a big early lead, Athens’ Minors Little League All-stars made sure there would be no repeat on Sunday.
Athens pushed 10 runners across home plate in the bottom of the first and answered a Jersey Shore/GSV run in the top of the fourth with a run to post an 11-1, four-inning win. As the Pennsylvania Section 3 Champions, Athens will play Section 4 winner Hollidaysburg at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the opening round of the Pennsylvania State Championships.
All 10 of Athens’ first-inning runs came with two batters out. Between the first two outs, Sam Cheresnowsky reached when he was hit by a pitch. With two out, Eli Hicks was plunked, and the snowball started to roll. Duncan Thetga delivered a single to load the bases and a Jersey Shore/GSV error off a hard-hit ball by Alex McQuay sent two runners home. Continuing a theme, Peter Bertsch was hit by a pitch, and Graham Wanck reached on an error that sent a runner home and left the bases juiced.
A pair of bases-loaded walks sent two more runs across home plate, then Connor Davidson drove a three-run double to the warning track in straight-away center field and scored on the play. Jersey Shore retired the next batter, but the damage was done as Athens had a 10-0 lead.
Needing a run to keep the game going, Jersey Shore accomplished that feat in the top of the fourth. With one out, Zeke Sechrist reached on a tough error and Kane Meixel worked a walk. Grayson Confair delivered an RBI single, but Hicks, who threw a two-hitter and allowed just one walk and no earned runs, got the next two batters out and left two runners on base.
Needing just one run to invoke the mercy rule in the bottom of the fourth, Athens got the job done. Thetga dropped a one-out single to left, and McQuay was hit by a pitch. Jersey Shore got a strikeout for the second out, but Wanck worked a six-pitch walk to load the bases. Then Lucas Schultz, who had come on to run for Thetga, dashed home on a wild pitch.
Thetga had a pair of singles and a run for Athens, and Davidson’s big blow netted three RBIs and a run. Cheresnowsky had a single, two Runs and an RBI; Kamdyn Wheeler had a single, a run and an RBI; Hicks had a single and a run; and Schultz had one RBI and two runs.
Jersey Shore/GSV 13, Athens 10
Athens scored eight first-inning runs on eight walks and two singles, but Jersey Shore came back to tie the game at 8-8 through in the top of the third inning. The game stayed tight and was tied 10-10 through four innings.
Visitors on the scoreboard, Jersey Shore then scored three runs over the next two innings and shut Athens out with two runners on in the bottom of the sixth.
Carter Rhinehart led Jersey Shore with three singles, two RBIs and two runs.Hayden Kelley added two singles, two runs and an RBI; and Ryan Smeltzer had a single, a run and two RBIS.
Conner Winters, Ryan Smeltzer, Colton Rhinehart and and Jake Bressler handled the pitching for Jersey Shore.
Athens’ offense was led by Eli Hicks who had three singles, three RBIs and two runs scored. Connor Davidson had a single, a double, a run and one RBI, Cartyr Cockroft added a single, two RBIs and a run and Sam Cheresnowsky had a single, one RBI and two runs.
Also for Athens, Kamdyn Wheeler matched Brycen Wood with a single, a run and an RBI; and Duncan Thetga matched Graham Wanck with a run each.
Thetga started on the mound for Athens and allowed five hits and two walks with four strikeouts in three innings. Of the nine runs that scored on his watch, just two were earned. Wanck gave up four hits, three walks and four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings and Hicks got the last two outs on six pitches.