The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

June 10, 2014

American Legion Baseball: Sunbury/Northumberland beats Line Mountain

NORTHUMBERLAND — Jake Hare could have looked around and noticed the bases full of Line Mountain runners in the fifth inning and let the moment affect him.

Instead, he kept his gaze focused intently on his backstop, Colby Lahr. A few minutes later, Hare walked off the mound without allowing a run, keeping Sunbury/Northumberland ahead.

Hare escaped trouble and Sunbury/Northumberland tacked on two additional runs, beating Line Mountain, 6-2, in a Susquehanna Valley League tussle at Pineknotter Park on Monday.

Hare struck out five over six innings of work, limiting Line Mountain to two runs.

“That has been (Hare’s) performance every time he’s come out and pitched for me,” Sunbury/Northumberland manager Travis Fisher said.

Not only did Hare wiggle his way out of trouble with his team holding a 4-2 lead, the right-hander went back to work after watching Line Mountain (1-2) load the bases with a pair of singles followed by a sacrifice bunt by Brady Michael on which the right side of the Sun/Norry (3-0) infield raced in to field the bunt, leaving first base open.

After a quick chat with Fisher, Hare fanned Kellan Masser for the first out.

On the following at-bat, Erik Smeltz sent a blooper down the right-field line, falling between a pair of converging Sun/Norry infielders. With the Line Mountain base runners stopping, unsure if the ball would be caught or not, Tylor Dzwonchyk rifled a throw to Lahr at home for a wild force out. Dzwonchyk then stayed with a hard-hit ground ball to throw out a hustling JP Lenker to escape the inning.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking with three on base and no outs, but I just got in the zone and I had full confidence in the guys behind me,” Hare said. “I knew we could make the plays. I wasn’t worried. I just kind of did my job and I knew everybody else would do theirs.”

“(Hare) has a lot of confidence on the mound. That’s what got him through,” Lahr added.

Neither team was able to immediately capitalize on the close call. But Sun/Norry scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to provide extra cushion, with Jaryd Palmer starting the inning with a pinch-hit single in his first American Legion at-bat.

Moving to the mound for the seventh after starting at shortstop, Nick Dunn retired Line Mountain in order to seal the win.

“To have Nick Dunn come off the bench and throw gas, it just makes (the game) that much easier,” Fisher said.

Dunn provided an end-of-the-game spark on the mound after helping to ignite the Sun/Norry offense with his bat in the first inning.

Dunn singled home two runs in the first as part of five straight Sun/Norry hits to start the bottom half of the first, with Sun/Norry jumping out to a 4-0 lead.

Lahr and Matt Snyder did not need to see pitches to make an impact, with both putting the ball in play early in the count to put runners on the corners with no outs. Snyder swiped second base, putting two runners in scoring position for Dunn.

Singles from Jean Turber and Blake Bettleyon, followed by a sacrifice fly from Tyler Leib, plated the last two runs in the frame.

In addition to keeping the Line Mountain runners honest with his arm behind the plate, Lahr set the tone at the top of the order for Sun/Norry with three hits and a stolen base.

Hare kept Line Mountain without a hit in the first three innings, mixing his pitches and hammering the corners consistently to keep Line Mountain off balance.

Line Mountain broke through in the fourth inning with Masser roping a double to start the inning. Erik Smeltz followed Masser with a double to put Line Mountain on the board. A run-scoring ground ball pulled Line Mountain within two runs.

“We relaxed too much (with the lead),” Lahr said. “That hurt us a little bit.”

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