The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 23, 2013

Little League Baseball: Big first inning lifts Montoursville past Upper Dauphin

Daily Item

---- — By Anthony Mitchell

For The Daily Item

MONTOURSVILLE -- Mason Sechrist may have went against his coach's usual plan for an at-bat.

However, Montoursville manager Lee Ranck would be hard-pressed to talk Sechrist into changing his approach, considering that Sechrist played a large role in Montoursville's 20-2 win in four innings over Upper Dauphin in the Section 3 Age 10-11 Division final.

Or maybe it would be better to say that Sechrist had a grand part in the victory. Sechrist blasted two grand slams in his first two at-bats as part of a 12-run first inning for Montoursville.

On both of his first two swats, Sechrist decided that he did not want to watch a pitch go past him. Coming up with the bases loaded, Sechrist did not waste any time putting his team on the board, cranking the first pitch over the fence for a grand slam.

Sechrist explained that Ranck usually tells his hitters to look at the first pitch before swinging. However, after being given a green light to swing at the first pitch, Sechrist found the first pitch to his liking and swung away.

"(The grand slams) feel really good," Sechrist said, clearly ecstatic over sending two pitches deep over the fence. "I don't think I've ever seen (two grand slams in one inning) before, but it feels really great."

Sechrist can look up to former major league third baseman Fernando Tatis, who pulled off the feat for the St. Louis Cardinals on April 23, 1999, to become the only Major League player to do so.

"(Sechrist made) two good swings and they went a long way," Montoursville assistant coach Mitch Wood said. "(It) really opened the game up for us. More power to him. When you're swinging that good, keep swinging."

Sechrist's grand slams did more than open the game up for a hot-hitting Montoursville offense. Sechrist's blasts motivated a squad that was seeing the ball well to continue to swing away.

Montoursville started to show patience at the plate after Sechrist's first home run to extend an inning that had completely changed the outlook of the final. After Maison Grow left the mound for Upper Dauphin after following Sechrist's first at-bat with a walk, Montoursville quickly adjusted to a new hurler.

Three walks, a pair of hits and a pair of errors later, Sechrist was walking back to the batter's box for his second hack of the first inning.

Fans chattered as Sechrist walked up, possibly discussing the chances of witnessing another grand slam by the same hitter in one inning. Sechrist proved that his first longball was not a fluke, sending a pitch from Macklin Ayers deep into right field after blasting a pitch to center in his first at-bat.

One hitter later, the first inning was over with a crooked number on the scoreboard and Cameron Wood walking out to the mound with run support to work with.

A fine pitching performance can be lost in the shuffle when his team scores 20 runs, but Wood showed composure in the later innings to shut down Upper Dauphin. Wood benefitted from quick throws and diving catches from his defense in his three innings of work.

Wood set down Upper Dauphin in the second inning in order, showing that he was not rattled after allowing a first-inning two-run shot to Chase Bond. The home run to Bond proved to be the lone time in his outing where Wood faced imminent trouble.

In the third inning, Upper Dauphin had two runners in scoring position, but each was quickly retired. After a pitch, Logan Ott -- who was behind the plate for Montoursville -- noticed that Kade Motter was leaning off of second base and quickly snapped a throw to second to nab Motter. A double-play ended the threat and gave Wood two scoreless frames after the first inning.

Montoursville continued to pound the ball to all fields after the first inning, making that ping sound of an aluminum bat over and over again to earn a trip to Mansfield for the state tournament.

"We're happy (about going to states)," Wood said. "I feel like the kids deserve it. Coach Ranck has preached a team-first concept and I think they've all bought into it."

Three runs in the second inning pushed the Montoursville lead to 15-2, as Cole Ranck joined the home run parade with a two-run shot out of the nine hole. A pair of two-RBI singles by Ott and Wood in the third gave Montoursville 20 runs for the game.