---- — By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
BERWICK -- Although it has remained unbeaten so far in the postseason, the Danville Major Division All-Star team hasn't had much room for error these days.
Three of Danville's four wins have come by one run, so it was a relief for manager Chris Persing when his team broke open a close game against Lewisburg in the District 13 championship series with a three-run third inning.
But Danville didn't stop there. The Montour County All-Stars scored three more times in the sixth to pull away for a 7-1 victory and claim the District 13 title at Ber-Vaughn Park on Monday.
"Winning the title feels great. We won three, three-run games so far coming in, so it was nice to actually have a lead of more than one run when we were heading into the last inning," said Persing. "They built up the momentum (in a 2-1 eight-inning win on Sunday). We were a little lethargic at the beginning, but we drew off the momentum and fed off each other and the kids responded well.
"Winning a game (like Sunday's) and taking it in extra innings over Lewisburg's No. 1 pitcher (Andrew Ramirez), our guys were feeling really good about themselves," added Persing. "They were confident and they were relaxed once we got started."
Danville broke a 1-all tie with its three runs in third after its first four batters reached base.
A leadoff double to right by Eric Sees was followed by singles from Shane Kozick, Preston Fausnaught and pitcher Cody Kizis. Fausnaught brought home two runs on his base hit, and the third run scored on a fielder's choice hit by Brandon McGaw.
"With the way Cody was throwing, we told the kids to chip away, get a lead and put a little pressure on Lewisburg since they were down (a game)," said Persing. "We did that and we worked (Lewisburg starting pitcher Nick) Shedleski's pitch count pretty high and made him work a little bit, and then we got to the bullpen to build the lead at the end."
With a 4-1 lead, Kizis settled in and threw a complete-game gem for Danville on just 65 pitches. He gave up just one run -- a solo homer crushed by Ramirez in the first -- and four hits overall to go along with seven strikeouts and no walks. He recorded eight one-pitch outs in the game.
"We have a lot of faith and trust in Cody. When he's hitting his spots, he's tough. He mixes in his breaking balls, and when he spots them up he can be tough on hitters," said Persing. "Lewisburg recognized that and they got a little aggressive, which they probably shouldn't have done because it worked in our favor."
Danville then put the game away with a three-run sixth that was fueled by a pair of bases-loaded walks drawn by Fausnaught and McGaw. The final run scored on an error.
"They were huge runs. You can never have enough 'add-on' runs late in the game when you're up," said Persing. "Six runs is a lot tougher to overcome than three, so we were very pleased with the mentality that they could push a couple more runs across and put a little more pressure on Lewisburg."
Now Danville is off to the Section 3 Tournament, where it will face the District 12 champ on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Lewisburg, on the other hand, is left to savor only the Area II title it claimed over the weekend.
"In the last two games we didn't hit. (Kizis) did a tremendous job and he was right around the plate. Other than Ramirez, we weren't putting balls in play really that hard," said Lewisburg manager Jim Snyder. "If we could've scored some runs earlier and put more pressure on (Danville), it could've been a different story. We just went cold at the wrong time.
"The guys are going to learn from this, and that's what we told them. This is about the future, and if this is the worst thing that happens to them in their lives, they've had a pretty good life."