---- — By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
WILLIAMSPORT -- The looks on their faces said it all on Wednesday night. Midd-West had given two-time defending District 4 Class AAA champ Jersey Shore all it could handle for 8 1/3 innings.
However, the Mustangs missed opportunities to score at Historic Bowman Field, and when the Bulldogs' Zach DePasqua lined the game-winning single with one out in the bottom of the ninth for a 1-0 victory, Midd-West wore the weight of those missed opportunities on their faces.
"I can't take anything away from (Jersey Shore)," Midd-West coach Ron Flood said. "We had opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. They had one real good chance and they took advantage."
That golden opportunity for the Bulldogs (17-3) came in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Kaiden Brungard reached on an error and Chris Glunk walked. DePasqua, who had grounded out twice against Midd-West pitcher Colton Keister, lined a 1-1 pitch into left field for the game winner.
It gave Jersey Shore its third consecutive shutout victory in the District 4 Class AAA championship game, despite netting just 10 hits in those three games. The Bulldogs face Abington Heights, the District 2 Class AAA champion, on Monday at Bowman Field.
Keister was the hard-luck loser for the Mustangs, who finish the season at 12-9. The righty threw 162 pitches in 8 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run. Fifty-nine of those pitches came in the first three innings.
"The umpire was a little high and a little low at times. It took me a while (to get used to the strike zone)," Keister said. "I just got into a groove (in the later innings)."
Keister finished the game with eight strikeouts and five walks.
"You can't ask for a better team (behind you)," Keister said.
Midd-West had a golden opportunity to score in the top of the first inning, but Jersey Shore pitcher Travis Eiswerth escaped an early jam. Keister singled and Hunter Shuff doubled to give the Mustangs runners on second and third with no outs.
However, Eiswerth got two strikeouts and a foul out to end the threat and settled in to throw a complete-game of his own.
"When you have the 3-4-5 hitters coming up and you have two strikeouts and a popout, it certainly isn't going to do much good," Flood said. "Those kids made good contact the rest of the game. They are kids that aren't going to get a base hit every time up."
Eiswerth threw 121 pitches, striking out seven and walking one.
Midd-West had another opportunity to score in the top of the sixth. After a walk and a throwing error put a runner on second base, Alex Lash singled to right field, but a perfect relay from DePasqua in right to Glunk at first to catcher Eric Hurling erased the run at the plate.
The Bulldogs had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh as an error and a sacrifice put the winning run on second with one out. Eiswerth, with two outs, lined a shot back through the box, but Keister threw his glove up to make the catch.
"It was instinct," Keister said. "It came back fast."