By William Bowman
The Daily Item
NORTHUMBERLAND -- As happy as Matt Metzger to see his Selinsgrove 9-10 Baseball team was lapping Acorn Park with the banner awarded to the newly minted District 13 champions Thursday night, he was relieved his squad had finished it off in just four innings.
Not just because it was better than 90 degrees at game time -- although that was certainly a nice consolation prize -- but for the simple fact that Danville wouldn't get a chance to bat two more times.
If fans of both teams learned anything over the last two days, it was this: no lead was safe. So when Josh Nylund made a diving catch to secure Selinsgrove's 18-8 victory, it was a big sigh of relief for Metzger.
"We had an 11-run inning (Wedneday) and a 10-run inning (Thursday) so what was to stop Danville from doing the same thing?" said Metzger. "What you had was two powerful offenses going at it the last two days. I was glad we ended it because I didn't want them to bat two more times."
A day after the teams combined for 25 runs and 25 hits in Danville's wild 13-12 win which forced Thursday's winner-take-all District 13 final, the two were back at it again. Selinsgrove scored 18 runs -- only once in six tournament games has it been held to less than 10 -- on 16 hits. Danville banged out 14 hits and scored eight runs.
Selinsgrove advances to the Section 3 tournament, which begins Tuesday in District 12 (either Montoursville or Newberry). Selinsgrove will take on the District 15 champions in its opener.
"What can you say? We just got outhit," said Danville manager Bob Riley. "We hit the ball well, we played well, they just hit the ball a little better."
Selinsgrove also took advantage of a series of early Danville mistakes that staked it to an early lead.
Danville starter Drew Sassaman easily retired the first two batters before Nate Schon singled up the middle after fouling of two two-strike pitches. Back-to-back errors loaded the bases and then a routine pop up dropped in between the pitcher and first and second basemen, allowing the first run to score. Then Selinsgrove's Ben Heim, moved from second to seventh in the order, smashed a bases-clearing triple just inside the left-field line to make it 4-0.
"We made a couple of mistakes, they took advantage and it changed the complexion of the entire game," said Riley. "It should have been 0-0 heading to the bottom of the first, instead we were down 4-0." "I was glad we got out to the early lead because we knew Danville was going to fight," said Metzger. "We got some extra opportunities and made them count."
Danville answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, only to see Selinsgrove erupt for 10 runs in the top of the second -- its fourth 10-run inning in its last three games. Logan Hile delivered the big blow with a two-run double while Nylund, Schon, Colton Hoover, Heim and Brett Foor also drove in runs in the inning.
Danville didn't go away, scoring six times in the bottom of the third to take the 10-run rule away momentarily. Zack Zerbe doubled home a run and Kayden Riley and Sassaman followed with RBI singles before Josh Kopelcheck doubled home two runs to make it 14-8.
"Give Danville a lot of credit, they kept battling and we knew they would," said Metzger. "That's why we wanted to end it early if we could."