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Shnyder pitches Montgomery to D4 title
June 2, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT
Garrett Shnyder jumped up and down just to the left of the Bowman Field pitcher's mound, arms extended in the air, celebrating Montgomery's first District 4 Class A baseball championship in 5 years. In the blink of an eye, he collapsed to the lush green grass, curling up in a ball, covering his head with his arms, and waited for his teammates to jump on his back to celebrate with him.
It was fitting, the Red Raiders have ridden all season on the broad shoulders of the Lock Haven-bound pitcher. The senior right-hander was absolutely brilliant Saturday night, throwing a three-hit shutout to beat Canton, 4-0. It was Shnyder's seventh win of the season, his seventh consecutive win, and his seventh pitching win in Montgomery's last 11 wins.
This Red Raiders team isn't a one-man team by any stretch of the imagination. But without Garrett Shnyder? Well, nobody particularly cares to think about that scenario.
"Without him, I don't know where we'd be," Montgomery senior third baseman John Goetz said, grasping the gold medal hanging from his neck with both hands. "But we sure wouldn't be here."
Canton was already fighting an uphill battle last night just having to face Shnyder in a game where only the winner moved on to the PIAA tournament (Montgomery plays Pius X at Bloomsburg University on Monday). But when Alex Worthington scored from second on a Shnyder sacrifice bunt in the first inning, the hill in front of them got exponentially higher and more steep.
It was enough of a challenge that with a runner on third and one out in the top of the third inning, Warriors head coach Bob Rockwell called for a suicide squeeze with nine-hole hitter Ben Pepper, a senior, at the plate. Pepper popped up the bunt to Shnyder and baserunner Josiah Bardo was caught up in no-man's land and was doubled off of third.
There was an air of desperation in the move for the Warriors, as if they knew there weren't going to be many scoring opportunities against a hard-throwing Shnyder who had struck out four of the first six he faced. It was Canton's only real scoring threat as Bardo was the lone Warrior to reach second base.
"We had it after that," Shnyder said. "The wind went right out of their sails and we put some more runs up after that and it was completely downhill after that."
"I don't know if it was desperation, but I think it was the right play to do," Montgomery head coach Tom Persing said. "They had a fast runner on third with one of their better hitters up. The odds of him putting (the bunt) on the ground are pretty good."
Even though the one run was all Shnyder needed to win, his offense gave him a little breathing room in the fourth inning when it sent eight batters to the plate. The Red Raiders recorded four of their five hits in the inning, forcing Canton sophomore Garrett Wesneski deep into counts. He walked two in the inning, with his second one to Thomas Goetz forcing in a run.
With two outs in that fourth inning, nine-hole hitter Corey Kriner smashed a grounder toward third base which went off the glove of a diving Scott Rockwell. The ball trickled toward a vacated shortstop after Wes Moore had gone to backup Rockwell, allowing both Cam McHenry and Cody Klees to score. Shnyder was staked to a 4-0 lead that was seemingly insurmountable.
Shnyder faced the minimum of 12 batters through the first four innings. He gave up two hits in that span but had one erased on the third inning bunt double play, and another was caught trying to steal second. In fact, in his seven innings, Shnyder faced just one batter over the minimum despite not striking a batter out after the second inning.
But his defense was always there when called upon. Worthington and Thomas Goetz turned a sweet little double play after a leadoff single in the seventh. Goetz also snared a hot shot grounder destined for right field in the fifth inning to record the third out of the inning.
"We needed a play and we got one," John Goetz said. "Plays like my younger brother Thomas made picking that ball out of nowhere, that's the confidence you have when you have a dominant pitcher on the mound. We came out and really pulled together as a ballclub."
"(Shnyder) can win a 1-0 game, but I wasn't on easy street at 1-0," Persing said. "That's a good Canton team, so I wanted use to get a few more insurance runs."
Montgomery is a team that Persing has yet to play a flawless game, a scary thought considering they've been good enough to earn a spot in the state tournament. But there the players and the coaches were Saturday night, posing in foul territory of Bowman Field for pictures, gold medals draped around their necks.
When you have a player like Shnyder putting together one of the best performances of this playoff season, you don't need to be flawless.
Canton 000 000 0 - 0 3 0
Montgomery 100 300 x - 4 5 2
Garrett Wesneski, Chase Pepper (5) and Jacob Butcher. Garrett Shnyder and Kyle Russell.
Top Canton hitters: Scott Rockwell, 1-3; Connor Route, 1-3; Josiah Bardo, 1-2.
Top Montgomery hitters: Alex Worthington, 1-2, run; Shnyder, 1-2, RBI; John Goetz, 1-3, run; Cody Klees, 1-3; Corey Kriner, 1-2, 2 RBIs.
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