Just as he started escaping one shadow, another one engulfed him.
Alex Worthington has spent the past three seasons trying to make a name for himself rather than simply being known as Joel Worthington's little brother.
Joel is one of the best players in Montgomery history and had a brilliant scholastic career from 2006-09 before playing at Mansfield University.
Alex started as a freshman in 2010, but measuring up to his brother was going to be tough. He made strides the past two seasons and in 2012, Alex officially arrived as a primetime player, as his own player, excelling as a shortstop and a standout pitcher.
As much as he dominated on the mound during the regular season, though, most focused on Montgomery ace Garrett Shnyder. It is hard to blame them because Shnyder has been brilliant. But last Monday against Pius X, Worthington burst out of the shadows once and for all and proved that he is creating his own legacy.
And he showed that when it comes to pitching, Montgomery coach Tom Persing is holding a pair of aces.
"Alex has been valuable because a lot of people are thinking we don't have anyone other than Garrett, but Garrett and he have been great and are the best guys we have on the mound," center fielder Cameron McHenry said. "They both give everything they have and don't put their heads down. They always do the best they can."
Worthington proved it last Monday and, considering the strength of opponent and ramifications, threw the game of his life. The junior right-hander pitched a gutty eight-inning, complete-game seven-hitter and struck out 11 as Montgomery edged Pius X, 2-1 in the opening round of the Class A state tournament while winning the first state playoff game in program history.
Shnyder followed that up with a three-hit shutout Thursday in a 10-0 win over Camp Hill and Monday Montgomery (20-2) will play Lancaster County Christian in the Eastern Region championship.
Shnyder has been the team's most valuable player, but Worthington might be running a close second. And without his remarkable performance last Monday, Montgomery would not still be enjoying its best season ever.
"Alex has been huge," catcher Kyle Russell said. "He's really stepped up this year."
Especially against Pius X. Rain forced the District 4 tournament to be pushed back a few days, meaning Montgomery did not play the championship until last Saturday, two days before states started. Shnyder threw a marvelous three-hit shutout and Montgomery blanked Canton, 4-0 while earning the program's second district title.
As impressive as the win was, it also meant the Raiders could not use Shnyder against Pius, a team featuring a potent lineup. Conventional wisdom had it that Montgomery might be in trouble, but Worthington never felt anything but confident. This was the kind of game he had waited for and when his moment arrived he owned it.
Inning after inning, Worthington mowed through the powerful lineup, overpowering the Royals four days after striking out 11 against Sullivan County. He came within a strike of throwing a shutout and showed he is as tough as talented after surrendering that game-tying single.
His pitch count soaring, Worthington struck out 11 and stranded two in the seventh. He then fought hard for another inning and gave his team a chance to win it in the bottom of the eighth, which it did when Thomas Goetz drew a bases-loaded walk.
A player who had not pitched any varsity baseball prior to this season had just thrown one of the best games in his program's history.
"He threw almost 280 pitches in five days," Russell said. "That takes a lot of character and a lot of heart to keep going and step up for your team like that."
Montgomery reached the district final last year but lost five starters from that team. It has only four seniors this season so it looked like a possible rebuilding year. Shnyder would be the team's horse, but one could not help but think who else would deliver when the senior ace could not throw.
Coach Tom Persing turned to Worthington in the offseason and told him to be ready come spring. He already had one ace and was hoping he soon would have another up his sleeve.
All Worthington did when called upon was go 5-1 during the regular season while throwing a no-hitter, a one-hitter and a two-hitter. In the district semifinals against Sullivan he allowed only two earned runs and struck out 11 as Montgomery rallied for a 5-4, eight-inning win.
"Alex pitched a really good game," third baseman John Goetz said afterward. "He gave us a chance to come back and win."
Worthington helps Montgomery off the mound by playing well at shortstop and sparking the offense from his lead-off position. He has grown into a leader and showed last Monday he will do whatever necessary to help his team win.
Those shadows are long gone. His brother was outstanding, but Alex has been too. He is now writing his own story while helping his team make history.
"Alex is phenomenal. He does it with the stick at the plate, gets on the mound and does it and does a good job in the field," Shnyder said. "He has a bigger head on his shoulders this season and he's doing the right thing. He's putting hard work into it and the results are coming out of it. He helps us tremendously.
"He's a great player."