One by one, the 10 Williamsport seniors lined up along the first-base line, parents beside them. The memories they have generated throughout the last decade could fill Logue Field.
Once Little Leaguers playing together for the first time, the 10 have climbed the baseball ladder together, winning at every level while turning this 2013 baseball season around. One more home game will be played Tuesday and there are many goals yet to try and reach, but Monday, the seniors owned their collective moment. It truly was their day.
Aaron Weber did not allow an earned run, Sam Bubb missed hitting for the cycle by a home run, Ian Miller went 3 for 3 and Austin Robinson hit a three-run double as Williamsport routed playoff-bound Mifflinburg, 12-2 in five innings on Senior Day. The Millionaires (12-4) won their sixth straight, matched a season-high with 15 hits and scored the game's final 12 runs, including nine in the fourth inning while utilizing an all-senior lineup.
Ian Miller of Williamsport gets caught in a chase by Brady Lloyd of Mifflinburg between first and second base in the third inning Monday at Logue Field. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"We played Little League, we played West End and now we're all here together," Weber said. "To have a 10-run win on Senior Day you can't ask for anything better. The atmosphere was just awesome."
"We've been together since we were 10 years old and all the way through. We've always had fun and always pick on each other too so it's fun to come out here with these guys," Robinson said. "I wouldn't want to play with any other senior class around here. I'm very grateful for that."
First-year coach Dave Howe was grateful for how well his seniors played after a shaky start. Two errors produced two unearned Mifflinburg runs and Williamsport baserunning blunders took away the potential for a big first-inning rally and had the Millionaires down 2-0 entering the bottom of the second.
After that, the Millionaires did no wrong. Bubb's two-run single and Owen Lukens' two-out RBI single put Williamsport ahead to stay 3-2 in the bottom of the second and the defense started taking hits away as Bubb, Lukens and Miller made outstanding plays. Miller sprinted beyond the right-field foul line to make a diving third-inning catch and record the game's best play.
Williamsport turned a close game into a rout in the fourth inning, scoring nine times and delivering nine hits. The Millionaires hit Mifflinburg ace Oakley Whitsel, one of the HAC-I's best pitchers, hard and scored eight runs off him. Williamsport produced five straight hits at one point and had six straight reach base.
Eight seniors had at least one hit and the one who did not walked twice and scored two runs. Seven Millionaires also scored at least one run as a team that has played together so long shined collectively on their day in the sun.
"It was real emotional. It's our last year and we just wanted to go out there and play a good game," Miller said. "It was just flowing today."
After Weber retired Mifflinburg (10-9) on seven pitches in the fourth, Evan Kern hit a lead-off single and moved to second on Robinson's perfect bunt single. After Lukens loaded the bases with one out, hitting an infield single, Steven Moon (2 for 3) began sealing Mifflinburg's fate, belting a RBI single. The next three hitters, Joey Cassidy, Ben Myers and Miller all hit singles that produced four runs.
Robinson broke the game wide open later in the inning, slamming a three-run double deep into the left-center field gap before scoring the final run on Bubb's two-out double. Robinson had been slumping but came alive yesterday. With his combination of speed and pop, Robinson could be a weapon hitting from the No. 9 spot.
"It felt good. It felt like a 500-pound weight was off my shoulders," Robinson said. "I just went up thinking this is Senior Day and just have fun and just hit the ball."
Mifflinburg had two hits in the fifth, but Weber picked off the lead runner and Cassidy threw out Brian Zimmerman trying to steal. Weber kept the Wildcats off balance all day and did not allow an extra-base hit. He also made a nice sliding catch in the first inning and surrendered just one hit between the second and fourth innings.
Weber worked ahead and let his defense work. He struck out two and his first one was huge. Mifflinburg had runners on first and third, trailing 3-2, but Weber struck out Zach Aurand and ended Mifflinburg's last serious threat.
"This is probably the best I've ever felt on the mound," Weber said. "It was awesome."
Williamsport has won seven of its last eight and is starting to peak at the perfect time. Bouncing back and playing so well after such a rough start yesterday also could signal good things to come. The Millionaires have come from behind to win several times and the seniors are in no rush to end their collective baseball journey.
"We always have bumps here and there but we always get through them. The beauty of our team is we always fight back," Weber said. "There have been numerous times this season when we've been down by a couple runs and we always bounce back and we just had our best game of the year."
Mifflinburg110 00-2 5 0
Williamsport030 9x-12 15 2
Oakley Whitsel, Zach Aurand (4) and Andy Aurand. Aaron Weber and Joey Cassidy. W-Weber, (1-0). L-Whitesel.
Top Mifflinburg hitters: Brian Zimmerman 2-3; Devin Hendrix 2-2, RBI. Top Williamsport hitters: Sam Bubb 3-4, 3B, 2B, 3 RBI; Owen Lukens 2-3, 2B, RBI, R; Steven Moon 2-3, RBI, R; Joey Cassidy 1-2, 2 RBI, R; Ben Myers 1-2, RBI; Ian Miller 3-3, RBI, R; Evan Kern 1-2, 3 R; Austin Robinson 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R; Neil Salvatori 2 R.
Records: Williamsport 12-4. Mifflinburg 10-9.