As Aaron Cole watched the ball sail over the left-field fence, he pumped his fist and smiled. The senior's first home run since Little League broke a tie, gave Montoursville its first lead and brought out the kid in him.
Montoursville freshman pitcher Dylan Fontenot basically is a kid but over the final six innings the adult in him came out.
Cole went 2 for 2 and hit what became the game-winning home run while Fontenot threw a brilliant complete-game four-hitter in his first varsity start Wednesday at Giles Field as Montoursville overcame a three-run deficit and edged Central Mountain, 4-3. It was a big win as the Warriors (12-3) now control their own destiny in earning the No. 3 seed and a first-round District 4 Class AA playoff bye.
Montoursville’s Aaron Cole, center and blue batting helmet, receives congratulations from his teammates after hitting a sixth-inning home run and giving the Warriors a 4-3 victory on Wednesday at Montoursville. Cole finished 2 for 2 and scored two runs for Montoursville. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"Hitting that (home run) was a nice feeling," Cole said. "It was real nice knowing how good Dylan was throwing, too. That was big."
"(Tuesday) he (coach Travis Wurster) told me I was starting," Fontenot said. "I was kind of nervous when he told me but woke up today and was ready to go."
Montoursville looked anything but ready when Central Mountain (8-9) built a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Fontenot walked the first two hitters and Von Walker's RBI single put the Wildcats up 1-0 before a wild pitch and an error allowed two more runs to score.
Coming less than 24 hours after dropping a 2-1 decision to Shikellamy, Montoursville appeared headed for disaster against a surging team that still might win a share of the Central Penn League championship. Everything changed after that first inning, though, and Montoursville played outstanding in all facets over the final 6 1/2 innings.
Wurster did not talk much before the game, but he did write "compete" on the lineup card. His players received the message.
"Going down 3-0 with a freshman on the mound, starting a freshman in left field (Aidan Plants) for the first time, it was like we almost needed that. We needed to go down and realize we might get 10-runned here if we don't pull it together," Wurster said. "Writing that probably didn't have any impact on how they played, but they competed one through nine. They just had more competitive spirit today and it was a lot more fun to watch."
Montoursville scored a run in each of the first three innings, getting on the board when Cameron Ott slammed a one-out first-inning home run. Quinton Kuntz and Zach Pepperman hit two-out third-inning singles and Plants scored Kuntz with a RBI single to tie the game. Fontenot started cruising and set the stage for Cole's dramatics.
Cole came up big last Friday with a clutch seventh-inning RBI single in a 3-2 win at Danville and delivered again. After talking with first-base coach Ed Frame, Cole went up looking for looking to drive something up the middle or to the right against left-hander Luke Wise. Instead, he jumped on a pitch that tailed back over the plate and drove it.
Cole hit two home runs as a Little Leaguer but chances are this is the one he will remember well more than those.
"When I hit it he just kind of stood there and I thought it was going right to him and then he looked back over his shoulder and then I had a feeling it was going," Cole said. "We just had to stay positive and we came back and we won. I think it speaks to our character and the senior leadership we have."
Pitching with a lead for the first time, Fontenot put an exclamation point on his breakthrough performance, needing just 12 pitches to retire Central Mountain in order and clinch the win. The freshman right-hander was brilliant after the first inning and allowed only one hit over the final five. He grew stronger as the game progressed, threw only 95 pitches and struck out three over the final 3 1/3 innings.
Fontenot grew up in Louisiana before his family moved to Montoursville in the offseason. He found a house last summer and now it appears he has found a home.
"It's different because I never played high school ball, but I'm a lot more comfortable than I was before," Fontenot said. "Coming up here has been really nice because they've all been nice to me and they all welcomed me."
"We've welcomed him with open arms. He's been great to the baseball team," Cole said. "A freshman going up against Central Mountain, that's as big as he could possibly be. That was amazing. That was great pitching."
Central Mountain is a Class AAAA school that is collectively hitting .369. The Wildcats had scored 43 runs in their last four games, but Fontenot went right after them. The freshman pumped the strike zone, worked ahead, hit his spots and utilized a sweeping curveball that grew more potent as the game continued.
No Wildcat moved past second base after the second inning and Fontenot retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. His teammates have nicknamed Fontenot "Gator" and he took a big chomp out of Central Mountain's offense.
"Dylan's just not afraid and that's a nice quality to have in a baseball player. If he does that we're going to be pretty tough with him the next three years," Wurster said. "He's a baseball player. That's what he loves to do and that's what he's always done. It's nice to have a kid who it just runs through his veins."
Fontenot gave his defense most of the credit and it made some great plays. After Central Mountain put runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth inning, center fielder Curtis Miller made a nice running catch and doubled the runner off second. Cole made his own fantastic play two innings later when Caleb Seyler tried stretching a two-out single into a double.
Cole hustled after the ball in the right-center gap and made a perfect throw from deep in the outfield to beat Seyler. Minutes later he proved equally dangerous at the plate.
"I think after yesterday we kind of realized we have to give it 100 percent and it kind of clicked in," Fontenot said. "We knew we needed to get it going."
C. Mountain300 000 0-3 4 2
Montoursville111 001 x-4 7 1
Cayden Stover, Clayton Butler (4), Luke Wise (6) and Ryan Yost. Dylan Fontenot and Cameron Ott. W-Fontenot, (1-0). L-Wise.
Top CM hitters: Von Walker 1-3, RBI; Caleb Seyler 2-3. Top Montoursville hitters: Ott 1-3, HR; Quinton Kuntz 1-2, R; Aidan Plants 1-3, RBI; Aaron Cole 2-2, HR, RBI, 2 R.
Records: Montoursville 12-3. Central Mountain 8-9.