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Diamonds in the Rough

The local high school baseball season recently came to a close, and every summer I do my very best to give out props. Two of my friends had exceptional years at the helm. Kudos to them and their talented teams.

Williamsport had their best season on the diamond since 2002 and claimed consecutive district titles for the first time since the Empire Striked Back. These boys had a tremendous year considering all of the drama. Adversity was everywhere, and the Millionaires continued to battle.

They started a dismal 1-4 and had to endure an awkward mid-season coaching change. But Williamsport turned some heads and rallied behind their new college-aged skipper. Schneider’s squad started playing some ball and won ten out of their next twelve.

The Millionaires knocked off West Scranton and Hazleton to capture another District 2/4 AAAAAA crown. Back-to-back boys and girls. Impressive. Williamsport then nipped Downingtown East in the first round and eventually fell to the Bensalem Fighting Owls in the state quarterfinals.

Cody Shimp and Quentin Brown provided the pop. They led the Millionaires with seven home runs each. Shimp is off to Saint Bonaventure in the fall, and I believe Quentin is heading to LaSalle. Tanner Esposito was a stud on the mound. The crafty UMBC bound senior had a record of 8-2. He dominated them, and I used to play some golf with his dad. The Millionaires will miss these elders, but they have lots of talent coming back. I’d mention a few more names, but I sadly didn’t make it to any games because Historic Bowman Field was closed for the MLB Classic.

“I am extremely proud of the men they have developed into,” Schneider explained while making a cast. “They allowed the sport of baseball to mold them into very respectable people. Their focus, dedication, and persistence took them places many programs do not get a chance to experience. Not to mention, we had a whole lot of fun along the way. It was a great year.”

Things were a tad different across the bridge. This was Coach Jeremy Eck’s first season at his high-school alma mater. He is no stranger to postseason successes as Eck led Loyalsock to two state championships. Jeremy was back in the dugout after a one-year hiatus. Expectations weren’t as high when Montoursville took the field this spring. Many thought that the Warriors were looking to rebuild. Well except for them.

The Warriors finished at 19-3 and captured their first district championship since 2010. The blue and gold made some noise by reaching the state semifinals. Eck’s club won fourteen straight and knocked off their nemesis, the Loyalsock Lancers, in a ten-inning instant district four classic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a ride. MLB said they couldn’t use Bowman Field, and had to play this game 62 miles away. True story.

Montoursville nipped Mount Carmel and Sock to win another banner. They later smoked Lakeland and Oley Valley before falling to Lancaster Catholic. The Warriors had a great mix of young talent and savvy vets. Sophomore sensation, Logan Ott, went 8-1 on the mound and had already decided on the University of Maryland. Senior Owen Kiess was also a tough out, and he provided the leadership. Several other youngsters played valuable innings. Coach Eck even started two REAL freshmen.

“Many thought that we were a year away,” Eck relayed. “No one had us winning a district title or competing for a state championship. We had a great group of kids who got better with each game. This team provided the foundation and helped get us back to where we want to be.”

My friends Kyle Schneider and Jeremy Eck both led their respective clubs to spectacular seasons. One is a rook, and the other has returned. They can flat out coach and know the insides and outs. The local youngsters are extremely fortunate to have such mentors leading their programs. Well done mates. When can we start playing high school baseball games at Bowman? Cheers.

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