Opportunity came calling Monday afternoon at Giles Field. AJ Llorente and Cole Remsynder answered each time.
Danville appeared to be pitching around Connecticut-bound Maddix Dalena in his first two times at bat. Llorente responded by slamming a two-run, third-inning home run. Remsnyder is vying to become a full-time starter and pounced on his chance an inning earlier, ripping a two-out, RBI single which put Montoursville ahead.
Combine that with stellar two-hit pitching from Nick Reeder, Elias Eck and Grayson Rinker and Montoursville seized all the opportunities its home opener provided Monday, defeating Danville, 6-2.
“It was a complete effort today,” Montoursville coach Jeremy Eck said. “We had a couple of different guys step up in key situations and they got it done for us.”
Reeder threw four one-hit innings, earning the victory, Elias Eck looked strong in his varsity pitching debut and Grayson Rinker threw a perfect seventh inning. As good as the pitching was, the game’s complexion drastically changed on two at-bats.
Before Llorente displayed his power in the third inning, Remsynder showed off his prowess and delivered in a big spot with two outs. After Marco Pulizzi (1 for 2) walked and stole second, Danville pitcher Lane Berkey produced a strikeout for the second out. He quickly went up 1-2 on Remsnyder, but the senior left fielder battled back, took two balls and then scorched an RBI single to the center field, giving Montoursville (1-1) a lead it never relinquished.
Montoursville quickly built on the moment Remsnyder generated as Cael Frame followed with an infield single. Reeder (2 for 4) then helped his own cause and hit an RBI single, making it 2-0.
“Cole is a guy who spot played for us last year defensively and he’s kind of been sitting in the wings waiting for his opportunity. He was buried behind some good outfielders in years past and he’s finally getting his chance and he’s solidifying himself in the outfield as far as I’m concerned at this point, ” Eck said. “He’s playing a great defense for us and he’s putting the ball in play hard. That was a great situation for him and I’m happy for him. ”
Montoursville stayed happy an inning later when Llorente flexed his offensive muscle. Dalena drew a leadoff walk and walked in each of his first two at-bats on nine pitches. This time, he saw four straight balls.
Llorente understands why teams may work around Dalena but she also knows she is a dangerous hitter, too. He proved it by driving the first pitch they saw over the right-field fence, giving Montoursville a 4-0 lead which was never seriously threatened.
“I was just hunting fastball. Any fastball I got I was going to swing and swing hard, ” Llorente said. “It was barely out but I looked at it and knew it was gone. It felt great, the first home game of the year. It felt amazing to get that first homer of the year out of the way. ”
Pulizzi looked like he kept the surge continuing a batter later when he hit a ball down the left field line which appeared to land in fair territory and likely would have resulted in a double. It was called foul and he eventually settled for a walk. From there Montoursville skillfully manufactured an insurance run, building a 5-0 lead entering the fourth.
Pulizzi went from first to third on a two-out wild pitch before Remsynder again came through with two outs and drew a walk. When Remsnyder broke for a second, they forced a throw and Pulizzi stole home on the double steal. An inning later, Reeder hit a double, moved to third on James Batkowski’s bunt and scored on Dalena’s grounder. Baseball can be about big and little things and Montoursville executed both well.
The Warriors felt like they let one get away from them in a season-opening loss at 2021 Class 5A state semifinalist in Central Mountain five days earlier. But despite having no time at Giles Field prior to yesterday, they showed why they could again be dangerous this spring.
“We seemed very comfortable at the plate today. It was a lot better than our last game, ” Llorente said. “We’re a little behind, but we looked good today. We were battling. We haven’t reached our max potential at all yet. When we reach our midseason form we’re going to look a lot better. ”
The pitching looked pretty darn good despite being so early in the season. Reeder didn’t have his best stuff but still threw four one-hit innings, keeping Danville off-balance, striking out three and pounding the strike zone. He came up particularly big in the second inning after Danville’s first two hitters reached base, retiring the next three in order and keeping the game scoreless.
Eck, a sophomore, threw two strong innings, fanning two in the fifth inning and retiring three straight in the sixth after Danville had pulled within 6-2. A team that appears deep on pitching could have another weapon as Eck starts developing.
“I talked to him before because you could see in the couple’s chances he’s had he’s been extremely nervous,” Jeremy Eck said. “I said we’re going to play defense behind you no matter what, so just go out there and be calm and do your thing. He looked good. His offspeed was there. ”
Ditto for Rinker. The junior right-hander needed just 12 pitches to take the victory, striking out two in the seventh inning.
Danville 000 101 0–2 2 0
Montoursville 023 100 x – 6 6 2
Lane Berkey, Carl Price (4) and Mason Raup. Nick Reeder, Elias Eck (5), Grayson Rinker (7) and Cael Frame. W – Reeder, (1-0). L – Berkey, (0-1).
Top Danville hitters: Raup 1-3, R; Jack Gibson 1-3. Top Montoursville Hitters: Nick Reeder 2-4, 2B, RBI, R; AJ Llorente 1-3, HR, 2 RBIs; Marco Pulizzi 1-2, BB, 2R; Cole Remsynder 1-2, BB, RBI, R; Frame 1-3.
Records: Montoursville (1-1, 1-1 HAC-I), Danville (0-2, 0-2).