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Baseball: Grand slam fuels huge Panther win


Action Jackson.

Plumstead Christian freshman catcher Jackson Mott deposited a second inning offering over the left fence last Wednesday. Mott’s grand slam blew open the non-conference game with West Mont Christian (2-12), making the score 11-0 to highlight an eventual 12-2 Panther win.

“I was just trying to put it in play and drive some runs in,” Mott said. “It happened!”

The Panthers posted a three-spot in the bottom of the first, with RBI from pitcher Ethan Hartzel and first sacker Joe Bruce.

“Compared to other pitchers, he was a little slower,” Bruce said. “My goal was to hit a solid line drive and get the runs in. Hit it square and not do too much with it.”

Mott’s big fly headlined an eight-run second. Mott led off with a single, scoring on Ben Weaver’s knock. Hartzel’s sacrifice fly plated Weaver.

Kyle Noseworthy and Zach Brown each drove in a Panther, setting the stage for Mott’s heroics.

“When we get going,” Bruce said, “we get going. I was really proud of the boys today. We were keeping the energy and hits up. We were there for each other.”

West Mont Christian loaded the bases in each of the first three innings. Three times, Hartzel escaped and posted a zero.

“I kept pitching strikes and throwing hard. Saying a few prayers between pitches,” Hartzel grinned. “The team did a great job backing me up.”

“He was hitting his spots,” Mott added. “His curveball was good today.”

With no outs in the third, Hartzel calmly whiffed Trey Shurtleff. Isaiah Fegen grounded to Brown, who tapped third and didn’t “castaway” the throw; instead Brown fired a strike to first for an inning-ending double play.

Plumstead starter Ben Read was pulled for Hartzel due to pitch count. Read dramatically left with a full count, two outs and bases loaded in the first.

Hartzel stunned everyone with a first pitch breaking ball for an inning-ending strike.

“(Mott) gave me the sign for fastball. I went with the curveball for some reason,” Hartzel admitted. “It was cool to start off like that and it definitely helped get momentum going.”

It was an excellent mound debut for the sophomore. Hartzel fanned eight and retired his last nine batters.

“Ethan was great today,” Plumstead manager Bill Weaver said. “In high school baseball, if guys can locate even without the velocity, there are a lot of times when you can win the game.”

The day before, ace Ben Weaver and Nick Phillipps combined to fan 14 Jenkintown Drakes. The Panthers scratched an eighth-inning run for a 3-2 road conference win. Weaver has 56 strikeouts in just 31.2 innings.

“I wanted to have command of all three pitches,” Ben Weaver said.

“Once we’re okay with the curveball, I’m pretty confident with the fastball. (Jenkintown) could hit and were coming out swinging. I had to hit my spots.”

Plumstead lost at Phil Mont Christian 6-5 last Thursday and whipped Jenkintown 11-2 on Saturday. The Panthers (5-3 Bicentennial) were 9-3 at press time after Tuesday’s monster 24-4 win at Collegium Charter.

“We want to compete and play clean baseball,” said skipper Weaver last Wednesday. “Most importantly, we want a PIAA District One seed. We’re in good shape, but it is not a sealed deal.”

The Panthers offense suffered a blow on April 6 by losing Danny Loving, a .400 hitter last season. But the Panthers have held serve and Loving may soon be back in the lineup.

“We’re looking forward to his return,” the skipper offered. “But Josh Pritchard is doing well. Jackson Mott is stepping up along with Nick Phillipps.”

“Games like this show that we’re a team and not one player,” added Ben Weaver, a Wheaton commit. “Danny is one of our best players so to have a four-game win streak without him shows that we have grit.”