Keystone Junior Baseball Team Opens Junior League World Series with Victory | News, Sports, Jobs
TAYLOR, Mich. — Nearly a week after winning the first East Regional title in Little League Baseball’s Junior Division for Pennsylvania State, the Keystone Little League team began their journey on Monday. in the Junior League Baseball World Series at Heritage Park in Taylor, Michigan.
After receiving a bye, Keystone was pitted against Wisconsin-based Whitefish Bay Central Region representatives. A strong offensive start allowed the hosts to set the tone early en route to a 13-1 win over Wisconsin.
“It’s really great to see (this kind of debut),” Keystone manager Steve Shade said after the win. “It’s really great for the kids to come out here, in this atmosphere with all these people, and know it’s just a baseball game.
“It’s very important for us to come out and have a game like this to build our confidence.”
Keystone was gone and running early in the first run. Two early walks were erased by a double play, but two hits from Watt Probst, Aiden Jones and Hayes Miller put Keystone up 3-0 early at Whitefish Bay.
That early lead doubled to a six-run cushion in the top of the second with Probst dropping a two-out single followed by a goal-laden walk to Jones two batters later.
The bottom of the third was arguably the difference in the game. After throwing two scoreless runs for Keystone, starter Jones threw back-to-back walks at Wisconsin batsmen to start the third.
Jones was replaced by Darius Shade, who after a single hit to the first batter he faced issued his own pass with the bases loaded. That allowed Charlie McIntyre to score, putting Wisconsin on the board for what would be their only run of the game.
But Shade settled in and forced three straight outs to get out of the jam.
“It’s always important when you can get out of a situation like this and only give up one race,” Shade said. “Darius came in and really sorted things out, that’s why I brought him in, to get some work.
“We played a very good defense today, making a few double plays,” Shadow added. “We handled the basics well, we played all facets of the game very well here today.”
Perhaps building on that momentum of escaping further damage in the previous half-inning, Keystone added three more runs in the top of the fourth. That rally was highlighted by a two-out, two-run home run from Jones to make it 9-1. Cross had a sacrificial front batting fly.
“We had good approaches at home plate” Shade said. “From 1 to 13, there were good approaches throughout the game. My intermediaries, I tell them to wait for their pitch and settle it and that’s what we do.
East made it an even more lopsided win with four runs in the top of the sixth. Probst again had an RBI hit while Jones, Austin Andrus and Josh Ludlow all scored on Wisconsin field errors, on a fly ball from Austin Frank’s bat.
Keystone is the seventh team from Pennsylvania State to compete in the Junior League World Series, the first since 2017 when Kennett Square went 3-1 in the event, good for a second-place finish.
With Keystone’s win today, Pennsylvania is now 12-11 all-time in the JLWS.
Next up for Steve Shade’s group is a game Wednesday night at 8 p.m. against the winner of Monday night’s game between Corpus Christi, Texas (southwest region) and Honolulu, Hawaii (west region).
A victory on Wednesday would put Keystone in the championship game on the American side of the table. Shade had no shortage of adversity on his way to Heritage Park, starting with a run through the consolation bracket en route to a fourth state title for this particular group of players.
They then went unblemished in the Eastern Region, beating the opposition 34-16 in four games.
Shade knows there’s still a long way to go for his team to be the first Pennsylvania team to win a JLWS title. But after a convincing first victory from start to finish and a tough record, the skipper feels optimistic.