SELINSGROVE – It’s on to the Section 3 championship game for the Warrior Run Major Division All-Star team.
Following a 4-0 victory over Orwigsburg on Saturday, Warrior Run took the driver’s seat in the tournament with a 5-3 triumph against Keystone Sunday afternoon at East Snyder Park’s DeWire Field.
A three-run home run by Landon Polcyn, plus some solid relief pitching helped Warrior Run prevail in the contest.
Warrior Run will now get a much-needed day off before playing the Orwigsburg and Roosevelt Trail winner in Tuesday’s championship game at 5:30 p.m.
“All I can say is, wow. We don’t make it easy, and I’m going to have to get my heart checked when the tournament is done,” said Warrior Run manager Derrick Zechman.
“It was a gutsy, gutsy performance by my kids. Keystone, tip your hats, is always a great team. They are always the team to beat and the game is never over until you get the last out off of them. They made us earn everything.”
Polcyn had a big hand in helping Warrior Run get past Keystone by first hitting a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning. A one-out single from Griffin Harrington and a fielder’s choice by Brayden Gower set the stage for Polcyn.
The home run was especially satisfying for Polcyn, who, his father says, normally strikes out in that situation.
“Well, I got up to the plate and in my first at-bat I usually strike out, so I wanted to prove my dad wrong – like that’s not how it’s going to happen every time,” said Polcyn. “I was due. In my last game I struck out twice and I just wanted to take that back, so I just came through.”
That home run may have given Warrior Run the lead and some early confidence, but Keystone closed the gap with a pair of runs in the second on Zach St. Clair’s two-run single to center.
“That three-run home run by Polcyn was big to help us get the momentum early, but credit to Keystone – they put a two-spot up, and they battled in every at-bat,” said Zechman.
The remainder of the game would play out that way, too, as Warrior run tacked on two more runs in the third on a fielder’s choice RBI from Cohen Zechman and then an RBI single flared to center by Cooper Wilkins.
Keystone later got a bases-loaded walk by Isiah Maldonado in the fourth off Polcyn, who entered in relief of starter Brayden Gower.
However, that would be the last run Polcyn and fellow reliever Chase Knarr gave up the rest of the way. The duo held Keystone hitless from the fourth inning on as well – though the team threatened late by loading up the bases in the sixth on a pair of walks and a hit-batsman.
“I really wanted the ball, and I just came out wanting to throw strikes and that’s what I did – and my defense helped me, too” said Polcyn, who struck out five and got to record the final out on 1-3 putout.
“We found a way to win when it was tough. There were a lot of pressure situations during the game, and our kids responded to every one of them,” said manager Zechman. “We told the boys coming in that the game was going to be a roller coaster, and some things aren’t going to go our way and we just have to weather the storm – and that’s what they did.
“They showed some heart and fight to put us in a good situation, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Keystone again (on Tuesday),” added Warrior Run’s manager. “Every game is going to be tough, but we have a day off and that’s really going to help when you’ve been playing like every day.”
Section 3 Tournament
At East Snyder Park, Selinsgrove
Warrior Run 5, Keystone 3
Keystone 020 100 – 3-5-1
Warrior Run 302 00x – 5-5-1
Gage Laughliner, Hart Fletcher Jr. (5) and Eli Bailey. Brayden Gower, Landon Polcyn (4), Chase Knarr (6) and Griffin Harrington, Gabe Engel (4), Harrington (6).
WP: Gower. LP: Laughliner.
Keystone hitters: Jase Seltzer, single, FC; Bryce Brungard, 2 walks; Isiah Maldanado, walk, RBI; Jake Weaver, single; Caleb Mahoney, single, run scored; Bailey, double, walk, HBP, 2 runs; Zach St. Clair, single, 2 walks, 2 RBI; Laughliner, walk.
Warrior Run hitters: Tyler Ulrich, walk, run scored; Harrington, 2-for-3, run; Gower, FC, run; Polcyn, 2-for-2, HR (1st, 2 on), 3 RBI, 2 runs; Cohen Zechman, FC, RBI; Cooper Wilkins, single, RBI; James Keifer, walk; Zamir Keyes, single.