MMI Prep baseball blanks Forest City to win District 2 Class A crown

By Dave Rosengrant - For Times Leader
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MOOSIC — Marcus Danchision may be a freshman, but he’s not fazed by the big moment.

Having pitched in big moments before in Wyoming Valley Conference games and on travel teams, the MMI Prep pitcher proved again on Tuesday in the District 2 Class A championship game at PNC Field that he’s ready for the spotlight.

The right-hander tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout as the Preppers claimed their first district title since 2014 with a 3-0 win over top-seeded Forest City.

With the win, the fifth-seeded Preppers advance to the District 2-11 Class A subregional final against second-seeded Tri-Valley at 4:30 p.m. today at Pottsville for the chance to advance to the state tournament.

“I’ve pitched in big-time situations before and visited some big-time places before, so I wasn’t nervous at all,” said Danchision, who also was the winning pitcher against Lincoln Leadership in the quarterfinals. “I was confident. I knew what I had, and I knew my team could come get this for me.”

Danchision used his changeup and power curveball to keep the Foresters’ hitters off-balance, but his command of his pitches was the key. He only walked one batter while striking out eight. He hit his spots and threw strikes to rely on his defense to make plays.

He didn’t allow a hit until the third inning and only allowed one more the next inning. No Forest City baserunner advanced past second base.

“Throwing strikes helps me make sure they put the ball in play, and I rely on my defense more than I do strikeouts,” Danchision said. “Strikeouts just come when I get to an 0-2 count and then think, ‘OK, I might as well go after this kid.’ But I like getting quick outs so I can get all the way through seven innings.”

It took a little while for the Preppers offense to get going, even though Forest City starter Eric Paulin walked four batters in the first two innings. MMI finally broke through in the fifth, taking advantage of an error to score the game’s first run.

In the sixth inning, MMI pushed across two more runs as a strange play highlighted the frame. Forest City pitcher Kyle Shema couldn’t get a fielded ball out of his glove, so he threw his whole glove over to first base. But a collision ensued, instead allowing another run to score.

After that play, MMI coach Ryan Jastremsky felt like the baseball gods were on his side.

“The first half of the season, we got so many bad breaks between the weather and the field and we were getting bad bounces in games and funny things were happening to us,” Jastremsky said. “We told the kids to keep believing that the baseball gods were going to turn and that hopefully soon these things would start going our way. Thankfully, that’s what happened today.

“It never hurts either to have a little bit of luck. …We found a way to win. Good teams find a way to win.”

MMI had at least one baserunner in every inning except the fourth but came up empty on many chances, stranding 11 runners for the game. Fortunately for the Preppers, that didn’t affect the outcome — just a young team trying to do too much, Jastremsky said.

“We do play a lot of freshmen and sophomores. They need to relax and trust their talents, trust what they’re capable of doing,” Jastremsky said. “And you learn from your mistakes. And the more times that you’re in that situation, the more likely you are to come through next time.”

District 2 Class A championship

MMI Prep 3, Forest City 0

MMI Prep`AB`R`H`BI

Palermo ss`4`0`1`0

Danchision p`3`0`0`0

Book dh` 2`0`0`0

Frask lf`0`0`0`0

Hoover 3b`3`0`0`0

Kassick cf`4`1`2`0

Jordan c`1`0`0`0

McNulty 1b`4`0`0`0

Lobitz 2b`4`1`2`1

Warner rf`1`1`1`1

Badamo lf`0`0`0`0

Totals`26`3`6`1

Forest City`AB`R`H`BI

Daniels 3b`2`0`0`0

Sassani 2b `3`0`0`0

Shema ss`2`0`0`0

Bronson ph`1`0`0`0

Knehr-Cook c` 3`0`0`0

Clift cf`3`0`1`0

Tomlinson 1b`3`0`0`0

Zukosky rf`3`0`0`0

O’Neill lf`3`0`1`0

Paulin p`2`0`0`0

Carey ph`0`0`0`0

Totals`25`0`2`0

MMI Prep`000`012`0 — 3

Forest City`000`000`0 — 0

MMI Prep`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Danchision (W) `7.0`2`0`0`1`8

Forest City `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Paulin `2.0`1`0`0`4`2

Shema (L)`4.0`3`3`0`1`6

Knehr Cook`1.0`1`0`0`2`0

https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_baseball_graphic1-5.jpg

By Dave Rosengrant

For Times Leader