Last updated: June 02. 2014 11:35PM - 1028 Views
By Tom Fox for the Times Leader



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RICE TWP. — Emmett Thomas called Canton a buzz saw with sharp teeth.


The MMI Prep manager probably could have used the words well-oiled machine because the Warriors were pin-point and precise in their PIAA Class A baseball opener at Veterans Field in Mountain Top.


Three Canton pitchers combined on a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts, and the Warriors jumped on MMI starter Eddie Herbener for four runs in the first en route to an 11-1, six-inning victory.


Canton (21-2), state finalists in 2013, advances into Thursday’s quarterfinal round. MMI, champions of District 2, ends its season with a record of 13-8.


“I have so much admiration for our men,” Thomas said. “To battle every day at school, and come to the baseball field and work hard every day, that’s special. They play the game with heart. These kids can play some baseball. We just ran into a very good team.”


It didn’t take long for the Warriors to hit.


Chase Pepper drove the game’s first pitch deep to left field, nearly smashing the fence for a stand-up double. The second pitch didn’t work out for the Preppers, either. Second baseman Trevor Route drove Herbener’s offering to center, easily scoring Pepper from second.


Two pitches, and a 1-0 Warrior lead.


Canton added three more runs in the opening frame; the big shot a two-run single by Tyler Cole, one of three hits on the day for the right fielder.


“We threw everything at them that we had,” said Thomas as a trio of Prepper hurlers allowed 13 hits. “They are a strong bunch of guys. They hit the fastball, and took the curve the other way. We didn’t have a clean game, either. We just lost to a very good baseball team. We always seem to be slow starters. I don’t think our kids quit. Even though we were down, they still believed.”


A four-run cushion was plenty for Canton.


Warriors coach Bob Rockwell decided to start Garrett Wesneski, who also threw in the state championship game last season. The senior, who didn’t pitch in the district playoffs, showed some rust – walking the first two batters he faced and four in three innings of work.


His fastball was overpowering, which help offset his control issues – striking out five of 13 batters he faced.


“I still don’t think I have my best stuff like I did one year ago,” the starting pitcher said. “I’m trying to fight through it. It was good to get out here and get my feet wet again. I won’t lie, those four runs in the first inning really helped me to settle down.”


MMI scored its lone run in the third. Cory Rogers broke up the no-hitter with a one-out single to right field. He scored on a RBI grounder by Charlie Karchner as the Preppers trimmed the lead to 5-1.


It would get no closer. John Bowman and Pepper were masterful in relief of Wesneski – allowing no hits and striking out eight in the final three innings.


“Our game plan was to get three pitchers work,” Canton manager Bob Rockwell said. “The four-run lead had nothing to do with taking out Garrett early. We wanted to give Bowman some work, and get his feet wet.”


Canton added four runs in the fifth on RBI by Route, Bryce Cole and Travis Butcher before sending the game into the mercy rule with two in the sixth.


***


Canton 11, MMI Prep 1 (6 inn.)

PIAA Class A first round

Canton `AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR


Chase Pepper ss-cf-p`3`2`1`0`1`0`0


Trevor Route 2b`4`1`3`2`0`0`0


G. Wesneski p-ss`3`1`1`1`0`0`0


Kyle Landis 3b-lf`3`3`2`0`1`0`0


Connor Route 1b`4`1`1`1`0`0`0


Tyler Cole rf `3`2`2`3`0`0`0


Bryce Cole lf`1`0`0`0`0`0`0


Tanner Machmer 3b`3`0`1`2`0`0`0


John Bowman cf-p`0`0`0`0`0`0`0


Mason Moore cf`0`0`0`0`0`0`0


J. McClinton dh`0`0`0`0`0`0`0


Mason Mortell dh`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Jordan Bentley dh`1`0`1`1`0`0`0


Travis Butcher c`4`1`1`1`0`0`0


Totals`32`11`13`11`2`0`0


MMI Prep `AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR


Jared Dasher cf`1`0`0`0`0`0`0


Cory Rogers ss-p`2`0`1`0`0`0`0


C. Karchner rf-ss-p`3`0`0`1`0`0`0


Alec Andes 1b`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Sam Harman c`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Ed Herbener p-rf`1`0`0`0`0`0`0


Kisan Patel lf`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Nick Young 2b`2`0`0`0`0`0`0


R.J. Kupsho 3b`1`1`0`0`0`0`0


Totals`19`1`1`1`0`0`0


Canton` `410`042 – 11


MMI Prep` `001`000 – 1


Canton`IP `H`R`ER`BB`SO


Wesneski (W)`3.0`1`1`1`4`5


Bowman`2.0`0`0`0`1`5


Pepper`1.0`0`0`0`1`3


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


Herbener (L)`4.0`7`7`7`3`4


Rogers`1.1`5`4`4`0`1


Karchner`0.2`1`0`0`0`2

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