DANVILLE - When West Snyder eliminated Selinsgrove from the Susquehanna Valley American Legion League playoffs earlier this week, Selinsgrove coach Bryan Mohr gave West Snyder full credit for the win, stating that West Snyder had hit its stride at just the right time in the season. Perhaps Mohr's words were prophetic.
On Saturday evening, in what proved to be a high-intensity game full of sharp line drives, double plays, and diving catches, the West Snyder boys were in full stride, defeating Danville in an 11-4 offensive blowout.
In the top of the first, West Snyder hit the ground running, batting through the entire lineup to jump on top of Danville with a six-run lead.
The offensive onslaught was started by Shane Connahan, who watched four pitches from Danville's starting pitcher Zach Kozick go by for a lead off walk. Connahan was then bunted to second by Colton Keister, leaving West Snyder with runners on first and second.
Things then started to look a little grim when Nick Lorenz hit into a 4-6-3 double play, leaving Connahan on third with two outs, but hope was again revived when clean-up batter Luke Zimmerman reached first on a walk, putting runners at first and third. With everything in prime condition, Alex Lash brought in the first run of the game with an RBI double deep into left field, scoring Connahan and advancing Zimmerman to third.
Once this initial run was scored, West Snyder couldn't be stopped. The next three batters, Bailey Coder, Colton Snook and Eli Stem, hit back-to-back-to-back RBI singles to score the next four runs, and then Zach Mast put the ball in play and forced an error at first, scoring one last run for the inning.
West Snyder travels to Sunbury today
By this point, with only a half inning of play completed and down by six, the Danville batters knew they had their work cut out for them if they wanted a chance at a win. And this was before they saw West Snyder starting pitcher Coder.
Coder, who would only allow three hits and three runs though six innings, was dominant from the mound and never allowed Danville to regain the lead they had given up in the first.
"He came in and started throwing strikes right from the get-go," West Snyder coach Chris Combs said. "He did a whopper of a job, and that's what you need against a team like Danville, because they're going to hit the ball."
Coder, who painted the outside corner of the plate and kept Danville's hitters off balance all night, also had a lot of help from his defense.
The first noteworthy defensive play occurred during the bottom of the first, when Nick Lorenz pulled off an unassisted double play from shortstop. With runners on second and first, Lorenz made a quick step to his left to catch a screaming line drive from Danville's Trevor Leitzel, then followed his own momentum to step on second, getting out the runner who was stranded too far off the bag.
In the next three innings, Danville's offense couldn't pull anything together, going going down in order as West Snyder continued to play stifling defense.
In the bottom of the fifth, Danville's offense showed some signs of life with a runner on second and one out, but Snook put and end to this when he made a beautiful diving catch in right field to get the second out. The inning was then concluded when Kiester made the final out at third.
This stifling defense, plus West Snyder's explosive offense, meant Danville never really had a chance at the win.
"We hit the ball hard up and down the line up." Combs said. "I told them everyone had to contribute tonight, and everyone did."
West Snyder was originally supposed to play at Sunbury Sunday evening. However, the game was rained out and pushed back to today at 5:45.