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DISTRICT 2 BASEBALL: Jagger, Mountain View capture Class 2A title

MOOSIC — Mountain View could not have asked for a better start to the District 2 Class 2A baseball final.

The Eagles erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the first inning and pitcher Riley Jagger did the rest for an 8-2 victory over Elk Lake on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Field.

Avenging a loss to its Lackawanna League Division III rival in last year’s district final, Mountain View captured its first District 2 baseball title and advanced to the PIAA playoffs. It will face District 3 champion Delone Catholic in the first round Monday at a site and time to be determined. It will be the Eagles' second state tournament appearance. The other came in 1993 after they won the District 12 title. They lost in the first round to St. Pius X, 8-2.

Tanner Holtsmaster had two hits Wednesday for Mountain View (17-2), which has won 10 straight. Brandon Kilmer had three RBIs in the decisive first inning, while Jackson Gesford finished with two RBIs.

“It’s just amazing,” Riley Jagger said. “This was our goal from the beginning of the year. Nothing else mattered. Just get here and win the district. With it being Elk Lake, that made it a whole lot better.”

Throwing 78 pitches, Riley Jagger allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts in his complete-game win.

“I was throwing a lot of fastballs today,” Riley Jagger said. “My offspeed was working, but I really was relying on that fastball and blowing it by kids today.”

Gifted a seven-run lead certainly made things easier.

"All year long, he's just been our workhorse. And for that matter (Bronson) Kilmer, too," Mountain View coach Ryan McAndrew said. "You give that to a guy with the arm talent and stuff that Riley has, it's just really difficult to come back from.

"Elk Lake's a great team and they battled all year long. They hit Riley hard, but sometimes the ball gets hit right at guys. But we're very fortunate and very happy with the end result because of the beginning."

After Elk Lake went down in order in the top of the first inning, Mountain View sent 13 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and scored seven times.

Ziggy Bradford started it with a leadoff single. After Noah Barnes was hit by a pitch, Bronson Kilmer smacked a double to the left-center field gap to score Bradford and Barnes for a quick 2-0 lead.

Consecutive walks to Riley Jagger and Tanner Holtsmaster loaded the bases. A wild pitch scored Kilmer and when Jordan Jagger walked to reload the bases, Elk Lake made a pitching change with Brayden Miller relieving starter Dawson Sherman.

Jackson Gesford hit a run-scoring fielder’s choice to make it 4-0. Hudson Bain then hit a comebacker to Miller and the Warriors had courtesy runner Ian Briechle hung up between third and home. However, a throwing error allowed Briechle to score.

After the second out of the inning, Bradford walked to reload the bases. Barnes had an RBI single and Kilmer was hit by a pitch to bring home the seventh and final run of the inning.

"It has been our mantra all year long to be aggressive, but free and easy and playing loose and try to jump on people," McAndrew said. "We know with our pitching the way it's been this season, if we're fortunate enough to get a three- or four-spot early, it could hold up. Today it was enough."

Warriors coach Tony Rezykowski said he played out this game a million ways in his mind. This wasn't one of the scenarios.

"We just walked too many guys and threw the ball around," Rezykowski said. "That's uncharacteristic of our team. We haven't played like that all year. I don't know if the pressure got to us or what. I thought we were prepared, but we did not come ready to play in that first inning."

In the bottom of the fourth, Jackson Gesford’s RBI single extended the Eagles’ lead to 8-1.

By them, though, Riley Jagger had things in control.

Elk Lake did get one run back in the top of the second. Noah Gesford led off with a triple and, two batters later, raced home on the catcher’s throw to first base on a third strike in the dirt.

But after Miller singled with two outs, Riley Jagger retired the next eight batters until Miller singled again with one out in the top of the fifth. But he got the final two outs in the fifth, then set down the Warriors in order in the sixth.

"He was on," Rezykowski said. "When he's throwing two or three pitches like that for strikes, he's tough. It's tough to chip away because he doesn't walk guys. We kind of came to life in the last inning but it was too late. Kudos to him. He's a great pitcher."

Elk Lake made things a bit interesting in the top of the seventh. Noah Gesford reached on a two-base error and scored on a double by Sherman. Braydon McMicken singled and Miller walked to load the bases.

But Riley Jagger got the next three hitters on a popup, fly out and a ground ball fielder’s choice to end the game.

“I wasn’t really worried about it. I knew I could pitch to some contact and get some outs,” Riley Jagger said. “I trust my guys behind me 100 percent.

“It got the heart racing a little bit, but I knew I could work out of it. I’ve done it before.”