WILLIAMSPORT - For the Midd-West baseball team, it was deja vu all over again.
A year ago, the Mustangs lost 1-0 in nine innings to Jersey Shore in the District 4 Class AAA baseball championship game.
Wednesday night the same two teams met head on for the district title, and again the Bulldogs again came out on top of the Mustangs, 4-0, to win their fourth straight district title.
Sentinel photo by BOB?PHILLIPS
Midd-West pitcher Hunter Shuff (6) gets a show of support from teammates during the District 4 Class AAA baseball championship game in Williamsport Wednesday.
"We only hit the ball hard one time tonight and that was my number seven hitter, the Snook boy," Midd-West coach Ron Flood said. "When you make five errors and only get one hit, you aren't going to win the ball game. I was really upset about the loss last year, but I am not upset by tonight's loss because we gave it to them. When you make that many errors, give up four unearned runs and they beat you 4-0, you aren't going to win. That is just the way it goes."
Flood also had some good words for the Shore team and program.
"They have an excellent program and that is a good team that beat us out there tonight," Flood said. "They are so good that you have to beat them because they aren't going to beat themselves. Is it disappointing to have lost? Yes it is, but at the same time, I don't expect to win ball games like this one."
Flood knew coming into the game that his troops had to bring their A-game to Historic Bowman Field to be able to walk off the field with a championship.
"I told them, gentlemen you are going to have to play flawless baseball if you want to have a chance to beat these guys and we didn't," Flood said. "We just couldn't hit the ball hard and that is a tribute to their pitcher for keeping us off balance. When you hit little popups and grounders like we did, it makes it easy to play defense."
With Hunter Shuff and Shore's Michael Schoonmaker locked in a tight pitching duel through three-and-a-half innings, the Bulldogs finally broke through with a run in their half of the fourth.
In that inning, Christian Rishel led off with a sharp single to center, stole second, went to third on an error by the Mustangs' center fielder and scored on a ground single to left by Zach DePasqua.
In the fifth, the Bulldogs parlayed hits by Eric Huling, Brody Smith and Colton Potter with a Midd-West error to tally two more runs for a 3-0 lead after five complete innings before adding the game's final run in the bottom of the sixth.
Doing the outstanding job on the bump for Shore was Schoonmaker, a senior right-hander. For the game, Schoonmaker allowed only an infield single to deep short by Eli Stem while striking out four while not issuing a single walk.
"We didn't attack the baseball. We really didn't," Flood said. "That kid (Schoonmaker) had them off stride and when he did throw a strike, we didn't attack it. Again, we didn't attack the baseball but a large part of that was due to the fact that he kept us off balance. I can't take anything away from him because he did a job on us."
For Flood, the game was his swan song as the Mustang's head coach.
"Would I like to have gone out on a better note, yes I would have because this is the last game I am going to coach," said Flood. "Sure I would have liked to have been district champs, but it just didn't happen."
The Mustangs wrap up the season at 14-7, while the Bulldogs advance to the state tournament.