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Northern Tier WEST Sports Report
MANSFIELD, PA — The North Penn-Mansfield baseball team had a five-win improvement over a season ago, thanks to contributions from throughout a lineup that featured a nice mix of veterans and newcomers for Head Coach Rob Davis.

“It was a tough ending to the season,” says Davis, “but it was nice to get back into districts and I felt like we were as good as anybody in there. As a team, I felt like we were solid one through nine.”

The Tigers finished the regular season 13-7 and were the No. 4 seed for the District 4 Class 3A playoffs, where they’d take an early lead but fall to eventual district runner-up, Warrior Run.

“Giving up a five-run lead stung,” says Davis, “but it happens. Cooper (Shaw) and Alex (Davis) kept us in every game they pitched together in. I think we won something like 11 of the 13 games they did.”

North Penn-Mansfield uncharacteristically gave up 22 runs to the Defenders in the first-round loss that brought the Tigers’ season to an end.

The Tigers were hot to start the season, running their record to 6-1 with wins over large school-foe Athens (9-2) and over District 4 2A champ Wyalusing (9-3).

Mansfield would drop two straight games for the only time on the season after their 6-1 start and finished off the regular season going 7-6, with three of the losses coming by just one run .. including a 7-6 loss to NTL-II champ Canton, a 4-3 loss to Wyalusing and a 2-1 loss to 3A runner-up South Williamsport.

The Tigers scored nearly seven runs per game on the year and received contributions up and down their lineup as eight Tigers reached double figures in base hits and seven players had 17 or more.

“We were not carried by any one or two individuals,” says Coach Davis, “It really seemed like each game other guys stepped up so that was really nice to see.”

Junior shortstop/pitcher Alex Davis started off the season on a tear, and despite a mid-season “funk”, finished with an impressive stat line that included a .506 on-base-percentage, a .391 batting average, 25 base hits including eight doubles and three home runs, 18 stolen bases, 12 walks drawn and 25 runs scored.

Davis was dominant on the mound as well, going 4-2 on the season with a pair of saves while striking out 48 batters over 42 innings  with an ERA of 2.65.

“Alex started this season out on a crazy pace,” says Dad/Coach Rob of the younger Davis, “Through seven games he had like eight doubles and two home runs and you would never have known it by watching him. Then he went into a funk for some time, but while he was figuring it out and working out of it, he continued to help us win games, whether with some timely sacrifices, drawing walks and with his pitching.”

Davis points to senior Karson Dominick as another example of a player sacrificing for the overall good of the team. 

“Karson was a three-year starter for us,” says Davis. “And he probably played every position on the field over his career and he was a steady, reliable presence on the mound also, but this year we needed him to catch and he embraced that role for us. I would say that our win improvement can be directly correlated to his willingness to do that.”

Dominick finished the season hitting .358 with 24 base hits (including five doubles), 15 RBI and 12 runs scored while also going 3-1 on the mound for the Tigers, throwing 27 and a third innings with a 5.63 ERA and 28 strikeouts. 

Davis notes seniors Cody Hermansen (.333BA, .486 OBP, 18 hits, 5-2B, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 14 runs) and Cade Kurzejewski (.297 BA, .373 OBP, 19 hits, 2-2B, 1 HR, 14 runs) as players who provided valuable leadership on and off the field.

“Cody was a three-year starter who had a really good year for us,” says Davis. “He devoted a lot of time over the years to baseball and I really appreciated that. I applaud him for making the most out of his senior year ..   he embraced his teammates throughout the year and he should be proud of his season.” 

“Cade was a two-year starter for us and is another guy who devoted a ton of time to baseball,” says Davis. “Playing travel ball all the way up through ..  Cade had to make the move to center field for us mid-season and he proved a lot of people wrong by making it look easy.”

Davis also recognized his remaining senior’s contribution on the year. 

“Conner Shuman appeared in six games this year after missing last year with an injury,” says Davis, “and he contributed throughout games and practices .. helping out wherever he could and being a good role model for the younger guys.”

While the graduating seniors will be missed, Davis is excited after some of his underclassmen had breakout seasons this year and join Alex Davis as the core of the Tigers’ program next season. 

“Easton Pequignot is a three-year starter who had a breakout second half of the season that compares to any in the district,” says Davis, “raising his batting average up to .331 with an on-base-percentage of .387 with 18 base hits, 12 RBI and 11 runs scored .. but his most important role was .. as has been since his freshman year .. is playing the infield. He moves around from shortstop, 3rd to 2nd base and does so effortlessly. Really looking forward to seeing him play his senior year.”

“Cooper Shaw is a three-year starter and another guy that had a really strong second half of the season,” says Davis, “Ended up hitting .268 with 19 base hits, 14 RBI, and 14 runs scored and also was dominant on the mound this year .. throwing 52 and a third innings with a 2.54 ERA and 47 strikeouts.”

“Riley Oakes was a second-year starter for us this year who continues to improve daily,” Davis continues, “he hit .293 and bumped to the #2 hole and had 17 hits with an on-base-percentage of .408. Riley is and has been one of the hardest workers in the program so it's been great to see him improve year-in and year-out.” 

Davis will also look at expanding the roles of several younger underclassmen who saw valuable playing time this season, including sophomores Andy Hermansen (.429 OBP, .268 BA, 11 hits, 1-3B, 6 RBI, 17 runs) and Jason Harer (.360 OBP, .286 BA, 4 RBI) and freshman Cameron Caldwell (.400 OBP, 5 R, 3 RBI).

“We return a strong group next season,” says Davis, “and we expect to build off and learn from this year and make a run at the league and the district.”

PHOTOS: Lance Larcom

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