NORTH SYRACUSE – Zach Muir made the Crown City Gold all-stars and their fans as comfortable as the late summer evening weather he pitched in.
Muir tossed five shutout innings with 11 strikeouts and just three hits allowed, all singles, to push Crown City over North Syracuse Kennedy, 4-0, in the New York Little League Section 8 semifinal Thursday at Lonergan Park.
After a grinding first inning that saw Muir escape with the bases loaded, the Crown City offense rewarded his efforts in the bottom half when Garrick Ott plated Cal Albright with an RBI single.
It would be all the offense Muir would need, as he was on cruise control for the rest of his outing.
Between the second and fifth innings, Muir recorded nine consecutive outs via strikeout, and finished his outing with his 11th K to finish the top of the fifth.
“My arm just felt really good tonight,” Muir said. “Even though the last few days it’s been hurting a little bit, it felt better today. I knew with the bottom of the order I had some relief so I could keep my pitch count down and keep putting it by them.”
Blake Birdsall extended the Crown City lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the second with an RBI double plating Joel Carr.
Still, Crown City figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a little insurance going into the final frame. And in the bottom of the fifth, they came through with three hits, all for extra bases, plating two runs to extend the lead to 4-0.
One of those hits came from Muir, who was swinging the bat as aggressively as he was pitching, clearly wanting to help his own cause. His first two at-bats didn’t go his way, as he flew out and struck out with runners on base in the first and third innings.
On a two-strike count in the fifth, however, he laced a triple the opposite way to right field, missing a home run by less than two feet, plating Blair Mulcahy, who had just driven home Owen Johnson with his second triple of the night.
“We talked to the kids about getting on base early and scoring runs,” Crown City manager Ben Albright said. “We did it… that’s huge, getting those two out runs and one out runs with a guy on third. Those insurance runs late definitely help.”
Crown City will face Syracuse for the Section 8 championship Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Lonergan Park. Syracuse outlasted North Syracuse Fosberg in a wild 15-14 slugfest in the other semifinal.