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St. Louis Cardinals pitcher motivates local ball player

Ryan Hontz loves baseball, but the 15-year-old's career almost ended when he was struck by a line drive on July 21.

Posted: Jul 31, 2018 10:50 PM

(UNION STAR, Mo.)- Ryan Hontz loves baseball, but the 15-year-old pitcher's career almost ended when he was struck by a line drive on July 21.

"It was so quick, I couldn't get out of the way," Ryan Hontz said. 

Ryan Hontz loves baseball, but the 15-year-old's career almost ended when he was struck by a line drive on July 21. 

Hontz started playing baseball when he was 7-years-old,and spent this summer playing for the Northwest Missouri All-Stars, a select group of teenagers chosen. 

The team traveled to Illinois for the regional tournament two weeks ago. Hontz entered the game in the fourth inning and he got the first two batters out. But the third batter, with two strikes, rifled a bitch back toward Hontz. 

"I knew they were a hard-hitting team, they were really hitting the ball," Ryan's father Rick Hontz said. 

The line drive struck Ryan in the head, immediately sending him to the ground. 

"We weren't sure how extensive the injuries were, of course taking the ball to the head, you never know," Ryan's mother Mandy Hontz said. 

Ryan's father, Rick, rushed to the field to check on his son. 

"I couldn't believe it," Rick said. "Just the scariest moment, to see your kid get knocked out and go face cirst into the mound and motionless."

Ryan suffered a fractured skull from the top of his head down past his right ear, a concussion, severe brain bruises, and bleeding on the brain, but somehow, Ryan is already out of the hospital, gradually resuming every day life. 

On the Hontz's way home from the hospital, they learned of a Major League, who had suffered a similar injury, Daniel Poncedeleon.

The St. Louis Cardinals pitcher was struck by a line drive on May 9, 2017, when he pitched for the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate).

The right-hander made his Major League debut on July 23, 2018, throwing seven innings of hitless ball against the Cincinnati Reds. 

"Seeing what happened to him, going back out there throwing a no-hitter, makes me want to go out there and try to do the same as him," Ryan said. 

Poncedeleon called Ryan Tuesday afternoon, offering words of encouragement during Ryan's quest back to the mound, providing the 15-year-old sophomore words of encouragement. 

"When Daniel called me, it made me really happy," Ryan said. 

From cards, get-well soon packages from the Kansas City Royals, and a phone call from a Major Leaguer, Ryan has just one goal in mind.

"I want to keep with it," Ryan said. "I want to keep pitching."

Hontz was nominated for the All-Star team by his King City senior league squad. 

He will be a sophomore at Union Star this school year and play baseball for King City. 

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