aALTOONA - Luke Eberhart went into Altoona's 13-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament against Mifflin County with one thing on his mind: to throw strikes.
The tall righty did just that. Eberhart, along with an explosive offense, upended Mifflin County, which had won its first two games in the tournament with ease, 12-1 in five innings.
The Altoona pitcher was on point from the start. Eberhart was hitting his spots and controlled the Mifflin County offense throughout the game. Mifflin County had one hit through four innings before stringing a pair of hits together in the fifth to scrape across its only run.
Sentinel photo by J.D. CAVRICH
Mifflin County’s Cade Attick makes a nice stop from his knees and throws out an Altoona runner at first in the 13-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament Friday.
"He controlled his pitches and he put the ball where he needed to put it," Altoona coach Jim Kulik said. "It was a nice performance from him."
Eberhart pitched all five innings, allowing just three Mifflin County hits, only one of which was hit with any authority. He struck out five.
"He pitched real well today," Mifflin County coach Fred Zook said. "We're a really good hitting team but he came in and threw strikes and they played great defense."
Mifflin County, now 2-1 in pool play in the tournament, takes on Williamsport today at noon in Altoona. The host team will take on Brookhaven tonight at 8.
Not to be outdone by Eberhart's pitching performance, the Altoona boys stood tall against Mifflin County's top pitcher Ty Bodtorf. Bodtorf had pitched Wednesday for Mifflin County, picking up the win against Middletown. But Altoona didn't care.
The tournament host belted out eight hits en route to the 12-run afternoon. Dakota Chamberlain, who may have been the smallest player on the field, finished the game 3 for 4 with a three-run double to cap a nine-run fourth inning for Altoona. Alex Weaver collected a pair of hits and drove in four runs.
"We crushed the ball and we've been working on that," Kulik said. "We were able to come through today."
It was a fairly close game until the fourth. But that's when the wheels came off for Bodtorf and Mifflin County. The first five Altoona hitters scored in the inning before Mifflin County could record an out. Weaver added a two-run single that was followed by Cody Storm's two-run double. Three straight walks and a strikeout set the stage for Chamberlain's shot that made it to the fence in left.
"Dakota Chamberlain came up big for us," Kulik said. "A little skinny kid came up and drove in three runs for us."
Mifflin County's struggles came from the start. But that doesn't mean it didn't have chances to score. Eberhart didn't have a 1-2-3 inning in his five innings of work. But he was able to pitch around some walks and get out of a few jams.
Bodtorf had Mifflin County's only hit prior to the fifth inning, an infield single in the first. Unfortunately for his team, he was stranded in scoring position when the inning ended.
Mifflin County's best scoring chance before the final inning was in the second. Damon Jasper drew a leadoff walk but Jonah Kile's fielder's choice left a runner on first. Kile swiped second base and then moved to third on a passed ball. That's where he was stranded.
"It didn't seem like we were ready," Zook said. "They were in a daze somewhere."
Altoona was looking for the shutout heading into the final inning, up 12-0. But Mifflin County was able to scratch a run out.
Cade Attick hit a one-out double off the wall in left. After he moved to third on a passed ball, Isaac Maclay's single drove him home.
"We play Williamsport today. Hopefully we can come back and stay focused," Zook said.