WILLIAMSPORT - It was close for awhile, and then it wasn't.
That is the way the Mifflin County-Wayne County game played out Sunday in the Pennsylvania 15-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament.
Mifflin County defeated Wayne County 15-4 in six innings. Mifflin County will close out its pool play today at 1 p.m. against defending state champion Bensalem.
Sentinel photo by KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY
Mifflin County’s Lucas McKay makes a throw to first base for an out during Saturday’s game against West End at the 2012 Pennsylvania 15-year-old Babe Ruth Tournament at Logue Field in Williamsport.
The locals now are 2-1 and after Monday's game will have to wait to see how they stand - the single elimination part of the tournament doesn't start until Wednesday. Six of the nine teams in the tournament will advance.
Wayne County was its own worse enemy on Sunday as it committed nine errors. Six of those miscues led directly to Mifflin County runs. In fact, there wasn't an inning that Mifflin County scored that Wayne County didn't have an error.
But with all the miscues, the game was still close going into the top of the sixth as Mifflin County led only by four runs, 8-4.
Carter Spade led off the inning with a single and then stole second and landed at third on a throwing error. Lucas McKay walked, before Drew Hannon hit a pop foul ball to the Wayne County first baseman.
Then Mifflin County manager Bernie Howard, decided to play small ball as Jared Michaels tapped a squeeze bunt that scored Spade.
After that play Mifflin County got six straight batters on base before the final out. By then the score was 15-4.
"We took advantage of their errors," Howard said. "Isn't it funny how when we executed the squeeze bunt that it was such a big play and by the end of the inning we had obliviated the scoreboard."
The fourth inning wasn't the only time that Mifflin County came up with a two-out rally. In the second, after Wayne County had turned a double play, Mifflin County scored four times.
Hunter Shuff doubled and Blaise Roush was hit by a pitch. Jacob Walters singled Shuff home. Hunter Walker was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and Max Remy hit a ball to third, where it was thrown away for a three-base error.
Mifflin County added two more runs in the third. McKay opened the inning by reached on an error. After two out, Mifflin County again scored.
Shuff knocked home McKay with a single and then he stole second and third and scored when the Wayne County catcher threw the ball away at third base.
In the fifth, Mifflin County scored twice as Hannon singled, stole second and scored when Roush reached on an error. Walker later drove home Roush with a base hit.
Shuff got the win as he pitched the first four innings. He struck out three, walked two and gave up eight hits and four runs. Nate Koller closed out the game for Mifflin County with two scoreless innings. He walked three and gave up one hit.
Mifflin County came up with two double plays as Remy and McKay turned two 4-6-3 twin killings.
Another defensive gem came from Jacob Walters, who made an outstanding diving catch in center field to end the second inning.
West End 6, Mifflin County 1
WILLIAMSPORT - Somehow, the score column turned dry.
At the Babe Ruth 15-year-old state tournament on Saturday, Mifflin County turned riches into rags as it fell to rugged West End, 6-1. Actually, Mifflin County played quite well - it just wasn't the 33-run performance the team notched to open the nine-team pool play portion of the tournament at Williamsport's Logue Field.
Except for Saturday's fifth inning, the game between the old rivals could have gone either way. West End opened with a solo run in the top of the first, then exploded for five runs as it sent 10 to the plate in the fifth.
Mifflin County continued the fight with Dakotah Schlegel and Hunter Walker smacking back-to-back singles in the bottom of the seventh with Max Remy driving home the only run.
"I guess we left our offense back home for a game," Mifflin County manager Bernie Howard said. "But it was a very well-played game and a lot closer than the score indicated. Sometimes things just don't go your way."
"That was a great game between two friendly rivals and two class organizations," West End manager Scott Niklaus said.
Blaise Roush, Mifflin County's lanky lefty, was locked in an intense pitcher's duel with David Sanders until a triple by Ian Dinsmore broke it open.
"My curve was really working today," said Sanders, who had thrown a complete-game, no-hit shutout when West End swept its district.
"We knew they were good," Roush said. "But we were confident until the end."
Mifflin County finished with five hits off Sanders and reliever Bradley Walter, including a double by Lucas McKay. Carter Spade and Jacob Walters also had singles.
Indeed, the slugging output was sparse compared to the 30 hits Mifflin County strung together in Thursday's 33-2 hammering of Brandywine. What wasn't missing for Mifflin County was yet another stellar defensive effort that included gems by McKay at short, Spade in right, and Drew Hannon at first.
"You have to respect them because they're a really good team," said Dinsmore, the West End second sacker. "But we played fantastic."
Of course, the two could possibly meet again as the top six teams advance to elimination play, which begins Wednesday.