MILROY - For the first four games of the tournament trail, the Mifflin County Babe Ruth 14-year-olds had mostly easy games; the closest game was a nine-run margin in the locals' favor.
That all changed Sunday night in the Pennsylvania Babe Ruth tournament.
Franklin Township went toe to toe with Mifflin County but finally blinked - Mifflin County won 7-5 after falling behind by four runs early.
Tonight, Mifflin County can clinch a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the bracket with a win over West End of Williamsport at 8 p.m.
Mifflin County was down 4-0 after two innings. The comeback started in the third inning as Mifflin County scored four times on just one hit.
Peyton Reesman had the only hit in the inning, an RBI single. Alex Hackenberg scored on a wild pitch and Reesman scored when the Franklin Township catcher had a wild throw on a steal play. The other run was forced home on a Tyler Powell bases-loaded walk.
Franklin Township crept back in front with a run in the fourth inning as Kenneth Sneer, who had three hits, came through with an RBI single.
The score stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth when Mifflin County rallied to take the lead and had the local fans on their feet.
Hackenberg and Isaiah Kearns opened the inning by tying the game with back-to-back doubles. Reesman than advanced Kearns to third with a sacrifice bunt. Jared Soles walked and stole second, putting two men in scoring position.
Lucas Harshbarger became the hero of the day when he came through with a pinch-hit, two-run double.
Harshbarger, however, tried to stretch his double into a triple and was thrown out at third base. Graham Rhoades followed with a single and Andrew Larson walked, but the rally ended when Powell flew out to left.
Still, the excitement was far from over.
Reesman went six innings on the mound but in the seventh Scott Wright, the Mifflin County manager, went to Kearns to close out the game.
Kearns started the inning by going to a full count on Jordan McElmoyle before hitting him with a pitch. Sneer hit into a fielder's choice, then Wyatt Clements singled to put Franklin Township runners on first and second.
Kearns then got Brady Nichhoff to hit a slow grounder between second and first. Kearns made the play as he covered first and Reesman, now playing first, picked up the infield ball and flipped it back to Kearns for the second out.
The game then ended when Kearns struck out Ryan Malartey.
"Tonight was a total team effort," Wright said. "Everybody did what we asked them to do. They gave us 100 percent. Even our bench was pulling for the starters on the field. Peyton pitched a heck of a game, but we didn't help him by not backing him up. Isaiah came in and shut the door."
Reesman struck out five, walked three and gave up six hits. Kearns finished with one strike out, giving up a hit and no runs.
Mifflin County finished with 10 hits. Kearns had three hits including a double. Powell finished two hits. The only other extra-base hit was a double from Hackenberg.
Mifflin County 19, Blue Valley 3
MILROY - Scott Wright, the Mifflin County Babe Ruth 14-year-old manager, couldn't have wished for a better start to the state tournament than he got Saturday night.
Mifflin County won its opening game of the tournament with a 19-3 victory over Blue Valley.
Wright got everything he wished for: a well pitched game and lots of hitting.
"Our pitching was real good," Wright said. "When you hit the ball, good things are going to happen. I thought we were aggressive on the base paths."
Mifflin County had 11 hits with Isaiah Kearns and Alex Hackenberg combining for five of those. Kearns finished with three hits and five RBIs, while Hackenberg had two hits and drove in three runs.
On the mound, Kearns picked up the win with four innings of work. He struck out four, including the side in the second inning. He walked one and gave up one hit, a double to Nick Boushell in the fourth.
Drew Harshbarger closed out the win as he pitched the fifth and sixth innings. He gave up the final two runs on two hits. He struck out one and didn't walk a batter.
Jake Holben and C.J. Lopez greeted Harshbarger with back-to-back hits, but that was the end of the Blue Valley offense.
Mifflin County opened the game with three runs in the first inning. Aaron Sharp singled with one out to get the Mifflin County offense going. Hackenberg reached on an error and then Kearns ripped a two-run triple. Kearns later scored on a wild pitch.
Kearns knocked in two more runs in the third inning with a single. Then in the fifth Mifflin County scored two more times as Lucas Harshbarger came through with a pinch-hit, two-run single.
In the sixth, Mifflin County wrapped up the game with an 11-run inning. Hackenberg had both of his hits in the inning including a two run double. Kearns and Drew Harshbarger each had run producing singles with Harshbarger's driving in two.
Mifflin County only had three extra-base hits in the game with Jared Soles getting a double in the first inning.