Small ball big for Cumberland Valley

LEWISTOWN – The Mifflin County baseball squad looked to notch its first victory of the 2013 campaign as Cumberland Valley came to town Tuesday but the home team struggled to put the bat on the ball and the Huskies fell to the Mid-Penn Commonwealth foe, 9-2.

Seth Wagner took the hill for his second start of the young season and kept the Eagles at bay for four innings as the big left hander fanned eight hitters and walked five.

The Huskies got it going in the third. With one out, Mifflin County’s two, three and four hitters drew walks, setting the stage for Wagner with two outs. He squared at the plate and laid down a safety squeeze that knocked in the go-ahead run.

The Huskies would not score again.

Schryuer got settled and Mifflin County struggled to make an adjustment to the left hander who mixed his fast ball well with his off-speed pitches.

“We talked about just trying to produce for a run and we thought one or two runs might be the difference,” Mifflin County coach Travis Zook said. “It started out being that way for the first five innings but we still watched way too many balls come through.”

The fifth inning was a much different story.

Hitting base to base and playing small ball became the recipe for success for the visitors.

Cumberland Valley’s leadoff hitter smacked a single up the middle off of Wagner’s mitt and a failed sacrifice bunt attempt by the two hitter led to a walk, giving the visitors a first and second situation with zero outs. Cumberland Valley’s three hitter laid down a bunt that was not handled and the Eagles were in business with the bases full setting the stage for opposing pitcher and clean up hitter, Hunter Schryuer. Schryuer knocked a two-run single, giving his Eagles the lead, 3-2. Michael Adams followed suit with a two-run single that took the air out of the Huskies. The Eagles sent seven batters to the plate before the Huskies could record an out in the inning.

The Eagles kept the pressure on reliever Heath Hidlay – bunting two more times and forcing the reliever to make a play. Following two misplayed bunts, Hidlay settled in and induced a flyout to right field and an inning-ending double play to stop the rally. The damage was already done, though, and the Huskies were looking up at a five-run deficit.

“When they put the ball in play at times we did struggle with it,” Zook said. “Things kind of fell apart in the one inning and the wheels kind of came off with three or four bad plays and that was the difference.”

The Huskies’ hopes for a comeback were deflated in the fifth and sixth innings as Schryuer and reliever Mitchel Lacey fanned six-straight hitters. The Eagles’ duo of Schryuer and Lacey threw a combined no hitter, striking out 13 Mifflin County batters and walking seven.

“I think mentally we just have to be tougher at the plate,” Zook said.

Mifflin County (0-2, 0-2) hosts Central Dauphin East Thursday at 4 p.m.