7th-inning heroics lift Tigers past Juniata

MIFFLINTOWN – With nothing but pride on the line and a chance to even the season series with its cross-county rivals, the East Juniata softball team held its own and then some, taking Juniata 9-8 in Tri-Valley League action Wednesday afternoon.

East Juniata got a clutch hit by Meisha Heintzelman with two outs and the game tied at eight, capping off a 2-run seventh and clinching the victory.

It was a game that had a little bit of everything – triples, doubles, lead changes and even a rain shower with the sun shining down – but the Tigers were the team to pull it out.

“We had a little mishap early on but it was no big deal, the girls battled through,” East Juniata skipper Joe Schilling said. “It was a well played game on both sides. It’s tough when you lose the lead when you got it the inning before but that’s ball.”

The Tigers were led on offense by pitcher Ashlyn Erhard, who was as tough on the mound as she was at the plate. Erhard went 3-for-4 with a triple, double and a single. She also helped with an RBI.

Juniata was led at the plate by Summer Swab. Swab blasted two triples and a single plus knocking in three in her team’s losing effort.

Despite playing at its own home field, the Indians were designated as the visiting team and despite trailing by a run, Juniata had one last chance at taking control of the game. And take control it did.

Trailing 7-6 in the top of the seventh, the Indians got things started off on the right foot when Micheh Horning hit a seeing-eye double that landed right in between the outfielders and second baseman.

Brinley Irvin lined a blazing shot back to the pitcher that ricocheted off her knee, allowing Irvin to move to second and Horning to tie the game at seven.

Hali Weiand then smoked the ball deep into the outfield for a double as Irvin came in for the go ahead run.

Despite the two runs, the East Juniata defense held and refused to let another run score in the inning.

With the pressure on, the Tigers were up for the challenge in the bottom of the seventh.

As Erhard stood up at the plate, she was cool under pressure roping a single to centerfield.

She moved into scoring position minutes later as teammate Kiley Sheaffer planted a picture perfect sacrifice bunt.

With two outs, the Indians watched as the game was tied on an error, allowing Erhard to score and Callie Shambaugh to stop at second.

Heintzelman then stepped up and sent a rocket shot down the third baseline that scored Shambaugh, ending the game.

“Too may errors tonight and it hurt us,” Juniata manager Brian Sheaffer said. “I am proud of the kids of how they fought back. Like I always say, when East Juniata and Juniata play you throw out the record books.”

In the first, both teams had the bats going early as both the Indians and Tigers brought three runs home in the inning.

The inning was highlighted for Juniata by a 2-RBI single by Irvin and an RBI triple by Swab.

In the East Juniata first, the inning was highlighted by an Erhard RBI triple and hits by Lauren Maguire and Autumn Dressler. Also picking up an RBI in the inning was Lydia Hunter to tie the game at three.

Heintzelman got the ball rolling again for the Tigers in the bottom of the second, reaching on a walk.

With two outs, Maguire then smacked an RBI single, bringing home Heintzelman.

Juniata battled back to take the lead in the third inning, collecting three runs to take a 6-4 advantage.

Irvin led off with an infield hit that she was able to hustle out.

Weiand joined Irvin on the base paths by picking up a single of her own, setting the stage for Swab.

Just like her first at bat, Swab sent a shot to clear the bases while she stood at third with her second triple of the contest.

After the third inning, East Juniata held the Indians offensively until the seventh, allowing them to make their crucial comeback for the lead.

From the third to the sixth, the Tigers chipped away at Juniata’s 6-4 lead, scoring one run in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning to give them a temporary lead.

Notes: Juniata started its day by finishing up a game with Upper Dauphin that had been suspended earlier in the season. The game was picked up in the fifth inning with the Trojans holding a 3-0 lead.

It took little time for Upper Dauphin to add to its lead, plating six runs in the top of the fifth, taking a 9-0 lead.

The Trojans added some insurance runs in the sixth, upping the lead to 14-0 before holding Juniata scoreless in the bottom of the inning, ending the game via the 10-run rule.

With the victory, Upper Dauphin clinched the Tri-Valley League title.