Altoona threatens MC stars

MILROY – As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.”

As the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League enters its 59th season of All-Star play today with the District 7 13-year-old tournament there may be more at stake then meets the eye.

For years, Mifflin County has been riding some impressive streaks.

Mifflin County has won 34 District 7 titles in a row, a state record. The last time Mifflin County lost a district championship was in 2001 in the 14-year-old bracket in Gettysburg. Since then no one has taken a title away from Mifflin County.

Mifflin County has not had a losing season in All-Star competiton since Lyndon Johnson was in the White House in 1967. That was nine presidents ago, counting Johnson. The last losing record Mifflin County had was when it had one All-Star team (13-15-year-olds) and it was single elimination. In 1967, Mifflin County was 0-1. Mifflin County did have two .500 seasons in 1970 and 1971. In those 45 years of non-losing seasons, Mifflin County has racked up a 583-242 record.

Since 1968, when District 7 became a district of at least two leagues, Mifflin County has sent teams to the state playoffs every year except in 1984 and 1998. From 1968 to 1983, that streak was 16 years. The next one from 1985 to 1997 was 13 years and the current one from 1999 to 2012 is 14 seasons.

Mifflin County streaks at each age level for winning district titles are 13 for the 15-year-olds; 12 for the 13-year-olds and 11 for the 14-year-olds. And the 13-year-olds have made the finals 20 years in a row from 1993-2012 and need one more title game to tie the district record -21 – which is held by Mifflin County from 1969-1991.

So why be concerned about 2013?

Because the Altoona Babe Ruth League is now a member of District 7. And Altoona isn’t just a league made up of players from the Altoona metro area. The Altoona league covers Blair, Bedford and Cambria counties, a total population of nearly 325,000 people.

And if that isn’t enough of an advantage, there is one more item: Babe Ruth International in Trenton, N.J., gave Altoona the right to have 11 teams for the 2013 season, one more than rules normally allow, which means the league had an extra club from which to draw its all stars.

Mifflin County has a lifetime 1-2 record against Altoona and that is who the Mifflin County 13-year-old All-Stars will face at 7 p.m today at Armagh Memorial Field.

In the other 13-year-old game, Perry County will take on Gettysburg at 3 p.m.

The 13-year-olds have the best chance of advancing to a state tournament as Altoona is the host of the state tournament and the winner of the district or the runner-up to Altoona, if it wins the title, will represent District 7 in Altoona.

It was no surprise when Reedsville had five players named to the 13-year-old team as it was the youngest team in the league. Making it from Reedsville were Aaron Kanagy, Carson King, Brock Sinkus, Aaron Wagner and Davis Wagner.

Only two other teams in the league had more than two players chosen: Lewistown’s Thomas Remy and Marcus Donahey and Belleville’s Joe Taptich and Kyle Peachey.

Having one player each on the team were McVeytown, Derick Cross; Beaver Springs, Chris Elliott; Burnham, Cole Baker; Strodes Mills, Drew Williams; Belltown, Nick Hostetler; and Milroy, Collin Stuck.

Manager of the team will be Belleville’s Bill Corbin. He is being assisted by Scott Fultz of Strodes Mills and Fred Zook of Yeagertown.

Corbin, who is in his 31st year, has an all-star record of 79-27 and overall record of 589-317.

As an all-star manager, Corbin has won four state titles, all with the 13-year-olds: 1987, 1990, 2003 and 2007. He also has won 10 district titles and eight of his teams have finished in the state finals.

“Every year is different,” Corbin said. “We only have had a week to get ready, so I’m not sure what we have. I know our strength will be speed and power. These storms the past few days have played havoc with us getting on the field.

“The main concern as in every all-star team and every baseball team is pitching and defense,” Corbin noted. “For us to be successful, we have to throw strikes and field the ball.”

The tournament, which is double elimination, will continue all week at Armagh Memorial Field with the title game set for July 3 and the “if-neccessary” game on July 4, weather permitting.

Notes: With this year’s five all stars, Reedsville has produced the most 13-year-old all stars since the league added the age group in 1969 – 123 players from Reedsville have been named to 13-year-old squads. Second is Belleville with 96 and third is Milroy with 91. Mifflin County has a 37-5 record in opening-round District 7 games for 13-year-olds. The last time Mifflin County lost an opening game in the District 7 13-year-old tournament was in 1999 as it fell to Perry-Juniata, 10-9, in Gettysburg.