Close call

LEWISTOWN – The Mifflin County American Legion baseball team survived a late scare Wednesday evening, but held on to defeat Hollidaysburg 6-4 at Mifflin County High School.

The locals entered the seventh and final inning with a 6-2 advantage, but things quickly unraveled and it was only when relief pitcher Heath Hidlay induced a two-out, bases loaded flyout to right field that Mifflin County could mark this one down in the win column.

It took a while for Mifflin County to build such a sizable advantage. The home team found itself trailing in the top of the second when Hollidaysburg’s Jared Verba tripled to deep left off a pitch from Mifflin County starter Ross Torquato, scoring two runs and giving starting pitcher Dane Scallen an early cushion.

However, Mifflin County evened things up in the bottom of the third after a controversial call at first base extended the inning. Hidlay hit a grounder to shortstop and narrowly beat the throw to first, scoring teammate Kyle Bodtorf to get Mifflin County on the board. Hidlay then stole second and raced home on Hayden Snook’s RBI single to center field.

Scallen surrendered the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth. He issued a one-out walk to Cy Treaster, who stole second and advanced to third on Aaron Michaels’ groundout. Bodtorf then laced the first pitch he saw into left field to score Treaster and give his team a 3-2 lead.

The next inning saw Mifflin County take control for good. Hidlay chased Scallen with a one-out double down the left field line. Hollidaysburg reliever Austin McMonagle balked on his first pitch, sending Hidlay to third. Snook then came through in the clutch again with another RBI single. From there, Hunter Walker entered the game as a pinch runner for Snook and made his impact immediately by racing home when Hollidaysburg right fielder Josh Helsel misplayed Jacob Larson’s single and the ball rolled past him. Larson advanced to second on the play and later scored on a Treaster RBI single.

“It was a real good inning,” Mifflin County coach Larry Wolfe said. “We were aggressive on the basepaths, especially with Hunter Walker scoring from first base on that error.”

Mifflin County’s Jordan Wolfkill relieved Torquato after three and cruised through his first three innings, only allowing one baserunner.

The seventh inning turned out to be a different story. Despite suffering two early outs, Hollidaysburg did its best to make things interesting by loading the bases, which led to Wolfe replacing Wolfkill with Hidlay. Scallen then kept the game alive with an RBI single to left field. Marcello DeFay followed that with a walk that drove in another run. Hidlay finally got Brandon Gallagher to fly out to end it, avoiding a disastrous collapse.

“It was a little dicier than I wanted it to be at the end,” Wolfe said. “I was a little upset in the last inning, I thought up four runs we kind of cruised through a couple innings and kind of mailed in the game before it was over. It’s just one of the things with a young team, you have to be focused in every inning and every play.”

The victory marked the end of a three-game losing skid for Mifflin County, and Wolfe was pleased to be back in the win column.

“I was pleased with the effort tonight,” he said. “It’s the way wooden bat baseball is. We came into this one losing three straight, two of them were very competitive and we could’ve won, but a lot of the time the difference between winning and losing with wooden bats is pretty narrow. You have to just keep continuing to execute and keep doing the things you do well.”

The two teams meet again tomorrow at Hollidaysburg with a 6 p.m. start.