Big third inning lifts MC over clearfield

LEWISTOWN – It took only one inning to become clear that Mifflin County’s plan for Tuesday’s American Legion baseball game against Clearfield was not going to pan out.

Working off a long tournament weekend and with hopes to keep his pitchers fresh for the upcoming Central Penn League playoffs, manager Larry Wolfe planned to work his pitchers in for two innings apiece. However, after Clearfield had a 3-2 lead and jumped on starting pitcher Heath Hidlay for a leadoff single in the top of the second, Wolfe had to revise his plan and pull Hidlay early.

As it turned out, Mifflin County still built a nice game despite ditching the blueprint early.

With solid work from relievers Blayz Shartzer and Ross Torquato plus a big offensive inning in the third, Mifflin County took the 8-5 victory in the team’s final regular-season game. Wolfe said the win also would likely qualify the team for the regional tournament.

With the score at 4-2 in Clearfield’s favor heading into the bottom of the third, Kyle Bodtorf and Isaac Strohecker got things started with back-to-back triples for the 4-3 score. Strohecker then reached home on a wild pitch, and singles from Lucas McKay and Hayden Snook kept the ball rolling until Cy Treaster came through with an RBI double to bring McKay home for the 5-4 lead.

“That made coaching pretty easy at that point,” Wolfe said of the back-to-back triples. “I can score the guy from third without much trouble.”

After Treaster’s go-ahead double, Clearfield starting pitcher Rony Ogdin was pulled for lefty Thomas Summers, who held Mifflin County to three runs on three hits for the remainder of the game.

“I thought we were going to get to their starter sooner or later, it was only a matter of time. Then after that their left-hander came in and we were just scratching around trying to get runs after that,” Wolfe said.

Mifflin County scored its next run in the fifth when McKay, who went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, scored on a balk by Summers. Then in the sixth, Mifflin County tacked on its final two runs off an error at shortstop and an RBI double from McKay.

The balk that scored McKay was one of two plays that were highly contested. Although Clearfield argued that Summers stepped off the rubber before making the move toward a potential pickoff of McKay at third, the umpire called the balk. This was the second of two plays that Clearfield argued; in the bottom of the first Hidlay ripped one down the third base line to bring in Mifflin County’s first run – a hit Clearfield claimed was foul.

Mifflin County’s second run of the inning was scored on a sacrifice fly to center from McKay before Snook flew out to left for the second out of the inning and Hidlay was picked off at third after it was determined he didn’t tag up on the play.

Outside that play and a few other running errors, Mifflin County was tough on offense with its 10 total hits.

“I’ve always thought in wooden bat baseball, if you score five or six runs you ought to win the ball game, and we had enough hits to do that,” Wolfe said.

The locals also relied on Shartzer and Torquato from the mound, as both worked out of jams with runners in scoring position to help Mifflin County win.

Mifflin County (16-6, 13-3) is the No. 1 seed in the Central Penn League playoffs, and will therefore host a yet-to-be-determined team Friday.