Making a statement

ALTOONA – The Mifflin County Babe Ruth 13-year-old all stars withstood the brutal heat and used a superb all-around performance en route to a 10-4 victory over Levittown American in the opening game of the state tournament in Altoona.

Mifflin County, playing as the visitors, sprinted out to a 4-0 lead over the District 3 champions in the top of the first. It added two more in the third for a commanding 6-0 advantage and with Kyle Peachey cruising on the mound, the final outcome was never in question.

Derick Cross gave the Mifflin County supporters reason to cheer as quickly as possible, smacking a double off of Levittown starter Brett Foley on the game’s first pitch. Nick Hostettler ripped a double of his own a few pitches later that spotted the locals a 1-0 lead. Hostettler would end up scoring on an error before Drew Williams hit Mifflin County’s third double of the first inning. Cole Baker, who had walked, crossed the plate and was followed by Williams a couple pitches later after an error, and it was clear to those in attendance that this would be Mifflin County’s day.

“Our extra-base hits right off the bat really helped,” Mifflin County manager Bill Corbin said. “I’ve said all along I think our power is real good, we’re just not consistent at it. If we’d get a little more consistent with it, we could do some serious things.”

As it turned out, Peachey didn’t need his offense to explode for this one to go in the win column. The tall right-hander struck out five over four scoreless innings, and probably could have pitched deeper into the game if the temperature had not been in the 90s.

“Kyle did a real good job today,” Corbin said. “He struggled in a game in districts, but he’s on my regular season team (Belleville), and he did well today. Another thing we talked about was because of the heat today we knew we probably weren’t going to get full games out of anyone and we knew we’d have to piece games together.”

Carson King pitched a scoreless fifth but ran into serious trouble in the sixth, loading the bases with only one out. Joey Taptich took over to get out of the jam, but things got tense when Levittown crossed one run on a hit batter then got three more on an error in the field, creating a potentially disastrous inning for Mifflin County. However, Taptich was able to avoid further damage by retiring the next two batters via flyouts.

Taptich then tossed a perfect seventh, giving Mifflin County some momentum as it heads into its second game of pool play.

“I knew Joey was gonna come in and throw strikes, and at that point when you have a big lead that’s what you want,” Corbin said. “You want someone there that’s going to throw strikes and make them hit the ball.”

Mifflin County pushed across three runs in the sixth for a 9-0 lead thanks to a Peachey two-run single and an RBI double from Aaron Kanagy, who finished the game with two hits. Peachey and Cross also finished with multiple hits for Mifflin County.

The win was an important one for Corbin and the locals as it gets them off on the right foot in a tournament with several perennially tough teams standing in their way.

“We just have to play it a game at a time,” Corbin remarked. “Every game is a new day, and you just gotta play it that way. We have one of the toughest draws in the bracket, we knew that. We knew going in that we have to come play our best game or we could be in trouble. It’s nice to get off to a good start, and we’ll be back at it tomorrow.”

Mifflin County faces off against West End of Williamsport today at 2 p.m. in Altoona.