Missed chances haunt MC in 2-1 playoff loss

LEWISTOWN – Missed opportunities were the theme of the Mifflin County American Legion baseball team’s Central Penn League Tournament consolation round matchup Monday evening against visiting Beech Creek.

The locals stranded nine runners on base, six of which were in scoring position, over the course of the game’s seven innings en route to dropping the elimination game 2-1 at Mifflin County High School.

Beech Creek struggled to make solid contact against Mifflin County starter Ross Torquato all game with the exception of the fifth inning, in which the visitors pushed across the only two runs they would score.

Chuck Probst reached on an error with one out and advanced to third on Cole Hanley’s double. Trapper Kunes then plated the first run of the game with a single, and Kyle McGregor followed with a sacrifice fly to put Beech Creek up 2-0.

Mifflin County struck back in the bottom of the sixth on a Cy Treaster RBI double down the left-field line that scored Lucas McKay. Drew Hannon advanced to third on the play, but the rally was put to rest when Jacob Larson ripped a one-hop grounder to third baseman Kunes that got Hannon caught in a rundown that ended when catcher Ethan McGill tagged him out at home plate.

Mifflin County couldn’t rally in the seventh against reliever Probst as the top of the lineup was set down in order.

“We had opportunities and we didn’t cash in,” Mifflin County manager Larry Wolfe said. “They made a couple plays. Their third baseman (Kunes) made a whale of a play on the ball Larson hit with two guys on.”

Mifflin County’s Aaron Michaels hit into a bit of bad luck in the bottom of the second. With two outs and the bases loaded, Michaels squared up a fastball and hit a laser, but it was unfortunately hit right at left fielder Drew Nyman, who snatched it to end the threat.

Scoring opportunities presented themselves for Mifflin County in the fourth and the fifth as it put runners on the corners in both innings, but Treaster grounded into a double play to end the fourth and Heath Hidlay struck out for the final out of the fifth.

“Baseball’s a game where you have to get a break every now and then and we just didn’t get any of them tonight,” Wolfe said. “Sometimes you just square up a ball really nicely and it’s just an out. Other than that, we just needed to put the ball in play on the ground a few times and we didn’t.”

Beech Creek’s defense also took away several would be Mifflin County hits in the team’s previous matchup earlier in the season.

“That’s a pretty good ball club,” Wolfe said. “They cover a lot of ground in the outfield, and it’s tough to get hits against them.”

The outcome spoiled a solid complete-game outing from Torquato, who gave up nine hits and only walked one batter.

Hanley earned the win on the mound for Beech Creek, only surrendering one run in 5 1/3 innings and striking out three.

Mifflin County will next compete in the Region 7 tournament, which begins later this week.