Eagles finish strong, overcome deficit

LEWISTOWN – It was a baseball game of could have beens for the boys wearing silver and purple on Thursday as Mifflin County suffered a 9-7 loss to Commonwealth Division opponent Cumberland Valley.

Although the Huskies reduced their error rate after Wednesday’s seven against Central Mountain, mental mistakes both in the field and on the base paths played a role in Thursday’s outcome.

However, while the players certainly were a part of the loss, the men wearing blue also left fans and coaches alike wondering what could have been.

On a controversial obstruction call in the seventh against Mifflin County catcher John Michael Maclay, Cumberland Valley’s Jake Legore reached first on what otherwise would have been the first out of the inning after teammate Kole Aumiller hit a three-run homer to tie the game with Mifflin County, 6-6.

The Huskies then retired the next two batters, but were stung when in the next at bat Mitchell Lacey jacked one out of the park to put Cumberland Valley up, 8-6.

The Eagles got one more across before the inning was over. Mifflin County answered with one more of its own in the bottom of the seventh, but ultimately the difference in the game was when Legore reached first, later to be scored on Lacey’s homer.

“What they called was obstruction,” Mifflin County coach Travis Zook explained. “The fact that the ball was in the dirt and John Michael went down with his glove, tug the guy and then realized he didn’t have the ball in his glove” was what led to the call.

During the game Zook contested the call – which came about only after Cumberland Valley coach Levi Mumma asked for it – but to no avail.

“He didn’t obstruct him from getting to first base – the guy was in the base line already,” Zook said. “He didn’t move him out of the base line, or push him or make him go around him in any way, so I don’t understand how if he’s not obstructing his move to first base how it’s obstruction.”

Prior to the controversial seventh inning, the Huskies took a quick lead in the first when back-to-back homers by Maclay and Isaiah Kearns put the score at 2-1.

From there, a leadoff walk by Jacob Larson resulted in a run in the second when Hunter Walker brought him home with a single to center, an error in the third resulted in another Mifflin County run. The Huskies took the big 6-1 lead in the fourth when they strung together three hits – including an RBI double by Kearns – for two runs.

However, despite Mifflin County’s consistent hitting, the crux of the game was defense. The Eagles stranded eight runners in the second through fifth innings, and it was plays such as Max Remy’s rocket from left to home to throw out Austin Busch and end the top of the fourth, or a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth to end Cumberland Valley’s two-run effort, that kept the Huskies in the lead.

Yet, many of the jams the Huskies got out of were of their own making.

In the first and second innings, the Huskies allowed three different infield pop ups to drop (one of them was in foul territory). The Huskies also had dropped balls in the outfield in the fifth and seventh, the later of which spelled trouble when the runner later scored on Aumiller’s three-run homer.

“We’re putting ourselves in positions, but we just need to get that much better. Whether it’s mental or physical, we need to persevere and overcome,” Zook said.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Huskies were fighting to come back – and did manage to get one across when three straight singles brought Remy home – but when Kyle Bodtorf lifted what should have been a sacrific fly to center, miscues on the base paths resulted in Carter Spade getting thrown out at home for the final out of the game.

On the mound, Mifflin County starter Heath Hidlay struck out five and allowed seven free passes through five-plus innings. He allowed both runners on in the sixth who later scored against Doug Harshbarger. The Eagles then did most of their damage against relief pitcher Lucas McKay, who was on the mound when all six of the Eagles’ seventh-inning runs crossed.

The Huskies roughed up Cumberland Valley ace Mike Adams for six runs on seven hits, while they got one run on three hits against Alec Johnston in the seventh. In the fifth and sixth, south paw Adam Howard held Mifflin County to no runs on one hit.

With the loss, the Huskies drop to 5-5 overall and 5-4 in the league. They will be back in action Monday, when they travel to Central Dauphin East.