Huskies engineer turnaround
LEWISTOWN – John Michael Maclay hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to break open a 3-3 tie, lifting Mifflin County to a 5-3 win over Central Dauphin East on Tuesday at Mifflin County High School in the team’s home-opener.
“I just looked for a fastball and if I got it in the zone, I was going to try to put it in the outfield and drive in a run,” Maclay said. “It worked out for us.”
The Huskies finally got to Central Dauphin East starter Steven McInturf in the bottom of the sixth, plating four runs in the inning with Gage Reesman’s RBI single capping the rally that put Mifflin County up by two runs in the Commonwealth Division game.
Ross Torquato picked up the win in relief after recording the final out of the top half of the sixth and, thanks to Maclay, escaping a base-loaded, one-out situation in the seventh.
Maclay, the Huskies’ catcher, dove to block a breaking ball that bounced, keeping the runners where they were.
“Coach tells us all the time about bodying up,” Maclay said. “I knew I had to get myself in front of it no matter the cost was. I just slid over and got in front of it.”
Peyton Reesman, who started the game and did not factor in the decision for the Huskies, went five innings, striking out 12 Panther batters.
“I think all his pitches were working for him,” Mifflin County manager Travis Zook said. “He was commanding his fastball well. He had a little trouble in the first but after that, the fastball was working great. His change-up, he mixed in sparingly, but it was real effective and his curveball was great too. He kept those guys off-balance.”
Mifflin County got off to a rocky start. Reesman struck out the first batter of the game then issued a walk and hit the next batter to put runners on first and second with one out.
Quinton Heckard singled for the Panthers to bring home Erik Leota and the game’s first run and stake his team to an early 1-0 lead.
Reesman came back to strike out the next two Central Dauphin East batters and strand the two runners on base.
Reesman’s string of five straight outs recorded via the strikeout ended in the bottom of the second when Christian Fulp popped out to second to end the inning.
The only base runner for either team in the second was Mifflin County’s Kyle Bodtorf, who was immediately erased on a double-play ball.
Reesman pitched around two Husky errors in the top of the third when he got Panthers’ first baseman Justin Cherry swinging to end the inning.
The big Huskies lefty ran into some trouble in the top of the fourth.
The Panthers’ Brandon Ross reached on a one-out single and advanced to second on a passed ball.
Ross advanced again to third on a wild pitch and scored on a two-strike wild pitch with Christian Fulp at the plate.
Reesman struck out Fulp on the very next pitch, but the damage was done and Central Dauphin East took a 2-0 lead into the home half of the fourth.
The Huskies starter struck out two more visiting batters in the top of the fifth before inducing a groundout to end the frame and his day.
“He mixes his pitches really well,” Maclay said. “He gives a little different arm angle every once in a while. He’s got a little different stuff and he utilized it all very well today.”
Mifflin County got one back in the bottom of the fifth when Maclay split the left-center field gap and later scored on Gage Reesman’s RBI single.
The Panthers got that run right back though when Lucas McKay hit a batter and walked three, including Fulp’s bases-loaded walk to make it 3-1 Panthers.
After McInturf walked Isaiah Kearns, McKay sent a double off the fence and knocked in Kearns to make it 3-2.
The next hitter, third baseman Drew Hannon, sent an RBI single up the middle to quickly knot the game at 3-3 before McInturf could record an out in the sixth.
“He had a deceiving change-up that was a little difficult to pick up,” Zook said. “The first three or four innings were a little out front and (hitting) stuff off the end of the bat. We talked to them after the fourth inning. We just got a little momentum here and got a break and some guys started hitting the ball and it opened things up for us.”
Heath Hidlay reached on a throwing error and Kyle Bodtorf was hit by a pitch to set up Maclay’s bases-loaded sac fly.
Reesman came up and knocked Hidlay in with a single up the middle before a pop-out to second ended the inning.
Torquato allowed a single to start the top of the seventh then struck out McInturf.
He then walked Heckard and Cherry to load the bases before escaping with a strikeout and fly out to center, which Bodtorf secured to end the game.
“It was a great team effort at the end coming back (with) a lot of guys chipping in. We’re happy to come away with the win,” Zook said.
The Huskies (2-0, 2-0) will be back at it Friday when they travel to Chambersburg.