Huskies scratched by Wildcats, 4-2

LEWISTOWN – Mifflin County had no trouble hitting Central Mountain starter Caleb Seyler. The problem for the Huskies was the timing of those seven hits, as they produced only two runs and fell 4-2 to Central Mountain in the semifinals of the District 6 Class AAAA playoffs on Thursday at Mifflin County High School.

For the second straight time, Seyler didn’t walk or hit any Mifflin County batters, so if the Huskies were going to score on the Central Mountain junior starter, they were going to have to earn it.

“We didn’t make the adjustments that we needed to make,” said Mifflin County coach Travis Zook. “His pitch count was getting up and he was mixing his off-speed stuff more after the third inning. He’s got a good curveball and it’s got late break on it. The kids were having trouble picking it up out of the hand.”

Mifflin County starting pitcher Isaiah Kearns got through the top of the first with just a harmless single and allowed his offense to go to work.

In the bottom of the first, John Michael Maclay lined a one-out single to center and stole second to get in scoring position. Seyler got his counterpart, Kearns, swinging before Heath Hidlay delivered an RBI single to spot the Huskies a quick 1-0 lead.

Central Mountain got that run right back in the top half of the second with some two-out thunder. Seyler helped himself out with the two-out double and Ethan McGill knocked Seyler’s courtesy runner in to even the game.

After the last game between the two schools where Mifflin County made a season-high seven errors, Central Mountain returned the favor.

Maclay lined a one-out single to left and the Central Mountain shortstop Cayden Stover tried to throw behind Maclay at first and the ball went out of play.

Maclay took second base and was awarded third base on the error.

Isaiah Kearns and Heath Hidlay reached on back-to-back errors and Maclay scored on the second of which was a pop-up dropped by left fielder Toner Corl, who previously made two incredible diving catches.

“We know that we have to take advantage of those whenever they are making errors,” Zook said.

Hidlay came to the mound in relief for Kearns to start the fourth and sat down Central Mountain in order on eight pitches.

Mifflin County got a leadoff double due to some great hustle from Isaac Strohecker, but he couldn’t get to third until there were two outs. Seyler got a groundout to shortstop to end the inning and keep it at 2-2.

“There were a couple of turning points,” Zook said. “We had Strohecker, the leadoff batter, on second. I debated sacrifice bunting with Hayden Snook up at the plate to try to get him over. We ended up stranding him out there. It was just a couple of small things where we got some guys in scoring position and we weren’t able to come through with hits when we needed to.”

Hidlay issued a two-out walk in the top half of the fifth to Corl and he scored on the ensuing RBI double from Stover.

Zach Skrtich followed with an RBI single to give the Wildcats a 4-2 advantage.

Maclay started the bottom half of the inning with another single off Seyler, his third of the day. The Huskies’ catcher was later picked off and Seyler, who got the next batters swinging to end the inning and preserve the 4-2 advantage.

Mifflin County (11-10) went down in order in the sixth and seventh to end the game and the season.

“I think we’ve had a great run,” Zook said. “Central Mountain has kind of been a thorn in our sides. This is three years in a row that we’ve lost to them in the semifinals and all three of them have been here. They’ve always been close ball games and they’ve found a way to get an edge on us these three years. We’ve got some really good talent coming back that we’re excited about.”

The Huskies say goodbye to 13 seniors, including Maclay and Hidlay, but will return very talented starting pitchers in Kearns and lefty Peyton Reesman.

“I just told them that I appreciated them,” Zook said. “A lot of them have been here for four years working all the way up from the first year at Mifflin County. They’ve been busting their butts for the program and for me and they’ve done all that we’ve asked them.”