Maclay’s homer silences Herd

LEWISTOWN – John Michael Maclay’s towering two-run home run capped a fourth-inning offensive explosion that lifted Mifflin County to its third straight victory, a 7-1 win over Carlisle on Monday at Mifflin County High School.

Heath Hidlay pitched an efficient complete-game four-hitter and got a perfect effort in the field behind him to earn his third win of the season.

“It was very important that he was able to keep his pitch count down,” Mifflin County coach Travis Zook said. “The defense did a really nice job behind him and didn’t give them any extra outs. We need him coming back later in the week, so we needed to keep his pitch count down so he can come back with minimum strain on his arm.”

Mifflin County made Carlisle pay for a lead-off walk to start the bottom of the first inning. Carlisle starter Isiah Lippert walked Kyle Bodtorf and he advanced to second on a passed ball.

Maclay and Isaiah Kearns made back-to-back outs on two hard hit balls to center and left field.

Heath Hidlay helped himself out and legged out a grounder deep in the hole for an infield single to score Bodtorf and give himself an early 1-0 lead.

After being shut down by Lippert when they faced him at Carlisle, the Huskies were able to scratch the first-inning run across.

Hidlay came back out to the mound and gained even more momentum for himself and his club. The senior right-hander hit his counterpart Lippert with the pitch and he reluctantly took the base.

The pitcher stole second base and advanced to third on a grounder to second-base with one out.

Hidlay struck out Billy Burger and got Jack Davenport on a pop-out to first base to end the inning and strand Lippert on third.

The Huskies got their first two runners on base to start the bottom third, but couldn’t cash in with the heart of the line-up at the plate. Kearns flied out to left, Hidlay struck out looking and Max Remy grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.

The Thundering Herd came back in their half of the fourth with three straight hits to start the inning.

Colton Brem and Lippert singled to put runners on first and third with no out. Kyler Showers singled to left to score Brem and get Carlisle on the board, tying the game at 1-1 with no outs. Billy Burger sacrificed the runners to second and third and Davenport grounded out to short.

Hidlay got Tre Coleman swinging to get out of the inning and keep the game tied.

“Obviously, I’ll credit that to my fielders,” Hidlay said. “I wasn’t striking too many people out today. I was kind of letting them hit the ball. They were hitting it pretty soft and they were hitting it right to my infielders. They were getting the job done. That’s what got me out of that inning.”

That’s when the Huskies broke through against the left-handed starter.

Isaac Strohecker led off the bottom of the fourth with a booming triple to left-centerfield ahead of Drew Hannon’s walk.

Gage Reesman lined an RBI-single to center to score Strohecker and put Mifflin County up 2-1.

Hunter Walker dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt to move the runners up a base.

Bodtorf launched a sacrifice fly to right field and the throw up the line was too late to get Hannon.

Maclay followed with his two-run homer to left-center to finish off the four-run fourth and give the Huskies a 5-1 lead that they would never relinquish.

“I think (Lippert) got a little frustrated,” Zook said. “(Today) he had a little bit of control issues here and there. He walked our leadoff hitter in the first inning. When we played them down there, he was just lights out. He was working the corners and not missing. He missed a little today.

“In the pregame we talked about how aggressive we need to be at the plate in making sure we are putting good swings (on the ball) when we get good opportunities,” Zook said. “The guys did that today and really hit him well. It’s just making the adjustments. The second time you see him is a lot easier because you know what he’s got. He’s a great pitcher though.”

Hidlay faced no more than four batters in any of the last three innings and his teammates added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-1.

Mifflin County (8-5, 8-4 Mid-Penn) will continue its daunting five-game week today when the Huskies step out of conference and head to Williamsport.

“We’re on a three-game win streak and that’s the first time this year,” Hidlay said. “We’re going to have to take it one (game) at a time and play our best each day.”