MC beats Philipsburg, remains perfect

LEWISTOWN – The Mifflin County American Legion baseball team withstood a late-innings comeback by the Philipsburg Phils on Sunday afternoon, coming out on top 10-7. The win capped off a perfect 3-0 weekend for Post No. 287 as it swept a doubleheader in State College on Saturday, as well.

Sunday’s workman-like victory started as well as the locals could have hoped. Buoyed by six strikeouts from starting pitcher Ty Bodtorf during the first three innings, the Mifflin County offense struck early and often, taking a commanding 6-0 lead into the fourth. The early attack was led by Isaac Maclay and Lucas McKay, who both recorded timely two-run singles. Shane Connahan also added an RBI single of his own.

It seemed as if the 10-run rule could possibly come into play in the contest as Philipsburg had no answer for Bodtorf’s fastball as the right-hander racked up strikeout after strikeout before eventually fading and giving way to reliever Andrew Larson in the fifth inning.

“It was an excellent outing from Ty,” Mifflin County manager Bernie Howard said. “I thought he had real good control. He seemed to overpower many of their hitters early on. We were hoping to get through the fifth with him, but he got a little tired and we got him out of there. For his first start of the year, that was an excellent job. He certainly has a bright future.”

Larson surrendered two quick runs upon entering the game in the fifth on a single and a sacrifice fly and needed one more out to strand the remaining two runners and keep Mifflin County comfortably on top. Philipsburg clean-up hitter Chipper Harlow had other ideas, launching a home run over the left-center field fence to cut the lead to 6-5 and eliminate the possibility of a blowout.

Mifflin County proved not to be fazed at all by the blast that nearly tied the game. It loaded the bases with just one out in the bottom of the fifth, triggering a Philipsburg pitching change that saw Matt Hample take the mound. Maclay greeted him with his second RBI single of the game. Jacob Larson then delivered a crushing blow to the visitors, roping a bases-clearing line drive into the left field corner, plating three and giving him four RBIs on the afternoon.

“Jacob’s double was huge,” Howard said. “We’ve been getting nice, timely hitting from a lot of guys.”

Tyler Powell struck out to end the inning, but the damage was done. Larson allowed a run in the sixth and Isaac Strohecker let one cross the plate in the seventh, but the lead was never seriously threatened again.

“It’s like I told the guys, sometimes you go into cruise control with what seemed like a safe lead there,” Howard said. “Adversity strikes every once in awhile and you gotta look it right in the eye and not flinch, and they did a good job of that today.”

Howard was especially impressed with his pitching staff, which was thin due to the doubleheader on Saturday.

“We got excellent innings out of Ty and Andrew as well before we turned it over to Isaac in the seventh, who came through very nicely,” Howard said.

He also spoke highly of the resolve his team showed when the going got tough.

“We didn’t collapse, and that’s an important thing,” he said. “They made a nice comeback, brought it down to a run, yet we played very well defensively and got the win.”

The win brings Mifflin County’s record to 7-0 (6-0 Central Penn League).