Miscues costly during weekend sweep

MIFFLINTOWN – Sunday afternoon turned out to be quite productive for the Selinsgrove American Legion baseball team. It took to Dreibelbis Field in Mifflintown and picked up two wins over Juniata County in roughly two hours – the first win, a 6-5 triumph, coming as an extra-innings resumption of the teams’ June 11 matchup in Selinsgrove which was tied after 7 innings and called due to darkness – and the second as a 7-3 victory that saw the visitors pull away late in the ballgame. The losses capped off a tough weekend for Juniata County as Post 298 dropped both games of a Saturday home doubleheader against Berwick by scores of 9-8 and 12-1.

Colton Brouse was the hero in the first game, which picked up in the top of the 8th with a score of 5-5. He lined a bases-loaded single to left field off of Korey Martin to win it for the Snyder County squad, which got the final at-bat because the game was originally played in Selinsgrove. After Juniata went quietly in the top half of the inning, Selinsgrove headed to the bottom half determined to end it and get the regularly scheduled game started. It didn’t have to wait very long. Jake Nylund led things off with a double to left center, and advanced when the next two batters walked, setting the stage for Brouse’s walkoff hit.

“We’re close, we just had a couple miscues here and there and we just can’t seem to get the timely hits that we need,” Juniata manager Mark Mingle said. “We’re gaining on it, we’re still a young team.”

Selinsgrove couldn’t sustain its momentum from the walkoff win in the beginning of the second game. In fact, it was Juniata who jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead despite coming up empty in the hit column. Chantz Swartz drew a one-out walk and stole second and scored when Selinsgrove botched a routine throw to first on a Chas Maguire grounder and the ball went out of play. Maguire would then score when Blaise Roush grounded out to shortstop.

The visitors mustered a response in the second when a routine infield pop-up was lost in the sun by the Juniata infielders, putting starting pitcher Swartz in a two-out, bases-loaded jam. Austin Benner followed by breaking the game wide open with a shot to the left-center field gap that scored three runs and left Benner on second with a stand-up double.

“With this kind of ball, you have to play a little better defense than the other team or you’re gonna get hurt out there,” Mingle remarked.

Selinsgrove starter Zach Hendricks took a no-hitter into the bottom of the fifth, but lost it with two outs when Swartz singled to center. Pinch-hitter Adrian Martin then knotted the score with an RBI double.

Selinsgrove took the lead for good in the sixth when Swartz walked Benner with the bases loaded to force a run home, but Maguire subsequently took the mound and escaped the jam with no further damage. The run was the only earned run Selinsgrove scored off of Swartz. He was done for the day after going 5 1/3 innings with five walks and a strikeout.

“Chantz did a super job for me today,” Mingle said. “He threw really well. He seemed pretty solid out there.”

Selinsgrove tacked on three insurance runs in the seventh on a Maguire balk, an error, and an RBI single from Aaron Zechman that put the game out of reach.

Hendricks picked up the win on the mound after a solid five-inning outing in which he surrendered only three runs, one of which was earned. Tyler Showers pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings to earn the save.

Juniata will be back in action Tuesday with a doubleheader at Sunbury/Norry.