LEWISTOWN – When Mifflin County starting pitcher Ross Torquato had to exit a 1-0 game after only 2/3 of an inning due to back soreness, manager Bernie Howard turned to Isaac Strohecker to keep his team in the game. Strohecker delivered, limiting visiting DuBois to one more run in 6 1/3 innings of work. The only problem for Mifflin County, however, was that DuBois starter Devon Walker was just a bit better. The DuBois High School standout tossed a complete game three-hitter, blanking Mifflin County 2-0 Tuesday night at Rec Park in Lewistown.
“That was an outstanding baseball game with two very good ball clubs,” Mifflin County manager Bernie Howard said. “We knew coming in that they would be probably as good as anyone else we’re going to see this year.”
Torquato got himself into trouble immediately, issuing a free pass to leadoff man Darren McKee to get the contest started. The speedy McKee then easily stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Walker flew out to right but Clayton Read gave his pitcher the only run he would need when he slapped a single that brought McKee in to score. Torquato retired Jake Felix but then walked John Mohney and hit Braden Paulinellie before handing the ball over to Strohecker, who induced a Ryan Anderson flyout to end the inning.
Defense would end up dominating the remainder of the contest as Walker and Strohecker both went into cruise control on the mound. Walker was particularly sharp, only facing 24 batters, three over the minimum, in his seven innings of work.
“Walker went 9-1 at DuBois High School this year, so he can really deliver it,” Howard said. “He definitely controlled the tempo of the game.”
Mifflin County’s only great chance to score came in the third when Walker issued a walk, the only free pass he issued all day, to Tyler Powell. Max Remy then lined a two-out double into the right-center field gap, but an outstanding relay throw from second baseman Anderson arrived just before Powell reached home plate.
“There was excellent fielding by both teams,” Howard remarked. “The defense tonight on both sides was absolutely flawless, and that really makes a difference. They needed a great relay to cut down a run that would’ve tied the game. We do everything we can to try and stretch the defense, and it didn’t work out too well tonight.”
DuBois tacked on an insurance run in the fifth when Mohney singled home Read, but that would be the only hiccup in an outstanding 6 1/3 innings from Strohecker.
“I can’t say enough about Isaac Strohecker,” Howard said. “That was a gutsy performance, only allowing one run on a couple of bloop hits.”
Mifflin County showed signs of life in the bottom of the seventh when Strohecker reached on a one-out single, but Shane Connahan popped out and Lucas McKay flew out to deep right to end it.
The loss is the second in two days for Mifflin County and drops it to 7-2 (6-2 Central Penn League), but Howard sees no reason for Post 287 to hang their heads.
“That’s two nights in a row that we’ve had outstanding pitching performances from our guys, and that’s something we’ve been looking for,” Howard said.
Mifflin County knew heading into Tuesday night that DuBois would be one of the toughest games on the schedule, and the visitors didn’t disappoint.
“Anyone who was here tonight had to enjoy it,” Howard said. “This was quality baseball. I think you’ll see a lot more of the two of us down the road.”
After playing five games the past four days, Mifflin County will get today off before taking part in a tournament in Elkins, West Virginia on Thursday.