Post 287 doubles down on Altoona
LEWISTOWN – Any time you add more power, good things are bound to happen.
Not that Mifflin County pitcher John Michael Maclay needed much support.
The Post 287 offense scored 25 runs over two games Tuesday, a 14-2 win in five innings and an 11-0, six-inning win in the doubleheader night cap.
Maclay earned the win in both games, going the last three innings in the first game and throwing a complete game shutout in the second one.
“It was exciting, but I got a lot of help from my defense,” Maclay said. “It helped a lot having my brother (Issac) behind the plate. I don’t like to shake him off because he knows what I like and I know what he likes. We work well together.”
The recently-graduated Mifflin County Husky didn’t even play baseball the first three of high school and didn’t pitch at all during the scholastic season.
“He hasn’t pitched an inning since he was 15-years-old in Babe Ruth,” Mifflin County coach Bernie Howard said. “This is all on the pitching coach. This is all Coach (Nate) Saltzer. The most amazing stat is that he didn’t walk a batter tonight. That’s nine shutout innings without walking a batter.”
The Mifflin County pitcher gave up two hits over nine innings on the night and didn’t get behind a batter all night.
“It was very big (to stay ahead of batters),” Maclay said. “I kept them off-balance. They had to swing at the pitch that I wanted instead of me throwing the pitch that they wanted. It was big.”
Former Midd-West Mustang Shane Connahan has provided a powerful spark to the Mifflin County American Legion baseball and Tuesday night’s games were no different.
“He’s one of our major contributors,” Howard said. “It’s hard to single out any one guy. We go two deep at every position. There isn’t one player you have to worry about when they are out on the ball field. This is an incredible group of athletes.”
Connahan went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs out of the three-hole for Post 287.
Maclay’s perfect game was broken up in the fifth inning by Travis Baker on a lead-off single to center.
He threw 70 pitches, 57 of them for strikes and faced one over the minimum in the second game masterpiece.
Altoona later added a bloop single in the sixth, which was later doubled off on a lineout to second.
Maclay also contributed to the onslaught at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.
Issac Strohecker started off the second game with a lead-off walk and immediately stole second.
Hunter Walker bunted for a base hit and Connahan followed with a sacrifice fly to score the game’s first run and put Mifflin County up 1-0.
The Altoona starter worked his way out of an uglier first with a 6-4-3 doubleplay to keep the game at 1-0.
Post 287 added two second-inning runs on Maclay’s RBI single and Kyle Bodtorf’s sacrifice fly.
The third inning also started well for Mifflin County.
Strohecker led off third with a line single to left through the glove of the Altoona third-baseman.
Walker added an identical bunt hit to his in the first inning and put two men on with no outs.
Connahan then stepped up and delivered a two-run double to put Mifflin County up 5-0 before Drew Hannon added another one on a sac fly.
“I got a lot of help from the offense tonight,” Maclay said. “We scored 11 runs in six innings. Shane can hit the ball all over the place, so that definitely helps.”
Bodtorf added a run-scoring triple in the top half of the fourth to extend the lead.
After going silently in the fifth, Post 287 added three more in the top of the sixth to bring the mercy rule into play.
“At any level, that’s a pretty incredible performance,” Howard said. “(It was) just an overall great performance, not only by John Michael, but the whole team.”
The big blow in the sixth was a RBI-triple from Maclay, who later scored on an error.
Mifflin County added one more after that to settle the score at 11-0.
Heath Hidlay blasted a three-run homer in the second inning of the first game.
Maclay worked three innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win in the first game. He gave up just one hit and struck out six Altoona batters.
Mifflin County improves to 12-3 on the season and will be back in action today hosting Philipsburg, a change of venue from the original schedule.