14 team falls; is co-champ

MILROY – Perry County scored early and often Friday night, taking advantage of a flurry of Mifflin County defensive lapses in a 14-1, five-inning rout of the local team in a Babe Ruth 14 year-old all-star District 7 tournament contest at Armagh Memorial Field in Milroy.

The game ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule.

The outcome results in Mifflin County and Perry County sharing the district title – it was decided not to play a third game in the series because both teams wanted to avoid the extention of the District 7 tournament since the teams are each guaranteed a spot in the state tournament regardless of the outcome of a third game.

Mifflin County entered the contest leading 1-0 in the series and needing a victory to secure the district title. Perry County would make sure no such thing would happen on this night.

The visitors immediately took advantage of Mifflin County starting pitcher Drew Williams’ control issues, loading the bases with one out in the top of the first. Darin Zeiders crossed home plate on a Williams wild pitch, and two more runs scored when catcher Aaron Kanagy’s attempt to throw out a steal attempt at third base by Brady Herr sailed into left field.

Perry County tacked on three more in the second, an inning highlighted by a Joey Wright RBI single and a sacrifice fly from Zeiders that made it a 6-0 game.

Cody Smith, Perry County’s starter, was in cruise control. He went 3 1/3 innings and his only blemish, if you can call it that, was a third-inning unearned run scored by Chris Elliott that was aided by two Perry County errors. Smith benefited from some smooth defense behind him, which was most evident in the second inning when shortstop Vinnie Keys snagged a screaming line drive and immediately threw to second to double-up the runner and end the inning.

The visitors delivered the knockout blow in the fourth, a six-run inning that was downright catastrophic for Mifflin County and its title hopes. The locals committed three errors and reliever Marcus Donahey walked four batters, a combination that will quickly turn any contest into a lopsided one. The six runs crossed the plate with the help of just two Perry County base hits in the frame.

“Walks, errors, they killed us,” Mifflin County manager Mike Hostetler said. “We threw the ball around way too much tonight. We didn’t do that in any of our scrimmages. I don’t know what happened. Hopefully next game we’ll have some more timely hits and better defense.”

Mifflin County pitchers walked a total of nine batters and the defense committed a whopping seven errors – uncharacteristic mistakes for a team mostly comprising players who were part of the 13 year-old team that went to the state finals last summer.

Perry County only needed eight hits to help push across its 16 runs.

The win was Perry County’s first against Mifflin County since the 2004 14-year-old tournament.

Both teams advance to the state tournament, which begins July 16 in Milroy. The locals’ first game will be against defending state champion West End.