MILROY – It was a roller coaster ride last year for the Mifflin County Babe Ruth 13-year-old All-Stars.
Mifflin County, under the direction of Belleville’s Bill Corbin, went 2-2 in the District 7 tournament, losing to Altoona in the district finals.
It marked the first time since 2001 that a Mifflin County team had lost a district championship – a span of 12 years and 34 titles in a row, which turned out to be a Pennsylvania Babe Ruth state record.
But, because Altoona was the host of the state tournament in 2013, Mifflin County went to the tourney as the district representative.
Once Mifflin County got to Altoona it went 1-3 in pool play and that was good enough to get it into the state’s final four.
Then, Mifflin County pulled off one of the most stunning upsets of the tournament as it beat Altoona, 9-0, and made it to the state finals.
Mifflin County had loss three straight to Altoona, 13-3, 6-2 and 4-3, before the whitewash victory.
Then in the finals Mifflin County fell to West End of Williamsport, 8-0. It was the league’s 20th state runner-up.
Now, Belltown’s Mike Hostetler is the man in charge as he is an all-star manager for the first time. Hostetler has been the coach at Belltown for the past two years and has a 34-20 record.
This, however, will not be the first time that Hostetler has been on the Babe Ruth tournament trail. As a player from (14)?1985-1987 at Reedsville, he was a two-time all-star and as a 15-year-old in 1987 he and his teammates won the state championship in Milroy.
Now Hostetler is hoping that some of that magic will ub off on his team as it starts district play on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Perry County. The second game of the series is set for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. and an ‘if neccesary’ game will be played either Wednesday or Thursday.
Both teams will advance to the state tournament, which starts in Milroy on July 16.
“Our defense has played very well (in recent scrimmages) and our pitching has been good,” Hostetler said. “We need to work on our hitting and hope that we get some timely hits. As a group, we don’t have great speed, but we do have some players that can run. They are a year older and can see some maturity from when they were 13-years-old.”
Twelve of the 15 players are returing from last year’s team. Making it from league champion Belleville were Jake Yoder, Joey Taptich and Kyle Peachey.
Reedsville, the second place team in the league, has the most represenatives with four, Aaron Kanagy, Carson King and Aaron and Davis Wagner.
Other repeat all-stars are McVeytown’s Derick Cross, Lewistown’s Marcus Donahey, Beaver Springs’ Chris Elliott, Belltown’s Nick Hostetler and Strodes Mills’ Drew Williams.
Named to the all-star team for the first time were Belltown’s Hunter Goss and Austin Herring and Milroy’s Caleb Vega.
Assisting Hostetler are Stephen Alexander of Burnham and Kent Smith of Reedsville.