Bases of victory
LEWISTOWN – Mifflin County had to battle and do everything right, but Post 287 erased a 2-0 fourth-inning deficit and dropped Clearfield 5-2 in an American Legion baseball game on Wednesday night at Rec Park.
The turning point came on the base paths thanks to the legs and instincts of Mifflin County first baseman Drew Hannon.
Down a run in the bottom of the fifth, Hannon drew a throw to third on a John Michael Maclay single to left to put two runners in scoring position with one out and scored on the ensuing suicide squeeze laid down by Carter Spade to tie the game at 2-2.
“I was trying to not leave too early,” Hannon said of the play. “I was making sure I didn’t give away the squeeze.”
Hannon delivered a two-out, two-run single the next inning to give Post 287 starting pitcher Issac Strohecker some breathing room and make it 5-2.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Hannon said. “I was just trying to get the run in.”
Strohecker delivered a complete game in which he allowed just the two fourth-inning runs on six hits to earn the victory.
“Tonight it was Issac Strohecker on the mound who set the tone,” Mifflin County manager Bernie Howard said. “Even in the fourth with the base hits, from that point on he was lights out. Of the last 12 guys he faced, he gave up a swinging bunt base hit and a walk.”
Runs were hard to come by early on as both Strohecker and Clearfield starter Ben Orsich put up zeros the first three innings.
Mifflin County did have an opportunity to strike first in the bottom half of the opening inning.
Max Remy drew a one-out walk and quickly stole second base to get into scoring position with one down.
Lucas McKay grounded to third and Remy advanced to third on the throw, by Orsich got Heath Hidlay to ground out to third and end the threat.
The first time either team got the lead-off runner on base, Clearfield was able to make it count in the top of the fourth.
Sawyer Rowles lead off the fourth with a single to center and two batters later, Cole Kephart split the left-center field gap for an RBI double and the game’s first run.
Clearfield starting pitcher Ben Orsich helped himself out with a run-scoring single to center and made it 2-0 visitors.
Mifflin County started to claw back when Lucas McKay ripped a one-out single to center and stole second base.
The throw went center and McKay took the extra base to land on third with less than two outs.
Heath Hidlay cashed in on the opportunity with an RBI groundout up the middle to cut the lead to 2-1 Clearfield going to the fifth.
Post 287 added another one to even the game with some good, fundamental baseball on Spade’s squeeze play.
“Tonight we were opportunistic, getting the (second and third) situation,” Howard said. “I’m a real proponent of small ball. I know I have guys that can put it down. Carter Spade from the left side had a beauty.”
Orsich got Kyle Bodtorf to fly out to center and end the inning.
After issuing a two-out walk to Clearfield catcher Josh Sorbera, Strohecker got his counterpart swinging to end the sixth inning and keep the game tied.
Hunter Walker led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and Remy followed suit.
McKay walked to load the bases to set up Strohecker’s go-ahead sacrifice fly to make it 3-2.
“When we got up there in the bottom of the sixth, our one and two guys set the table,” Howard said. “Strohecker gave us the lead and Hannon gave us the cushion with the two-RBI base hit.”
Hannon tacked on the two-run single and Strohecker retired Clearfield in the top half of the seventh with little cause for concern.
The win pushes Mifflin County to 16-6 on the season – 10-3 in Central Penn League play – as it travels to Maryland for the Frederick American Legion Wood Bat tournament for four games.
“We just have to keep hitting the ball and playing good defense,” Hannon said. “We’ll be good.”