Big bats propel MC to final

LEWISTOWN – Mifflin County put on an offensive clinic Wednesday night, pounding out 16 hits, including four home runs, coasting by Big Valley 14-4 in the Little League District 5 10- and 11-year old consolation bracket final at Kish Park in Lewistown.

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

The barrage was something manager Charlie Whiteman knew his team had in it; after the offense took a few innings to get going in its first two tournament games against Four Leaf and Bellefonte, Whiteman figured it was time for Mifflin County to jump out on top for a change.

The purple and gray did just that. Mark Shilling tossed a perfect top of the first and leadoff hitter Brando Souders took Big Valley starter Kyle Kohler deep to put Mifflin County on top 1-0. Gage Schaeffer followed the blast with a single and scored when Bryce Dobson hit a bomb of his own.

Kohler got out of the inning without any more damage, but the bottom of the second saw Mifflin County continue to light up the scoreboard. Nick Goss and Souders hit back-to-back, one-out doubles, bringing Schaeffer back to the plate. He launched a two-run shot to left, his second hit in as many innings. Bryce Dobson would score later in the inning on a passed ball to stake the home team to a comfortable 7-0 lead.

“It was the best offense we’ve had so far this year,” Whiteman said of his team’s performance. “When we played Four Leaf, we hit it right to them. Then we played Bellefonte and waited too late to get started. Now tonight, they hit right off the bat like they’re capable of.”

Big Valley, however, wasn’t content to just roll over and look to next season just yet. With two men on in the top of the third, Jaden Jackson ripped a two-run double off the right field fence. Hayden Hicks and Kohler contributed RBI singles later in the inning to make it a 7-4 ball game.

After tacking on a run off reliever Hicks in the third, Mifflin County heated up and hung a crooked number on the board in the fourth. Connor Cherry got things started by smacking a solo home run, his first of the entire Little League season. Shilling and Gavin Ream singled, setting up a two-run double from Goss. Schaeffer later added a sacrifice fly. By the time the dust settled, it was 12-4 Mifflin County after four innings and the remainder of the contest was a mere formality.

Three straight base hits in the bottom of the fifth scored a run and put runners on the corners, setting up a chance for reserve Clay Bubb to put Mifflin County up by 10 and end the game if he could get the runner on third to cross home plate. He succeeded, hitting a grounder to second base. The ball wasn’t fielded cleanly, but it wouldn’t have mattered – Mifflin County was moving on in the tournament.

“Their offense was just too much tonight,” Big Valley manager Tim Hicks said. “There’s not much you can do with power hitters like that. You walk a few guys then someone hits a home run, that’s two or three runs right there.”

Hicks liked the resolve he saw from his team in the third inning that got the boys from Big Valley back in the game, albeit briefly. The team finished 1-2 in the tournament, earning a win over Four Leaf after being sent to the consolation bracket after an opening-round loss to Bellefonte.

Mifflin County will travel to Bellefonte Friday and will need to beat the Centre County squad twice. If it wins Friday, the district championship game will be Sunday at Kish Park. Friday’s game will be a rematch of Monday night’s contest that saw Bellefonte come out on top by a score of 12-8.

“We have a good chance of beating them,” Whiteman said. “They’re a really good team. But if we play like we did tonight, I think we have a real good chance.”