First inning puts Post 287 in a hole

BEECH CREEK – Surrender a couple of early runs, limit the damage, come back to put up a crooked number in your half of the first inning, add on more runs and ride strong pitching.

That was the script followed by Beech Creek Monday as the Crickets downed Mifflin County, 7-2, in American Legion baseball.

“The boys jumped on them right off the bat,” Beech Creek manager Gaylord Hanley said. “We scored four runs, but the key was that we hit the ball hard while taking advantage of a couple of walks. We were able to keep the pressure on them by hitting the ball hard all night.”

Knowing what his team was facing in the Crickets, Post 287 manager Bernie Howard knew it was going to be an uphill battle for his team.

“When you get behind early like we did, it makes it tough to play,” Howard said. “(Cricket starting pitcher Kenny) Heverly kind of took the bats right out of our hands and that made it tough.”

Mifflin County did all of its scoring in its first two at-bats with single tallies in each inning, while Beech Creek scored in its half of the first inning when it sent 11 men to the plate and came away with four runs.

“I don’t believe we gave up four runs in any inning all year,” Howard said. “If memory serves me right they had two broken bat hits that didn’t even make it to the second baseman and that happens. That is the way the game goes sometimes.”

Mifflin County scored its first run when Isaac Strohecker led off the game with a base on balls before scoring when Shane Connahan was safe on a Cricket error.

For its second run, John Michael Maclay smacked a single to center, went to second on a wild pitch by Heverly, moved to third on a ground out by Kyle Bodtorf and scored on Carter Spade’s RBI ground out.

Beech Creek’s runs came as the result of five hits and a pair of walks.

Trapper Kunes led off the frame by working Maclay for a free pass and Cole Hanley followed with a perfectly executed bunt for a single.

Chuck Probst beat out an infield single off the pitcher’s glove before Toner Corl drove in Kunes and Hanley with a two-run single to left. Ethan McGill made it 3-1 by chasing Probst across the dish with an infield single and Corl scored thanks to an RBI single to right by Caleb Seyler.

With Heverly now having shaken off the sluggish start, he took control of the game to keep the Huskies off the board over the final five innings. For the game, Heverly allowed the two runs on four hits, striking out seven while issuing four free passes.

The Crickets scored five of their seven runs with two outs.

“It is hard to argue with that,” Howard said. “I thought Heverly threw a very nice game and we knew he was a good quality pitcher because we had seen him before. He spread our hits out and after the first two innings and we really didn’t threaten much at all.”

While Howard had a lot of nice things to say about Heverly, he also thought that his pitcher, John Michael Maclay, pitched a nice game as well.

“John Michael pitched well and he might have deserved a little better than that,” Howard said. “That (Beech Creek) is a good ball club and they made him pay when he missed his spots. They are definitely one of the best teams in the league.”

Howard and his troops won’t have much time to refocus and regroup as they travel to Bellefonte today for another Central Penn League encounter with the Bellefonte Bandits.

“We’ll bounce back,” Howard said.