Juniata falls in wild one

MIFFLINTOWN – After giving up a second-inning grand slam and watching Danville post a six-run lead Monday, it may have seemed like Juniata’s American Legion baseball team was down and out in the regular-season finale of its inaugural season.

You’d be half right. Post 298 answered the first Danville storm with eight runs of its own, holding a lead that lasted until the fourth inning.

That’s when the Montour County club went on its second rampage, one that took the locals out of the game for good. Danville won the contest 16-9.

It was a stunning turnaround for Juniata, which had picked up a pair of wins the day before in a Susquehanna Valley American Legion League doubleheader, including a Chantz Swartz no-hitter against Catawissa.

The loss puts Post 298 at 3-13, but still eligible for the league playoff bracket.

After two innings Monday, it seemed like this game could be one for the ages. Danville scored in the top of the first when leadoff batter Tyler Fisher tripled on a full count, then scored on a wild pitch.

See if this sound familiar: In Juniata’s half, Adrian Martin, in the two spot, tripled on a full count and scored on a wild pitch.

The second inning is where it really got wild. Danville’s Mark Mullery doubled, then a walk and two errors set up Colton Riley, whose grand slam made it 6-1 Danville. One more crossed the plate for the visitors before it went to the bottom.

Juniata’s turn started with Blaise Roush single, then Justin Mingle walked. Mingle was erased on a Taran Sheaffer fielder’s choice, then a Korey Martin single led to two runs crossing the plate.

After a second out, Nick Stahr reached on an error, and the next five Juniata batters hit safely – singles to Adrian Martin, Chas Maguire; Chad Eberle and Roush each doubled.

And Post 298 had the lead.

“It’s just one of those innings. It didn’t really beat us, but the next trip around they got us,” Juniata manager Mark Mingle said.

It lasted until the fourth, when Danville took advantage of a drop in Juniata’s pitching. A pair of walks opened the frame; two doubles were wrapped around a sac fly – and then came another error. Danville had three more base hits and drew another walk before the carnage ended. The visitors went off the field sitting on a 14-8 lead.

Juniata had two pitching changes along the way, as the starter Stahr gave was to Derek Snyder, who lasted less than an inning until Roush got the call.

“Derek never got in the groove. He never got settled in there,” Mingle said. And Roush did well, but as the coach noted, “He came in in a jam. That’s just all there is to it.

“They hit everything we could throw at them for awhile there. We threw three pitchers and they hit all three of them.”

This time, Juniata couldn’t match the offensive production. Adrian Martin led off with a base hit, and Eberle bashed a triple to score the run. But it turned out to be the last one the home team could manage. Danville put up two more in the fifth to make the final.

Several SVALL teams have games to complete this week, although the league tournament is expected to be seeded within a day or two. Being part of it means a lot of Mingle and his crew.

“We set one low goal in the beginning of the year, and that was make playoffs,” he said. “We squeezed in, so now we’re in a double-elimination tournament where anything goes. You pull off one or two upsets, and you might make regionals.”