Martin in control as Indians drop ’Cats

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Juniata’s Donovan Ranck, left, looks to get his foot on home plate as Greenwood catcher Bryce Dalpiaz turns to apply the tag Thursday in Mifflintown.

MIFFLINTOWN — For the first half of the season, Juniata has carried out a tradition that may seem odd to some people.

No matter the opponent, no matter the score, the Indians are seen dousing somebody from the team’s coolers after a victory.

Thursday afternoon was no different as the Indians took advantage of some early Greenwood defensive woes on the way to a 7-4 Tri-Valley League baseball win.

“It’s our way of saying we won regardless of who it was against, how big or small the game was because to me all games are big,” Juniata coach Nick Beward said of the tradition. “That’s the way they celebrate. They like to give somebody on the team a water bath.”

It’s not atypical to see the the team cool down the player with the proven arm or bat, but on Thursday they decided to skip over pitcher Korey Martin.

Martin pitched a complete game for the Indians, facing the minimum three in each of the first four innings. In that span, Martin allowed two base runners — a single by Aaron Morder that was quickly erased in a 5-4-3 double play, and error by Indians’ third baseman Donovan Ranck.

“I thought Korey Martin should have gotten it tonight because he threw a whale of a game,” Beward said. “I thought he did a wonderful job. … He kept the damage minimal.”

Martin allowed four runs — two earned — on seven hits, one walk, and two Indians’ errors. He threw 68 pitches in the contest.

It certainly helped his cause on the mound when the bats were strong early with much of it coming from heads-up baserunning on four defensive miscues in the second and third innings for the Wildcats.

“The errors are what lost it for us today,” Greenwood coach Mark Sherman said. “Our pitching was good enough to win, our hitting in the end was good enough to win, but the errors hurt us. We focus a lot on pitching and defense, and you need to have both of them in order to win.”

Out of the seven Indians’ runs, two were earned.

The teams first run was earned when Bryce Leonard — who reached base on a single to kick off the second — came around to score on Donovan Ranck’s perfectly placed blooper to the Bermuda Triangle between shortstop, center field and second base.

On the same play, Wildcats’ center fielder Parker Taylor committed the team’s first error when he overran the ball, allowing Ranck to take second.

Juniata tacked on two more runs — both unearned. The first came on a ball four wild pitch that walked Martin, and allowed Chase Kepner to score from third. A few pitches later, with Levi Harper on third, Martin stole second base. On the play, Wildcats’ catcher Bryce Dalpiaz attempted to catch Harper off guard, throwing wide to third baseman Eli Goodling, allowing Harper to put the Indians up 3-0.

Things didn’t get much better for the Wildcats with Taylor dropping Spencer Page’s pop-up — nearly coming down with a circus grab — in center for his second error in the early going. Pitcher Aaron Bollinger looked as if he might get out of the inning unscathed, getting two quick outs.

A Ranck infield single — beating the throw from Drew Paden at second — and an error allowed Page to score, giving Martin and the Indians a quick 4-0 lead.

Ranck went 3-for-3 on the day out of the No. 6 spot in the lineup.

The Wildcats struck for four runs in the final three innings.

Greenwood got the leadoff hitter on base in all three frames. Twice it was Paden, kicking off with singles in the top of the fifth and seventh innings. He accounted for two of the team’s runs, coming around to score on a bang-bang play at the plate after a Martin wild pitch.

Paden also came around on a Dalpiaz RBI single in the seventh.

Morder picked up his third hit of the afternoon, a double to right, that scored Dalpiaz.

Juniata (7-3) travels to Newport on Monday, and Greenwood (4-7) hosts Susquenita on Tuesday.