Season concludes for Post 287

BEECH CREEK — The more things change, the more they stay the same. That has been the recent trend for the Beech Creek Crickets in the Central Penn American Legion League.

Winning each of its three games in an abbreviated CPL championship tournament, the Crickets won their third straight league crown with a 11-4 victory over Mifflin County Post 287 Tuesday night in a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate.

“They don’t quit, they work hard and right now I am so proud of these boys,” Crickets’ manager Zach Rote said. “When they come together, we just like to have fun because they pick each other up. It is an exciting group to watch.”

As for his players not quitting, Rote addressed the team with that following the game.

“I got them in the dugout following the game and I told them, boys I am so proud of you for not hanging your heads and coming back when you fell behind,” Rote said. “Baseball can be a wild game and you just have to keep playing hard and they never let anything get them down. Hitting is contagious and we showed that in our two big innings. When one of them gets a hit, it spreads like wild fire.”

Moving on to the regionals, Rote realizes that he and his assistants will have to mix and match some of their pitchers with the team facing 9-inning games instead of the normal 7.

“Nine-inning games will be a whole new game for these kids,” Rote said. “We have a pretty deep staff and I even looked at Wyatt Koch and told him that he might have to throw because any eligible arm is fair game for the regional tournament.”

In the recent past, Mifflin County has been the biggest thorn in the side for the Crickets, winding up as the bridesmaid instead of the bride. In this year’s tournament, it was much of the same as Post 287 scrapped and battled, but just came up short of winning the crown.

“We were up 3-1 and it was like in a blink of an eye they hit us for five runs,” Mifflin County coach Bernie Howard said. “I felt they are the best hitting club in the league and the hits they got weren’t cheap. They hit the ball with a lot of authority and suddenly it is 6-3.”

The Crickets scored first when Toner Corl walked, went to third on a single to right by brother Asher Corl and scored on a Post 287 error.

Down 1-0, Post 287 took a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the second before going up 3-1 with a single run in the fourth.

In the second, Nick Hostetler walked, moved up to second on a sacrifice by Andrew Larson and later scored Mifflin County’s first run.

With two outs, Ty Bodtorf singled to center and scampered home on an RBI double to right by Aaron Kanagy.

For its third run of the night, it was a no-doubt-about-it home run to right by Hostetler.

However, Post 287 had to slide over and make room for the Crickets because they put up their first of two crooked numbers with a five-spot in the bottom of the fourth.

Big blows by Beech Creek in the uprising were a single by Talon Falls, doubles by Wyatt Koch and Austyn Carson, an RBI single by Trevor Hanna and a two-run triple by Mitch Smith.

Post 287 didn’t lay down and throw in the towel after the Beech Creek uprising as in the fifth, it manufactured its fourth and final run of the game.

With one out, Evan Mock tripled to right and Tyreen Smalley executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to allow Mock to edge MC one notch closer to the Crickets.

“To our credit Tyreen laid down that perfect squeeze bunt to make it 6-4 and Connor Yoder did a nice job keeping it (the score) close. We were in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and planning out strategy for the seventh inning and suddenly the old adage of walks will kill you got the best of us.”

Leading 6-4 with Mifflin County still very much in the game, the Crickets came through with the second offensive explosion in the sixth when they sent 10 men to the dish and came away with five runs to run the score to 11-4.

Key blows for Beech Creek were a two-run double by Brandon Miller, an RBI triple by Toner Corl and another two-bagger by Falls.

While his teammates were putting together a 10-hit attack, Cricket starter A.J. Smith kept things under control until Ethan Watkins came on in the sixth to close the door and end the season for Mifflin County.

With the loss, Mifflin County closes out its season at 21-8 and Howard felt that his troops accomplished a lot during the season.

“It was just a tough way for these guys to end their season because it has been a wonderful season,” he said. “You lose your top hitter (Isaac Maclay) and arguably the best catcher around and yet we kept moving forward. I thought the guys picked up the pieces and played really well. We finished 21-8, we won the championship of our tournament in West Virginia and I don’t think anybody saw that coming. Battling to the bitter end has been a characteristic of this team from square one. The importance of that to us is that the bulk of these guys will be the mainstay of our Mifflin County Husky high school program next year. You never like to lose and you never want to have that last game end in a loss, but overall we had a very good season.”