Extra-innings heroics lift Mifflin County

Pair of pitchers combine for a no-hitter

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Beech Creek runner Tanner LaVelle is caught in a rundown between Mifflin County shortstop Max Oburn and pitcher Drew Westover (15) covering first base Tuesday in Lewistown.

LEWISTOWN — Mifflin County was down to its final out twice, and on both occasions made them count in a 4-2, nine-inning win over Beech Creek in Legion baseball Tuesday night.

Post 287 overcame deficits in both the seventh and ninth innings to somehow overshadow a combined no-hitter by pitchers Drew Westover and Holden Yocum.

“If ever a team deserves to win a game, it’s this team tonight,” Mifflin County coach Bernie Howard said. “They played magnificently tonight. We were down to our last swing and never gave up.”

The Crickets regained the lead in the top of the ninth, forcing Yocum to dig deep in finding ways to get outs.

Yocum walked the first two hitters — Tanner LaVelle and Brandon Miller — with both advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch that put Miller on base.

Post 287’s shortstop Max Oburn made a remarkable play, diving for the ball in front and making the force at first base. The play forced the runners to stay put as Oburn initially had to come up for the ball, and not play as deep as a typical shortstop would.

LaVelle eventually scored on a fielder’s choice to home where Mifflin County couldn’t come up with the ball.

The Crickets couldn’t do anything else with the threat, leaving the dramatics open for Post 287.

“Holding them to one run in the top of the ninth was big,” Howard said. “That could have easily been three or more there.”

Reliever Mitch Smith looked as if he may the role of closer down pat for the Crickets, getting a pair of strikeouts to open the frame.

Mifflin County (2-1), though, wanted to play spoiler once more.

Drew Westover and Oburn worked a pair of two-out walks and got into scoring position on a wild pitch on the fourth wide one to Oburn.

The stage was set for Hostetler who saved the best hit ball for last — a drive to left-center field that was out of the reach of both outfielders, scoring Westover and Oburn to give Post 287 the win.

“Nick came through with a huge hit for us,” Howard said. “But that wouldn’t have been possible for that big seventh inning.”

Indeed it wouldn’t have, and experience in critical situations does make a team better. It doesn’t hurt that such experience needed for a comeback came just an hour before.

Post 287 was trailing by two to begin the home half of the seventh and had just one hit — a single by Noah Wright — to show for its efforts up to that point.

Doubt never settled into the club as it loaded the bases on an opening single by Tyreen Smalley, base on balls to Hudson First and single by Wright. That was just to open the inning.

Starting pitcher Ethan Watkins was looking to finish what he started and following a strikeout, it looked like he may have done just that by getting Nathan Poche to roll into the makings of a double play.

The Crickets got the out at second, but then threw the ball wide of first base, allowing both Smalley and First to score and tie the game.

“We were down to our last out there as they made the play at second, but great base running by Nathan Poche helped save the game,” Howard said. “We were two runs and tied it up and of course with that said, our two pitchers didn’t let up a hit tonight.”

The biggest cause for concern on the mound was the number of pitches Westover needed to get through 5 2/3 innings having walked nine batters — only one being intentional. He threw 105 pitches in the outing.

Surely, history couldn’t repeat itself.

“Drew was involved in another game like this a couple of years ago when he was on the losing end of a 1-0 no-hitter,” Howard said. “I can’t say enough about him. He did have a little issue with the walks during the game and reached the maximum pitch count mid-game and Holden Yocum came in was tremendous.

“There were a few pressure-filled situations there where both pitchers rised to the occasion and got out of crucial jams, allowing us to win this game tonight.”

The two combined for 13 walks and 12 strikeouts. All three of the Crickets’ runs were earned, but only LaVelle recorded an RBI via a bases-loaded walk in the sixth.

After struggling offensively for much of the game, Post 287 had a trio of hitters — Hostetler, Smalley and Wright — finish with multiple hits.

The team will look to take its exciting win on the road to West Virginia where Post 287 will play in the Hillbilly Hardball Classic in Elkins, starting Thursday.

Mifflin County 4, Beech Creek 2 (9 inn.)

Beech Creek 001 001 001 — 3-0-1

Mifflin County 000 000 202 — 4-5-1

WP: Holden Yocum. LP: Mitch Smith. SO: Ethan Watkins 8, Smith 2 (BC); Drew Westover 7, Yocum 5 (MC). BB: Watkins 2, Smith 2 (BC); Westover 9, Yocum 4 (MC). MH: Nick Hostetler 2-for-5, Tyreen Smalley 2-for-4, Noah Wright 2-for-4 (MC). RBI: Tanner Lavelle (BC); Hostetler 2, Nathan Poche (MC).