Mifflin County cruises into final
10-run third propels team to championship
LONGVIEW, Wash. — It looked grim for the Mifflin County Babe Ruth 15-year-olds after two innings against KWRL-Centerfield, the Pacific Northwest champion, in the second Babe Ruth World Series semifinal.
Mifflin County trailed 3-0 and had yet to produce a hit.
Three innings later, it was Mifflin County 16, Centerfield 4 — and now Mifflin County will play for the natonal title against Tallahassee, Fla., today at 9 p.m. Mifflin Countybeat the Florida team earlier in the tournament, 3-2.
This marks the second time that Mifflin County has made the national finals, both by largely the same group of players — this same team did it in 2016 as 13-year-olds.
Mifflin County exploded for 10 runs in the third inning and added six more runs in the fourth. The game ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule.
The local all-stars pounded out 11 hits in those two innings. Brian Yetter and Casey Conner each had two hits. Yetter drove in four runs as he had an RBI single in the third to go along with a sacrifice fly. Yetter drove in two more runs with a double in the fourth.
Conner had two RBIs with a single in the third and also had a base hit in the fourth. He scored two runs.
Cole Schlegel kicked off the crucial inning with a walk — the team’s third straight inning with a leadoff walk.
Centerfield pitcher Derek Kropp hit Colby Bodtorf to put runners on first and second, giving league MVP Brian Yetter a chance to give the team it’s first run. Yetter singled to right to score Schlegel.
Yetter safely stole second base and another walk to Eichorn — this time on four pitches — loaded the bases.
Casey Conner delivered the game-tying hit, doubling up the middle to score both Bodtorf and Yetter.
Brycen Hassinger singled to right to score Eichorn and move Connor up to third. Hassinger promptly stole second base.
Both runners advanced on a wild pitch with Conner scoring as Mifflin County’s fifth run before Centerfield could even record an out.
Once Centerfield could get an out, the train didn’t stop moving.
Conner Cherry scored Hassinger on a single to left. That was the hit that removed Kropp from the game in favor of Devan Turner.
Kropp allowed seven runs off six hits, four walks and hit batter. He struck out two in 2 1/3 innings of work.
Things didn’t get any easier for Centerfield with a new pitcher as Turner walked Bryce Dobson and Schlegel in back-to-back at-bats — both on four pitches — to load the bases.
Then Cherry scored on a wild pitch and right behind him was Dobson as Centerfield had a tough time getting the ball back in play.
Bodtorf then got on base for the second time in the inning on a two-strike single up the middle to put runners on the corner.
Schlegel then scored again in the frame as Bodtorf moved all the way to third on a wild pitch.
The last of the 10 runs to score came off the bat of Yetter on a sac-fly to center to score Bodtorf.
On this night, Mifflin County got some help from the opposing pitchers. After the second inning, KWRL had three wild pitches that scored three runs and the Southern Washington champions committed two errors that allowed two more runs to score.
Still, the offense was not the whole story.
After a rocky start from Cole Knable on the mound, Justin Yoder, the Mifflin County manager, called on Connor Cherry to shut down the Centerfield bats.
Cherry responded with by getting the last out of the second and then tossing shutout innings in the third and fourth. Bryce Dobson finished the fifth by allowing one run and one hit.
Cherry finished three strikeouts all in the third inning. He walked two and gave up no hits.
Mifflin County had one other extra-base hit and that came in the fourth inning as Ethan Eichhorn and Yetter hit back to back doubles.
Notes: Owen Mock, a pinch runner, scored his first Babe Ruth World Series run. … In 2004, Mifflin County was eliminated by a Southern Washington team in the 15-year-old Babe Ruth World Series. … KWRL refers to several school districts that contribute to the Washington team. … Mifflin County now has played 994 games and has a record of 694-300.
Sports reporter Arthur Dowell contributed to this story from Lewistown.