Home is where the win is

Field conditions force change of venue; Huskies manage improbable walk-off

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mifflin County's Bryce Dobson slides into home for the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, beating the throw to State College catcher Tyson Cooper.

STATE COLLEGE — Not even George Lucas at his best could script a Hollywood ending better than what the Mifflin County baseball team did Friday evening against Mid-Penn Commonwealth rival State College.

The Huskies rallied from a five-run deficit, scoring six runs in the bottom of the seventh to clinch a playoff berth in a wild 6-5 victory over the Little Lions. The win puts Mifflin County at 8-10 overall and 7-7 in the league, good enough to meet the school policy for postseason play.

“That has to be right there at the top for our biggest win. Chuck (Curry) and I have been coaching together for 20 years and he just said to me that might be the biggest win we’ve ever had. It certainly one of the biggest comeback wins we’ve had. How sweet,” Mifflin County coach Bernie Howard said. “We have to be positive and we talk about this every single day. You have to believe and we believe. Sometimes, you have to look at adversity and not blink. What a great team effort.”

The game — which was supposed to be played at Mifflin County — was moved to State College because of poor field conditions in Lewistown. The Huskies played as the home team, batting last, which set up the dramatic finish.

Evan Smith started the rally drawing a walk from Little Lion reliever Brandon Franks. Isaac Matthews reached on an error and Max Oburn was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Colby Bodtorf brought home the Huskies’ first run with a liner to left.

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mifflin County Huskies baseball player celebrate after scoring six runs in the final inning Friday to clinch a playoff spot.

Brian Yetter, who was 2-for-4 on the day, gashed a three-run double to the right-center gap, cutting the State College lead to 5-4. With one out, Bryce Dobson singled, moving Yetter to third and Evan Mock was intentionally walked to load the bases. Tyreen Smalley reached on a walk-off error, scoring both Yetter and the winning run in Dobson. A stunned State College crowd could only look on in disbelief at the Husky celebration happening at home plate.

Dobson picked up the win in relief. He allowed no hits with one strikeout in two-thirds of an inning. Franks suffered the loss for State College. He gave up all six runs, three earned, on three hits with two Ks and two walks.

“We told them pick away, pick away every inning. Obviously, it was a higher hill to climb. We had great contributions today up and down the lineup,” Howard said. “Cole Schlegel did a very nice job in relief. Dobson, who’s pitched very little, has looked good. We were a little bit depleted with innings. We had no hesitation bringing Bryce in and he did a great job.”

David Shoemaker started the game for State College and was lights out for five-plus innings. The Penn commit gave up five hits, fanning seven with two walks. The Huskies only threatened Shoemaker once and that was in the fourth when they loaded the bases with two outs but couldn’t bring any runs across. Shoemaker used a slider and a nice breaking ball to keep Mifflin County off-balance. He threw 96 pitches before leaving in the sixth.

“He is a solid pitcher going Division I. He mixed his pitches well. We had trouble figuring him out,” Howard said.

The Little Lions scored a run in the third on an error, a run in the fourth on a fielder’s choice RBI by Jake Cooper and a run in the sixth on another Husky error to make it 3-0. State College appeared to lock things up with two runs in the sixth on a two-run double to left by Keith Kurzinger.

A big key to the Mifflin County win happened all the way back in the first inning. State College (7-10, 6-8), losers of four straight, loaded the bases with no outs against Husky starter Tristin Lockett and failed to bring a run across. Lockett induced Tyson Cooper into a double play and A.J. Arnold grounded out to second.

“We got out of a bases loaded, one-out jam and it was huge. Without that, we wouldn’t be going to the playoffs,” Howard said. “All you have to do to read this team is look at the line for the seventh inning. We put nine guys to the plate and every one did their job. They deserve this. They have played their hearts out as a team and sacrificed for one another. I couldn’t be more pleased or happier. I’m very proud of them.”

Yetter and Bodtorf led the Huskies with two hits each. Jack Hurley had two hits for the Little Lions.

The Huskies travel to Central Mountain on Monday.

Mifflin County 6, State College 5

State College 001 101 2 — 5-7-3

Mifflin County 000 000 6 — 6-8-4

WP: Bryce Dobson. LP: Brandon Franks. SO: David Shoemaker 7, Franks 2 (SC); Tristin Lockett 3, Cole Schlegel 2, Dobson (MC). BB: Shoemaker 2, Franks 2 (SC); Lockett 4, Schlegel (MC). 2B: Jack Hurley, Keith Kurzinger (SC); Brian Yetter (MC). MH: Hurley 2-3 (SC); Yetter 2-4, Colby Bodtorf 2-4 (MC). RBI: Kurzinger 2, Jake Cooper (SC); Yetter 3, Bodtorf (MC).