Season brings change in Babe Ruth
What a season in the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League. There was a changing of the guard and a pennant race for the ages between Belleville and Reedsville.
And there were a few other note worthy happenings in the league, too.
Yeagertown had the first brother-sister act on the mound and behind the plate, with Isaac and Kaegan Matthews. Also Yeagertown had the first female battery, Kaegan Matthews and Hailee Weader.
And Belleville’s Eddie Hamman tripled one night and drove in both of his sisters, Sierra and Serena McConaughey.
BEAVER SPRINGS (13-14) – It was an up and down season for the Springs. But the whole season could be summed up by what happened at Armagh Memorial Field. On June 11, Beaver Springs showed up and played its best game of the year beating one of the top teams in the league, Reedsville, 8-0. Then on June 18, Beaver Springs played the same Reedsville team in a double header and got swept, 18-3 and 14-9.
BELLEVILLE (23-4) – This team had just about everything. It had a good pitching, solid hitting, power that went to all fields. Sometimes its defense could take a few plays off, but overall it did the job. The players were worked as a team, the coaching staff was together and the combination was a championship year.
BELLTOWN (19-8) – The first time I walked into the Belltown dugout this spring, Levi Sherwood, the teams’s 15-year-old shortstop, said, “Hey, Ray you picked us too low (fifth or sixth). We are going to finish at least third,” Well, Levi was right and I was wrong.
As the season came to a close, the best team in the league might have been Belltown.
BURNHAM (8-19) – Don’t let this record fool you. This was a far different team than the one that closed out the 2013 season. Not only was it a young team, filled with rookies, but the new coaching staff turned it into a baseball team. In two of the three games with one of the top teams, it gave Reedsville everything it wanted and then some. Burnham just lost two close games, 8-7 and 9-7. And it beat Lewistown for the first time since 2000, not once, but twice, snapping a 40-game losing streak.
LEWISTOWN (16-10) – For the new West coaching staff, it might have been the toughest job in the 60-year history of the league. No team had ever won six titles in a row. The fan base expected wins, the 14- and 15-year-old players had only lost two games in two years and nine teams were waiting like sharks in a feeding frenzy. And the rebuilding job is just beginning. Other dynasties have had trouble rebounding. Take for example, Yeagertown, which dominated from 1980 to 1986, winning four titles and racking up a 150-26 record. Since that time Yeagertown has only won one championship (2003). Burnham dominated from 1990 to 2000, winning six titles, but it hasn’t been back in the winner’s circle since.
MCVEYTOWN (4-23) – One of the youngest teams in the league, McVeytown did have a nice run when it won three of five games from May 4 to May 12 as it beat Burnham, Milroy and Yeagertown. And at the end of the season, it gave Reedsville a scare losing by just four and then beating Burnham in its last game of the year.
MILROY (5-21) – Milroy was another one of those clubs that was young and going through a rebuilding season. Last year Milroy tied for fourth place, but both of its top pitchers were gone for 2014. With only three 15-year-olds on the roster, the team went through a lot of growing pains. It did have a few good moments, especially at the start of the season and near the end when it shocked Yeagertown twice.
STRODES MILLS (14-12) – Strodes Mills, under a new coaching staff, put together its second straight winning season. The Mills boys won seven of their last nine games and twice knocked off one of the top teams in the league, Reedsville. In fact, it had another good streak at the start of the season as it won six of seven games. But in the middle of the year, it went on a six-game losing streak. It did finish in the first division for the second straight year.
REEDSVILLE (22-5) – Oh, if it wasn’t for those rainouts with Strodes Mills. History does repeat itself. In 2002, Reedsville and Lewistown were locked up in a battle for the top spot. On the night of May 17 (a Friday) it was dark and gloomy. Two games on the schedule got played that night. The Reedsville-Strodes Mills game started at 7 p.m. in Milroy. Reedsville was in control of the game and in fact had a no-hitter after four innings. But, it never finished as it was rained out.
The game was replayed on a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon (June 1). Strodes Mills, the last-place team in the league, won, 22-19. And Reedsville would finish two and half games from the title.
Go forward 12 years. On Monday, June 16, Reedsville traveled to Rec Park to face Strodes Mills, the fifth-place team in the league. The game started at 6 p.m., but it never got finished. It was stopped after four innings with Reedsville leading 13-8. All the other games that night were played.
Reedsville then had to go back to Rec Park on Friday, June 20, and this time Strodes Mills pulled out a 5-4 win in the bottom of the seventh.
Reedsville finished second to Belleville by a game.
YEAGERTOWN (9-17) – Yeagertown finished on a two-game winning streak and it was the only time that it won two games in a row. The team did give its long time manager (Fred Zook) his 500th win and one of the highlights of the season came on June 6 when it was down to third place Belltown on the road in the first inning, 7-1, and came back to win, 11-8.
Ray Wilde covers Babe Ruth baseball for The Sentinel.