Post 287 cruises in Howard’s homecoming

WILLIAMSPORT — When Bernie Howard brought his American Legion baseball team over the Seven Mountains for a senior division battle with Williamsport Post 1, it was more or less of a homecoming for the veteran Mifflin County Post 287 mentor.

Although the game was played on soil foreign to the 2019 roster at Brandon Park, the venue was anything but foreign to Howard who played his legion baseball on the same field for the same team, Post 1.

“It was many years ago when I played here for Post 1,” Howard recalled. “When their coach called me and asked if we was interested in playing a game I was very happy to accommodate them by bringing my team up here. It was a nice win for us and coming off a big win (1-0 over State College) it made it nicer yet.”

Other than playing the game hard and to win it, the game meant nothing to either team as a non-conference affair.

“We talked a little bit about that,” said Howard, “We wanted to come up here, have fun and get ready for a big week ahead of us. We have three league games in four days plus a tournament next weekend so we have to be ready to go. It was just a beautiful day for baseball and because we were a little shorthanded today, everybody got a share of playing time and I thought we played well.”

When the issue was finally decided in a game that seemed like it was never going to end, Mifflin County walked off the field with a convincing 11-3 win.

The Huskies scored in each of the first five innings, putting up crooked numbers in the second, third and fifth innings.

In registering the win, Howard and assistant coach Chuck Curry used three pitchers, Holden Yocum working the first three innings, Connor Cherry working the next three before Evan Mock got his chance to toe the slab as he worked the seventh inning to close out the game.

“Evan Mock wants on the mound so bad and he got a chance in the seventh inning,” Howard said. “He responded with a 1-2-3 inning and I’ll never hear the end of that from him,” said Howard. “But really he did a real good job as they all did.”

Now 8-2 overall and 4-1 in the league, Howard likes where his team is heading into the grinder of a week.

“Certainly,” Howard said when asked if he felt his team was ready to face the task. “We are very athletic and right now we are playing well. We have been playing well and that is another reason why I wanted the guys to have a good spirited game today to keep that momentum going. We have a day off (Sunday) and then on Monday we are right back at it.”

Mifflin County scored first in the top of the first on a walk issued to Max Oburn followed by an RBI single by Ethan Eichhorn.

However, the initial MC lead was short-lived as Post 1 came back to take advantage of some loose play by Post 287 that resembled that of the Bad News Bears to take their only lead in the game at 2-1.

From that point on, Mifflin County was like a steam locomotive warming up its engine as it scored two in the second and third innings and one in the fourth before blowing things wide open with a five-spot in the fifth.

Oburn (RBI single) and Colby Bodtorf (RBI fielder’s choice) did the job for Mifflin County in the second and singles by Mock and an RBI single by Connor Yoder took care of things in the third.

Oburn singled and rode home ahead of an RBI single by Jaxson Pupo in the fourth and then in the fifth Tristin Lockett singled and scored. Oburn was plunked by a pitch and scored, Bodtorf reached on a fielder’s choice and scored before Eichhorn ripped a two-run double to left. Wrapping it up, Mock did Eichhorn one better when he smacked a triple to left field.

Post 1 tallied a final consolation run in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Evan Nagy and Naaman Amos.

Post 287 122 150 0 — 11 14 3

Post 1 200 001 0 — 3 3 3

Holden Yocum, Connor Cherry (4), Evan Mock (7) and Jaxson Dupo. Michael Taylor, Brian Confer (3), Drake Mankey (4), Solomon Grant (6) and Mankey, Amos(4). WP: Cherry. LP: Taylor. 2B: Ethan Eichhorn (287) 1, Evan Nagy (1) 1, Amos (1) 1. 3B: Evan Mock (287) 1. RBIs: Mifflin County 8 (Eichhorn 3, Pupo 2, Oburn 1, Bodtorf 1, Yoder 1); Post 1 (Amos 2).