Babe Ruth season again comes down to the wire; Belleville joins power trio

For the second year in a row the top three teams in the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League were McVeytown, Strodes Mills and Burnham. But, this time a fourth team moved into contention for the title — Belleville.

The race, as it did last year, came down to the final week of the season with McVeytown coming out on top. Here is a look back at the 2017 Mifflin County Babe Ruth season.

¯ BEAVER SPRINGS (10-17): This was the mystery team of the league. The Springs beat the top two teams, McVeytown and Strodes Mills, but loss twice to a team in the basement, Reedsville.

The big news for Beaver Springs came on May 15 when it beat first place McVeytown 6-3. At the time McVeytown was undefeated (9-0) and Beaver Springs was in last place (1-7).

And the 6-3 score brought back a lot of memories. It was the same score in 2010 when Beaver Springs stopped Lewistown’s 73-game winning streak.

¯ BELLEVILLE (20-6): With seven starters returning in 2018, the Big Valley club should be a contender next summer. Bill Corbin, the veteran manager, has to find some reserves and pitchers that can eat up innings in early season games. All six of Belleville’s losses came against the top three teams in the league — McVeytown, Strodes Mills and Burnham.

¯ BELLTOWN (15-10): After winning the championship two years ago, Belltown has been in the middle of the pack the last two years. In fact, these last four years have been very productive as Belltown has racked up a 75-31 record, the most wins for any team in the league during that time. This year, Belltown had no losing streak longer than a game and had two wins over league champion McVeytown.

¯ BURNHAM (21-6): Burnham was in contention right up until the end of the season. On June 7, Burnham was in first place with a game and half lead, but three tough losses to McVeytown, Strodes Mills and Belleville doomed Burnham’s championship run. It did finish the season on a two-game winning streak including an 8-6 win over Strodes Mills. Manager Stephen Alexander used a lot of 13 and 14-year-olds and the future looks bright for Burnham.

¯ LEWISTOWN (5-22): It was another tough year for Lewistown, but there was an early stretch in June in which Lewistown showed some promise. On June 5, Lewistown lost to McVeytown, 12-2, but played a solid game with only two errors and only gave up two walks. Then on June 6 and 7, Lewistown beat Beaver Springs and Reedsville for its only two-game winning streak of the year. Gage Schaeffer, a 14-year-old, had an excellent year for the Lewistown team.

¯ MCVEYTOWN (22-4): McVeytown manager Justin Yoder has been working toward a championship for the past several years and this year everything came together. McVeytown had two long winning streaks of nine and seven games. Its longest losing streak was just two games. And McVeytown will be heard again from next year as Yoder loses only two starters and returns a strong core of 14-year-olds including Colby Bodtorf, Teagan Eddinger, Cole Knable, Owen Mock, Todd Renninger and Brian Yetter.

¯ MILROY (11-16): A very young team that showed great promise. It won every game that it should have except for a road game at Beaver Springs. And who can ever forget what happened on May 3 when it took Burnham into extra innings — 12 to be exact. It used all 13-year-old pitchers in a game that was tied 7-7 after seven innings. Milroy lost the game in the top of the 12th, but it was one those games that people will be talking about for years.

¯ REEDSVILLE (4-23): Last year’s Reedsville team won six games, but getting four wins this year was even more impressive. Reedsville started six 13-year-olds. For long time manager Scott Reigle, it was not an easy year. But there were some rewards. Take, for example, May 18 and 19. On the 18th, Reedsville played one of its worst games of the season, losing to Belltown, 22-11. The very next day, it played one of its best games, beating Yeagertown, 13-3.

¯ STRODES MILLS (21-6): It’s never easy being the favorite. Only 11 times during the past 60 years has a team repeated. Strodes’ six losses were by a combined total of 11 runs. And one of those losses to McVeytown went 10 innings. In the middle of the season, Strodes rolled off seven wins in a row for its longest winning streak of the year. And it was never out of the chase until it loss its last game of season to Burnham, 8-6.

¯ YEAGERTOWN (4-23): It was cold. It was a very long game. But for Yeagertown it might have been the warmest day of the season. On a Saturday night in late April at Armagh Memorial Field, Yeagertown snapped a 32-game losing streak by beating Reedsville, 16-12, in nine innings. The game lasted four hours and 10 minutes and when it ended the tempature was 44 degrees.

Yeagertown finished with 13 hits with Brooks Burdick, Kelly Ferguson, Cade Penepacker, Darin Richard, Austin Wagner and Holden Yocum each getting two. Yeagertown scored four times in the ninth inning to win the game and one of its hits came from Dom Brittain, who was in his first year of playing organized baseball.