Mifflin County falters late, loses first contest

DREXEL HILL — For awhile it looked like the Mifflin County Babe Ruth 15-year-olds were going to stay with Tri-Township in the first game of the Pennsylvania state tournament.

Then Mifflin County ran in to a wall.

Mifflin County was ahead of Tri-Township, 9-7 after three innings, but failed to hold the lead as it fell in the first game of the tournament, 12-8. Mifflin County plays today at 3 p.m. against Altoona. Altoona lost to Broomall-Newtown on Wednesday, 12-10.

The wall turned out to be Robb Watson.

Watson came in relief after the third inning and shut off the Mifflin County bats. He held Mifflin County hitless over the last four innings. Watson struck out nine and walked six.

“We hit good for the first part of the game,” Ryan Swineford, the assistant coach for Mifflin County said, “but then we just quit hitting.”

It didn’t take long for Mifflin County to get on the scoreboard. Tyler Hunter drew a walk and then Brayden Swineford hit a home run over the left field fence. The Tri-Township left fielder made a great play on the ball as he flipped over the fence trying to save the home run.

Mifflin County added three more runs in the second inning as Hunter ripped a three-run double.

In the third, Mifflin County put together three runs on four hits. Gavin Portzline singled and Anson Wagner followed with a double.

Darion Molek reached on a fielder’s choice forcing in one run and then Drake Schaeffer and Isaiah Alters each had RBI base hits.

But, Tri-Township was scoring at the same rate as Mifflin County. Tri-Township scored three times in the second inning and added four more runs in the third inning.

It stayed 8-7 until the sixth inning when Derek Bound and Nick Carter had RBI singles.

Then in the top of the seventh, Tri-Township put the game away as it scored three times. The big hit came from J.T. Costigan, who had a two run single.

Mifflin County used four pitchers and they combined to give up eight walks. Wagner got the start and pitched into the third inning. Molek came in relief and finished the third and had two shutout innings.

But he allowed two runs in the sixth and took the loss. Cody Bickhart came after Molek, but he couldn’t finish and Dylan Zellers finally closed out the game.

Tri-Township finished with 12 hits. Mifflin County had nine hits and three of them went for extra bases. Along with Swineford’s home run and Wagner’s double, Rylan Bailey smashesd a triple in the first inning.

“We gave up too many walks,” Swineford said, “and we had too manymental mistakes. We are a good ball club, but can’t make mistakes at this level.”

NOTES: Mifflin County’s record against Tri-Township is now 6-6. … The game last three hours and five minutes. … In opening games in the 15-year-old bracket since 1968 (when double elimianation play started), Mifflin County is now 27-14. … Mifflin County lost to Tri-Township in the 13-year-old tournament in Altoona in 2017 when this team was 13 by four runs, 4-0.