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Mifflin County cruises past Huntingdon

11-run inning powers MC in 14-4 victory

Sentinel photo by WILLIAM WHISLER
Huntingdon’s Seth Smith slides into home plate as Mifflin County catcher Jaxson Pupo catches the throw to the plate on Thursday night in an Independent League baseball contest at Armagh Field. Pupo finished the night with three RBIs at the plate in a 14-4 victory.

MILROY — After feeling the sting of a late one-run loss earlier in the week, Mifflin County showed that Tuesday evening’s misfortune was a distant memory.

Mifflin County woke up the bats early and often, erupting for 11 runs in the third inning of a 14-4 drubbing of Huntingdon in five innings in an Independent League baseball contest on Thursday evening at Armagh Field.

Mifflin County (8-1) batted around in the inning and a three-run double by Holden Yocum opened the flood gates as Ethan Eichhorn, Rylan Bailey and Cole Schlegel scored on the play.

Brando Souders led Mifflin County with four RBIs, while Jaxson Pupo and Yocum each drove in three runs. Schlegel and Rylan Bailey also added RBIs in the victory.

“Everyone contributed,” Mifflin County coach John McGonigle said. “They were seeing good pitches and made the most out of the pitches that they were seeing. It was tough, that pitcher definitely kept us guessing after the first couple of innings but the guys caught on by staying back and they were hitting the ball hard and putting it in play. When you put the ball in play, good things happen.”

Sentinel photo by WILLIAM WHISLER
Mifflin County’s Bryce Dobson drives a pitch into left field during an Independent League baseball contest in Milroy. Dobson leads Mifflin County with 16 RBIs.

Mifflin County started things early, tagging Huntingdon starter Brady Handy for two runs in the opening frame, as Colby Bodtorf worked a lead-off walk and stole second before Pupo singled to left to score him. Mifflin County added two more in the first on RBI singles by Bailey and Schlegel.

The lead was more than enough for Gavin Busch, who mixed in all of his pitches effectively, surrendering just one hit in 3.2 innings of work. Busch gave up two runs on an RBI single by Gavin Woodward in the third, but kept Huntingdon (3-6) off the board otherwise. Zach Williams was also effective in relief.

Busch did give up walks, but pitched well to contact to strand five baserunners.

“Gavin threw really well tonight,” McGonigle said. “Command-wise he was a little bit off at times, but overall he threw really well. He was able to grind out some innings there. We kept him at 64 pitches, so we got him where we wanted him and he let the guys behind him do the work. There were a lot of balls that were hit hard but at people. The guys backed him up well tonight for the most part, so when you have confidence in that defense, you’re going to have better command and throw more strikes.”

The run support came in droves in the third, as Mifflin County sent 16 batters to plate, scoring 11 runs on six hits and two errors.

Souders opened the scoring, lacing a double down the left field foul-line for a three-run double, scoring Bailey and Schlegel who were hit by pitches in consecutive at-bats. Souders later scored on a passed ball.

Pupo added to the scoring, driving a two-run single to score Bodtorf and Bryce Dobson to give Mifflin County a 9-2 edge.

“I think we all held our heads high together at the game today,” Pupo said. “It’s really about getting up there at the plate and being aggressive, sitting on the fastball and adjusting to the curve. The pitcher showed a lot of offspeed today and I think that we adjusted really well. Really it’s all about being humble up there, starting fresh and that’s really what it takes.”

Schlegel’s RBI bloop-single to right and Yocum’s three-run double made it 13-2. Souders added the 14th run of the night after he reached on a fielder’s choice.

“We are just a really good team,” Yocum said. “We get together, our heads are down and we swing the bat and hit hard. We don’t stop and we don’t back down. We play as a family and there’s nothing more you can ask for. We are all brothers here and we play the game whole-heartedly. We never stop.”

McGonigle was proud of the way his team has continued to swing the bats well, using timely hitting to put the game away early.

“These guys rally around each other all the time,” McGonigle said. “They are there for each other and they pick each other up. There is a very good group of guys that just care about each other. They want to do what’s best for the team and contribute in anyway possible and that’s what they were able to do.”

The contributions throughout the lineup didn’t hurt either. All nine starters reached base in the game for Mifflin County.

“You look at our lineup and we have a good crew from top to bottom and we have some guys off the bench that can contribute as well,” McGonigle said. “When you get that secondary scoring, that helps out a lot. We got that out of a lot of different guys and anytime they can contribute, they are excited to do so.”

Pupo has been on fire in the three-spot in the Mifflin County lineup in recent weeks, as his .481 average is second on the team, trailing only Bodtorf, who is hitting .483. Bodtorf, Dobson and Pupo are all hitting above .400, with Dobson hitting .414 with a team-high 16 RBIs.

Pupo credits the group’s success to the chemistry they’ve gained playing baseball together the past few years.

I think just playing through Little League up, we’ve done really well,” he said. “We are brothers out there and it’s all about rallying. We keep our heads up, we give each other confidence before an at-bat and that goes a long way out there.”

The sting of the loss to Tyrone was still looming before the game, but now Mifflin County sets its sights on Mount Union, who comes to town on Sunday night.

“Tuesday night left a sour taste in the boys mouth and they wanted to come out and pick up where they left off for the most part, but they wanted to keep progressing throughout the game,” McGonigle said. “They definitely stepped up tonight in more than one way. Hitting is contagious and they definitely did a nice job there. They were able to do that all night long.”

Yocum concurs.

“It did kind of suck,” he said. “We thought about it and we decided that we wanted to come out and kick some butt. We wanted to make a statement that we’re one of the best here and we went out and did what we do best. Now we just have to be ready to go on Sunday.”

Mifflin County 14, Huntingdon 4 (5 Innings)

Mifflin County 3011 00 — 14 12 1

Huntingdon 002 02 — 4 3 3

WP: Gavin Busch. LP: Brady Handy. SO: Busch 1 (MC); Brady Handy 1 (H). BB: Busch 5, Zach Williams 1 (MC); Handy 5 (H). 2B: Jaxson Pupo, Brando Souders, Holden Yocum (MC); Mason Patterson (H). MH: Colby Bodtorf 2-3, Pupo 3-3, Cole Schlegel 2-3 (MC). RBI: Souders 4, Pupo 3,Yocum 3, Schlegel 2, Rylan Bailey (MC); Gavin Woodward 2, Mason Patterson (H).

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