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Mifflin County Legion escapes with 1-0 victory over up and coming Juniata

By Kenny Varner


LEWISTOWN – Defense and pitching took center stage Monday on VFW 287 night when Juniata County met Mifflin County in American Legion action.

It was a fielders’ dream for most of the afternoon until Mifflin County found a way to make the best of a bad situation, scoring on a suicide squeeze attempt gone wrong, finishing the game with a 1-0 victory.

“We are very athletic and defense has been a very big part of our success this year,” Mifflin County manager Bernie Howard said. “It came to the forefront tonight. We weren’t exactly smoking the ball offensively. Outstanding pitching and good defense will win it for you every time.”

Juniata County had its high moments as well, allowing only three hits on the afternoon while putting four hits in the field offensively.

The game was a fast-paced 1-hour and 20 minute contest, only one player from either side was able to rope more than just a single.

In the fourth, Lucas McKay smashed a deep drive into the centerfield depths, landing at second.

Twice Juniata County was just a hit away from putting runs on the board but the stingy Mifflin County defense came up with a the out when they needed to.

“We were just one hit away from sending this into extra innings,” coach Juniata coach Brian Hart said. “Korey (Martin) did an awesome job for us tonight. He hasn’t pitched since the Line Mountain game last year. This was his first outing since then. We just didn’t get the hits when we needed it. We had the bases loaded one time and that could have went either way. This was a game between two good teams. Mifflin County is one heck of a program. It was nice that we could play with them. We’ve made big improvements from last year. We struggled last year. We were a new team last year and we’ve made big improvements. I am very proud of the guys.”

In the bottom of a scoreless fifth, Mifflin County played some heads-up small ball and manufactured the only run of the ball game.

With one out, John Michael Maclay reached on an Juniata miscue. He moved up to third as his attempt to steal was not in time and the ball went off his leg, allowing him to move up.

Trying to get the run in, Mifflin County attempted a suicide squeeze by Andy Lawson. Lawson got wood on the ball but he popped up to the pitcher, catching Maclay off guard and heading for home. Maclay turned back to third and a hurried throw to third was high and went into the outfield, allowing Maclay to cross home plate with the winning run.

Juniata County had two strong innings offensively, just missing runs of their own.

First, in the top of the fourth and two out, Kyle Hart started a rally posting a single.

Dalton Nealman and Jared Shirk followed with two patient trips to the plate, loading the bases on consecutive walks.

However, Mifflin County was able to post the clutch out, keeping the game scoreless at that time.

Back came the “The Red and Gray” in the top of the fifth once again knocking at the door to get a run.

Joe Davis got the inning off and running blasting a laser shot that bounced off a diving shortstops glove, allowing him to reach first. He then moved up on a fielders’ choice, putting him in scoring position with only one out.

Martin tried to help his own cause, sending Davis to third with a single of his own. However, relief pitcher Jordan Wolfkill stood tall and struck out the next batter and forced a pop up to second, ending the threat.

Ty Bodtorf started the game for Mifflin County and went four innings, allowing just two hits before handing the ball over to Wolfkill. Wolfkill was cool under pressure as he finished off the game, allowing just two hits en route to the victory.

Korey Martin was the hard luck pitcher of record for Juniata County, allowing three hits and no earned runs in the contest.



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