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Blue Raider baseball holds on for pair of wins

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 4/17/19

Middletown’s baseball team ran its winning streak to four straight following a pair of victories last week.

The streak remained intact after Friday’s non-divisional game at Bishop …

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Blue Raider baseball holds on for pair of wins

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Middletown’s baseball team ran its winning streak to four straight following a pair of victories last week.

The streak remained intact after Friday’s non-divisional game at Bishop McDevitt was postponed due to rain, leaving the Raiders at 4-3 on the season.

The two wins last week were similar in multiple ways. First, they both came within the Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division. Second, both started off looking like comfortable decisions for the Blue Raiders. Following early leads, both contests ended up going right down to the final out. Third, both wins showed that the Middletown nine could finish what they started.

On April 8 at home, the Blue Raiders held on for a 6-5 triumph over visiting Trinity. And, on Wednesday, the Raiders again had to hold on at the end for a 7-6 decision at West Perry. While the Raiders are anything but consistent, the wins still were satisfying for the players and coaches.

Middletown 6, Trinity 5

The game with Trinity was one that coach Mike Lupia and his assistants expected to win.

And, after leading 6-2 after four innings, it appeared as if the Middletown team was heading towards a solid victory. But the Shamrocks scored a single run in the fifth and added two more in the sixth to make it a one-run game and cause some major concern on the home side.

The tension mounted after the Raiders came up empty in the home half of the sixth. But a strong finish on the mound by Garrett Miller, along with solid defensive play, ended the threat and secured the victory.

After starter Brady Keyser sat down the Shamrocks in order to start the game, the Middletown offense scored 4 runs in the home half of the first inning to grab the early lead.

With two outs and Scott Ash on third following a walk, stolen base and a balk by Trinity pitcher Andrew Root, Ray Truntz also drew a base on balls to put two runners on base. Truntz stole second with Miller in the batter’s box. Miller’s infield single and a fielding error pushed in both runners for a 2-0 lead.

Cam Peters then was safe on an error that allowed Miller to score the third run. The next man up was Jaxson Senior, who laced an 0-2 pitch to right for an RBI double for run No. 4.

Keyser had another 1-2-3 inning in the second, but so, too, did Root for the Shamrocks. Trinity broke into the scoring column with a pair of runs in the top of the third, getting three hits off of Keyser, a pair of singles and a double by Maika Nui. A pair of hit batsmen loaded the bases with two outs, but Keyser avoided more trouble by inducing a pop-up for the third out.

The Raiders added a run in the bottom of the third when Tim Wagner’s leadoff double was rewarded via a two-out single up the middle by Peters.

The home team padded its lead to 6-2 in the home half of the fourth following another 1-2-3 inning by Keyser. Justin Yohn led off the inning with a single to right and stole second before racing home on an RBI single by Avery Williams with two outs.

Trinity picked up its third run in the top of the fifth to make it a 6-3 game. In the bottom of the frame, Truntz’s lead off single went unrewarded, and the score stood with the Raiders leading by 3 runs.

Trinity led off the sixth with a single and added another with one out to put two runners on base. An error on a misplayed shallow fly ball between center and right loaded the bases with Shamrocks.

Keyser struck out Luke Pastor for the second out before being relieved by Miller. But another miscue, this one coming on a passed ball and throwing error, allowed two runners to score to make it a one-run game. But a rundown between first and second on the play produced the third out.

Wanting to pick up an insurance run, the Middletown offense instead was shut down. The score held at 6-5 heading into the top of the seventh. Miller and the defense saved the day with a 1-2-3 inning, the outs secured on a pop-up to Senior at second base, a line-out to Williams at third and a ground-out aided by a good scoop at first by Peters.

Middletown 7, West Perry 6

Baseball wins at West Perry have been few and far between, and the April 10 road trip to Perry County posed lots of questions for the Blue Raiders.

But a surprisingly good start that saw the Raiders score 4 runs in the first inning and shed a different light on the Capital Division contest. Later, when the Blue Raiders climbed to a 7-1 advantage, it appeared as if the Middletown nine was heading to an easy victory.

But the game took a dramatic turn in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Mustangs rallied for 5 runs. It took a clutch finish from reliever Michael Tuffy and his defensive mates for the Raiders to hold on for the tense 7-6 triumph.

Middletown pitcher Scott Ash went the first two innings but did not start the third, leaving the game with a sore arm and his team leading 4-1. Garrett Miller pitched the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings and one-third of the seventh before the Mustangs started their rally. Tony Powell pitched to two batters in the seventh before Tuffy took over and held on for the save.

While the finish was too close for comfort, the start was good. With two outs in the first, Wagner walked, Truntz singled and Miller stroked an RBI single for the first run. Another single by Peters drove in two runs and the fourth came when Powell was safe on an error that allowed Peters to score.

West Perry scored a single run in the home half of the second stanza on a bases loaded walk to make it a 4-1 game.

In the top of the fourth, the Blue Raiders plated two more runs to push their lead to 6-1. Powell led off with a walk and made it to second on an errant pickoff attempt. With two outs, Wagner and Truntz walked to load the bases. Miller’s clean single to center drove in the two runs.

West Perry put two runners on base in the bottom of the frame, but Miller pitched his way out of trouble, getting a pop-out and ground-out to end the threat. The 6-1 score held through the fifth inning before the Raiders picked up another run in the top of the sixth.

Little did anyone know how important that run would turn out to be. Ash led off the inning with a triple to left field and scored on a sacrifice fly by Wagner.

Miller faced just four batters in the bottom of the sixth to keep the score at 7-1.

In the top of the seventh, Miller led off with a single but was left stranded. After getting the leadoff batter on a fly ball to right, it appeared as if the Raiders were in good shape for a win.

But three straight singles loaded the bases for the Mustangs, changing that scenario in a hurry. West Perry’s Aiden Russell walked on four pitches by Powell to force in one run and a passed ball allowed the second run to score.

Tuffy, in relief, walked in another run to make it a 7-4 game, and a fielder’s choice ground ball allowed another run to close the gap to 7-5.

With two outs, a bad hop on a hard grounder let in run No. 6 for the Mustangs, adding to the already tense game. But Tuffy, facing a full count, got West Perry’s No. 4 hitter Matt Chiccini on a pop-up to shortstop to end the rally and lock up the win.