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Raiders rally to beat EP, top Cougars, fall to Falcons in clash for first place

Posted 4/23/13

A disappointing 10-0 loss to Lower Dauphin ends an otherwise good week


The Middletown varsity baseball team rallied to a 5-4 triumph over East Pennsboro on Monday, April 15 and followed that win with a five-inning, 12-0 romp over …

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Raiders rally to beat EP, top Cougars, fall to Falcons in clash for first place


single4 24 13Photos by Jodi Ocker Middletown’s Ryan Popp lines a game-winning RBI single in the sixth inning of the Blue Raiders’ 5-4 victory over East Pennsboro.But the week ended with a disappointing loss to Lower Dauphin on Thursday, April 18 in a battle for first place in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference.

Now, just past the halfway point of the season, the Blue Raiders own a 6-5 record overall, 5-2 in the division, and are in 15th place in the current District 3 Class AAA power rankings. Lower Dauphin was 8-4 overall, 6-1 in the division and in 10th place in the District 3 Class AAAA rankings.

Round two of divisional play was scheduled to start this week.  



Middletown 5
East Pennsboro 4

In a nondivisional matchup with visiting East Pennsboro on Monday, the Raiders fell behind by a 4-0 score after 5-1/2 innings and appeared to be on their way to their second loss of the season to the Panthers.

But a big, pivotal offensive rally in the bottom of the sixth inning completely turned the game around and led to a pleasing 5-4 victory for the Middletown nine.  

Starting pitcher Nick Drawbaugh, a junior right-hander, made it safely through the game’s first two innings but was touched for a pair of East Pennsboro runs in the top half of the third frame to fall behind 2-0.

A fielding error, single, sacrifice bunt and an RBI groundout produced the first run for the visitors. Another error keyed the second run.

The Panthers scored again in the top of the fifth frame on another fielder’s choice groundout and padded their lead to 4-0 on an RBI double in the top of the sixth.  

Scoreless through the first five innings after leaving seven runners stranded on the bases, the Raiders finally broke the ice in the bottom of the sixth.

Drawbaugh and Zack Sims got the rally started by drawing walks to lead off the inning. After Sims was forced out at second on a ground ball by designated hitter Ethan Kell, Eddie Finsterbush stroked a clean single that knocked in pinch runner Kyle Finsterbush from third for the first run. Dylan Bower followed with a run scoring single for run No. 2.  

Nathan Ocker then ripped a double down the left field line, driving in Eddie Finsterbush and Bower to tie the game at 4-4.

With two outs, Middletown’s Ryan Popp singled up the middle allowing courtesy runner Eddie Arnold to score the go-ahead run that completed the rally.

All that was needed now was for the defense to get the final three outs of the game to secure the win.

Sims took over on the mound in relief of Drawbaugh and got the all-important first out on a lineout to Drawbaugh at first base. Sims then struck out East Penn’s Cody Hollingsworth on three pitches for out No. 2 and followed that up with another three-pitch strikeout of Grayson Miller to ice the victory.  

Middletown 12
Harrisburg 0

Winless Harrisburg visited Middletown on Tuesday in a Keystone Division contest that the Raiders were pretty much expected to win. But the struggling Cougars got off to a decent start, especially with their pitching and defense, and played the Raiders to a 0-0 standoff after two innings of play.

tagged4 24 13Middletown catcher Cody Fox, left, is tagged out at second base by Lower Dauphin’s Kaylor Kulina (5), in an attempt to steal a base.The game, however, took a decided turn in the bottom of the third inning when the Harrisburg defense fell apart and the Middletown squad erupted for 9 runs.

Three more Middletown runs in the fourth inning and a scoreless fifth for the Cougars ended the game early.  

Middletown sophomore Jordan Flowers, on the mound in his first pitching appearance of the season, gave up a leadoff single to start the game, but sat down 14 of the next 15 Harrisburg batters on his way to the win.

Harrisburg pitcher Anthony Washington gave up just a single in the first two innings and got good play from his defense to keep the game scoreless at that point.  But that all changed in the home half of the third.

Ocker led off with a single, but was thrown out at third trying to stretch a passed ball into an extra base with Bower at the plate. But Bower and Brett Altland both reached base on Harrisburg errors and both came home on a two-run single by Cody Fox.

Fox reached third base on another passed ball, and came home on a single by Popp for the third Middletown run.

After stealing second, Popp scored on yet another Harrisburg error on a grounder by Flowers.

Drawbaugh’s infield single moved Flowers to third, and a fielder’s choice that forced Drawbaugh out at second produced run No. 5 for the Raiders.

A ball-four wild pitch with Eddie Finsterbush at the plate allowed Sims to score from third for the sixth run.

Back-to-back doubles by Ocker and Bower accounted for two more Middletown runs and Harrisburg’s fifth error of the inning allowed pinch runner Arnold to score, giving the Raiders a commanding 9-0 lead.

Thanks to a pair of strikeouts by Flowers and a putout throw by Fox to first base, the Cougars went down in order in the top of the fourth.

In the bottom of the fourth frame, the Raiders plated three more runs to put the game out of reach.

Flowers was safe on an error to start the inning and was replaced by courtesy runner Josh Matinchek. Drawbaugh walked but was forced out at second on a ground ball by Sims.  After Sims went to second on a wild pitch by Harrisburg relief pitcher Miguel Santiago, pinch hitter Jerry Kohout was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. With two outs, Bower reached base on yet another fielding miscue by the visitors, allowing Matinchek and Sims to score. Altland’s single drove in Kohout for the 12th Middletown run.  

In the top of the fifth, Flowers struck out Washington, Santiago and Raheem Henderson in order to lock down the shutout victory. Flowers finished with 10 strikeouts in the win.  The Raiders had 8 hits in the game with Ocker and Drawbaugh recording two each.  

Lower Dauphin 10
Middletown 0

Expectations were high as the Raiders took the short road trip to Hummelstown on Thursday with first place in the Keystone Division on the line. But a tough battle for the top spot never materialized as Lower Dauphin broke open a scoreless deadlock in the fourth inning with a demoralizing 9-run outburst that led to an early finish in the clash.

Falcon pitcher Blair Lewis gave up just one hit while recording 8 strikeouts against the Middletown lineup that has struggled with inconsistencies at the plate throughout the first half of the season.  

On the offensive side, Lower Dauphin’s Marshall Kiessling and Jeff Light teamed for five RBI to lead the Falcon attack.

The Falcons recorded 11 hits in the win.

Larry Etter can be reached at larryetter66@gmail.com. 


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