Raiders salvage bad week with 2-0 win over Hershey
Middletown Coach Mike Carnes was not having a good week. Some minor situations in his personal life, dealing with some difficulties at his job as assistant principal at the high school, and a pair of baseball losses had Carnes looking for some …
Raiders salvage bad week with 2-0 win over Hershey
Smiling broadly following Middletown’s 2-0 triumph over the Trojans, Carnes felt much better. “That was a great win for us,” he said, reflecting on the efforts of his squad, now 4-4.
Carnes starts just two seniors in his game-day lineup (third baseman Dylan Bower and outfielder Eddie Finsterbush) along with a couple juniors. The remainder of his starting group are sophomores.
So far, the team has played well and now has recorded wins over Susquehanna Twp., Palmyra, Mechanicsburg and Hershey.
“We’re not hitting very well, but our pitching and defense has been really good,” Carnes said.
The Blue Raiders will be tested during the next two weeks, however, with six games scheduled during a 10-day span.
Middletown 2, Hershey 0
Sophomore righthander Nathan Ocker drew the start against Hershey and pitching ace Zach Drayer at the breezy Middletown sports complex. And the two did not disappoint, as they staged a very good pitching duel throughout the Keystone Division contest.
Although Drayer struck out 11 Middletown batters and yielded just two hits, Ocker nearly matched those numbers with 7 strikeouts while also allowing just a pair of Trojan hits in the victory.
Along the way the Raiders manufactured the only two runs of the game.
Following a hitless first inning – both Ocker and Drayer set down their opponents in order – the Trojans put the first two batters on base on an error and bloop single to start the second. But catcher Cody Fox threw out Eric Marrero on a steal attempt at third, and then did the same to Vinny Pasquini at second following Ocker’s strikeout of Zach Warren, ending the threat.
The Raiders went down in order in the bottom of the second and third frames, as did the Trojans in the third and fourth.
With two outs in the home half of the fourth inning, Middletown’s Jordan Flowers singled and stole second to set up the game’s first run. Flowers scored from second when Nick Drawbaugh was safe on an error, giving the Raiders a 1-0 lead.
With solid defensive work behind him, Ocker limited the Trojans to one hit and a walk through the fifth and sixth frames as the Raiders held on to their lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Raiders picked up an insurance run. Fox led off with a walk and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Finsterbush. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Fox raced home on a clutch sacrifice fly by Flowers.
With the 2-0 lead in their hands, the Raiders needed just three more outs in the top of the seventh to lock down the win. Ocker was still in command of his pitches, and Bower, the third baseman, made a great stop on a hot grounder by Kevin Kremer – and first baseman Drawbaugh made an important scoop of his throw – to get Hershey’s leadoff batter.
Marrero took a called third strike for out No. 2 and Ocker induced a soft grounder back to the mound for an easy toss to first to ice the big victory.
Shippensburg 3, Middletown 0
The Raiders hosted non-divisional opponent Shippensburg at home on Monday, April 8. Heading into the game Carnes was not sure how his team would fare against the Greyhounds, who are having a good season. Following the loss, Carnes was disappointed with the outcome.
“That was a winnable game for us, but we just couldn’t come up with the hits to do it,” he said. “We’re only batting .209 as a team and that hurt us.”
Despite a pretty good pitching effort from Drawbaugh, who threw six innings, the visitors were able to produce all three of their runs in the first two innings, enough to hold on for the win.
Drawbaugh scattered 7 hits during his stint on the mound but was able to hold the Greyhounds to the three runs. He recorded 7 strikeouts in the game.
Drawbaugh got into a bit of trouble right from the start as Shippensburg loaded the bases on an error, a single and a walk with no outs. A one-out fielder’s choice pushed in the first run before Drawbaugh ended the inning with his second strikeout.
In the bottom of the first, Middletown’s Zach Sims ripped a two-out double to left but overran the bag and was picked off trying to get back, ending the early Raider threat.
In the second inning, the Greyhounds parlayed a leadoff double and a pair of singles into a 3-0 lead. Shippensburg threatened to pad its lead in the third and fourth innings but Drawbaugh and the defense prohibited further damage.
After Fox came on in relief in the top of the seventh and kept the score unchanged, the Raiders tried to rally in the bottom of the final frame. Sims led off with an infield single, made it to second on a passed ball and went to third on a one-out hit by Flowers. With two outs, Middletown’s Ethan Kell walked to load the bases, but the rally died on Fox’s groundout.
Bishop McDevitt 4
On Tuesday, April 9 at Penbrook, the host Bishop McDevitt Crusaders scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and two more in the home half of the third to post a 4-0 lead over the Raiders.
The Middletown nine came back with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth and threatened in the sixth and seventh innings but could not come up with the clutch hits needed to pull out a win.
Sims took the hard-luck loss despite fanning 7 McDevitt batters. He also yielded 7 hits in his six innings of work.
McDevitt’s Noah Spangler drove in the first runs with a 2-run single with two outs in the bottom of the first to stake the hosts to the early lead. A pair of singles and a Middletown error in the third led to the other two McDevitt runs.
Trailing 4-0 in the top of the fifth inning, the Raiders finally got the offense moving. Bower led off the frame with a double down the left field line. After Kyle Finsterbush singled and moved Bower to third, Ryan Popp’s one-out fielder’s choice drove in Bower for the first run. Flowers knocked in Finsterbush for the second run.
With two outs, Drawbaugh singled and Sims walked to load the bases. But Spangler struck out Ocker to stop the Raiders from adding more runs.
After three straight singles loaded the bases with Crusaders in the bottom of the fifth, Sims pitched his way out of trouble, inducing a double-play grounder and getting another groundout to turn back the McDevitt threat.
The Raiders put a pair of runners on base off a McDevitt error and single by Fox in the top of the sixth, but again the Middletown nine was denied.
And in the top of the seventh, a pair of walks again gave the Raiders another opportunity to extend the game. But a fielder’s choice force-out at second closed out the win for McDevitt.
Larry Etter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org