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ONE BAD INNING: Elizabethtown erupts for 6 runs in the fourth to beat the Blue Raiders, 6-3

Posted 3/26/13

Close loss in season debut a “learning experience’’ for Middletown, coach says 

Old Man Winter’s refusal to go away caused some limited on-field practice times and the shift of a first-game site as the new season got underway. But …

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ONE BAD INNING: Elizabethtown erupts for 6 runs in the fourth to beat the Blue Raiders, 6-3


Unfortunately, both teams came up on the short end of scores in a pair of well-played contests.

The varsity team lost an early 2-0 lead and fell to the Bears 6-3. The junior varsity squad also gave up a 3-2 lead in its 5-3 loss. But the coaches from both teams were generally pleased with the efforts of their respective groups.  

Elizabethtown 6, Middletown 3

foxsteal3 27 13 Photos by Jodi Ocker- Middletown catcher Cody Fox steals second base in the top of the fifth, but was stranded.In the varsity game, the Raiders took advantage of a pair of walks,an error and an RBI single to post a 2-0 lead over the Bears in the top of the second inning.

That lead held up until Elizabethtown scored all 6 of its runs in the bottom of the fourth.  The Raiders were held scoreless through the fifth and sixth innings before posting their final run in the top of the seventh.  

Sophomore right-hander Nathan Ocker cruised along through the first three innings before running into problems in that fateful fourth frame. Ocker set the Bears down in order in the first and second innings before yielding his first hit in the third. He finished by recording 5 strikeouts and yielding just three hits in the loss.

Zack Sims pitched the fifth and sixth frames for Middletown (0-1) and registered 5 strikeouts and no hits against the six batters he faced.

In the first inning, Middletown’s Ryan Popp drew a one-out walk and stole second and Nick Drawbaugh was safe on an error, but the two runners were left stranded.

Ocker struck out the first E-town batter and then got a pair of groundouts in the home half of the opening frame.
In the top of the second, Ocker and Eddie Finsterbush started off with back-to-back walks, and the Raiders then pulled off a successful double steal. With one out, Josh Matinchek was safe on an error that allowed courtesy runner Kyle Finsterbush to score the first run.  Cody Fox’s RBI single drove in the second run to give Middletown a 2-0 lead.  

After the Bears (1-0) went down in order in the bottom of the second, the Raiders followed suit in the top of the third.
A one-out single by E-town’s Dylan Szivos broke up Ocker’s no-hitter in the top of the third. But the Bear runner was left stranded at second.

The Raiders went down in order again in the top of the fourth and the Middletown squad held onto its 2-0 lead.  
But the bottom of the frame turned into a nightmare for Ocker and his teammates. A leadoff triple by E-town’s Bryan Mascia started the 6-run outburst for the host team.

“That hit rattled Ocker and he had to face some adversity for it,” Coach Mike Carnes said.  “But he can use it as a learning experience.”

Following the big hit, the next batter was awarded first base on catcher’s interference, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Ocker, who was consistently around the plate with his pitches throughout, gave up his first run on a wild pitch that scored Mascia from third.  

With a number of close pitches not going his way, Ocker walked four straight batters and gave up a single that led to 5 runs by the Bears. Ocker then registered a pair of outs on back-to-back strikeouts before an error on a missed fly ball to centerfield allowed the final Bears run to cross the plate.

Down 6-2 at that point, the Raiders tried to battle back, but a one-out walk and stolen base by Fox in the top of the fifth went unrewarded.  

Sims took the mound in the bottom of the fifth and struck out the first two Bears he faced.  With two outs, third baseman Dylan Bower made a great diving stop and accurate throw to first for the third out to keep the Bears off the base paths.

The Raiders nearly broke out of their scoreless slump in the top of the sixth. Jordan Flowers drew a base on balls with one out and stole second with Ocker at the plate. After Ocker struck out, Eddie Finsterbush walked on five pitches and, after both runners moved up on a wild pitch, Bower worked another walk to load the bases for the Middletown side.  But Matinchek went down swinging to end the threat.

Sims, who worked his fastball effectively against the Bears, struck out the first two E-town batters in the bottom of the sixth and then threw a perfect, two-strike curveball to strike out the third hitter of the inning.

In the top of the seventh, the Raiders got some offense going with two outs in an attempt to rally. Sims laced a sharp single between shortstop and third base to get the mini-rally going.  Drawbaugh followed with a single past second on the right side and Flowers punched out a humpback liner to left to knock in runner Zach Buell from second for Middletown’s third run. But the final out came one batter later and the comeback ended.  

JV: Bears 5, Raiders 3

In the junior varsity game, the young Raiders worked their way to a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning, but saw the lead slip away as the junior Bears came back with a trio of late runs to deny victory for the Middletown side.
“We had that lead in the sixth but couldn’t hold on,” said JV Coach Adam Shaffer.

Still, the coaches were pleased with the effort.

“We played well defensively and didn’t make any mistakes,” Shaffer said.

Larry Etter can be reached at