Lions survive Wildcats
Altoona’s Elliot Mast got hit three times by two Mifflin County pitchers in Monday’s District 6 6A semifinal baseball game at Mansion Park.
“It’s happened before,” Mast said. “It’s been awhile, but it’s nice when you get on base. Those weren’t hits, but they helped the team for sure. I really want to hit and get some RBIs, but it still worked out in the end.”
When he finally got a pitch in the strike zone, Mast came up big for the Mountain Lions.
With the bases loaded and third-seeded Mifflin County holding a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning, Mast pounded a two-run double to left field, giving the second-seeded Lions a lead they didn’t relinquish in a 6-4 victory.
“I was just looking for a pitch to drive,” Mast said. “He hung a curveball, and I drove it the other way.”
“Obviously they didn’t want to give him anything to hit,” Altoona coach Tom Smith said. “In the situation where he doubled, they had to pitch to him. The one time where he got to swing the bat, he came through, which was clutch.”
Its fourth win in a row advanced 11-9 Altoona, which avenged a 6-1 regular-season loss to the Huskies, into the District 6 championship game against State College. That game will be played at 7 p.m. Friday at PNG Field.
“We’re really starting to play as a team now,” Mast said. “I’m really excited to play on Friday night for the D6 championship.”
“We’re very happy to be going to the district finals,” Smith said. “We’re playing our best ball right now, so hopefully we keep it going. We’re going to enjoy it tonight and get back at it tomorrow.”
There was only one earned run in a game in which both teams committed three errors. Altoona’s first run was unearned. Ryan Shope reached on an error to start the third inning, and after Mast got hit for the second time, John Gority moved them both up with a sacrifice bunt. Jarod Kutz, who had two RBIs, plated Shope with a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, the Huskies (8-13) regained the lead with a Brian Yetter sacrifice fly and an error. Altoona pitcher T.J. Becker got out of two-out, second-and-third jam with a strikeout to end the inning.
The Lions loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning on two errors and a single by leadoff hitter Casey Sheetz, who went 3-for-4. Shope worked a walk off of starting pitcher Ross Underhill to force home Becker. And then Mast greeted reliever Drew Westover with his double, scoring Trevor Miller and Sheetz.
“You feel real good that he’s going to at least deliver a sacrifice fly or something,” Smith said, “because, generally, he’s going to hit the ball hard.”
“We thought we were out of the inning. We thought he shouldn’t have even gotten to bat,” Huskies coach Bernie Howard said. “He’s an excellent ball player, and we knew that coming in. He had the big stats, and he lived up to them today.”
Shope was tagged out at home by Westover, who made a great stop and tag on a tapper in front of the mound. But Kutz followed with a single to right to score Mast, making the score 5-3.
Both teams added runs in the fifth. Underhill’s two-out single to center scored Nick Hostetler, but Sheetz plated Jake Plunket with a hit to left field.
The Lions turned in a web gem double play in the sixth to back up reliever Ian Yon, as shortstop Matt Hartman fielded a Cade Attick ground ball up the middle and flipped the ball backhand to second baseman Sheetz. First baseman Gority dug out the low throw to first to completed the double play.
“We needed all three guys to make that happen, and all three guys did the job,” Smith said.
Altoona’s third pitcher, Cole Gibson retired all four batters he faced to end the game.
“We’ve lost our top two pitchers, and we’ve struggled,” Smith said, referring to the injured Braeden Burchfield and Jake Stolarski. “I’m extremely proud of all of our pitchers left on our roster because these guys have had to go out there and perform.”
MIFFLIN COUNTY (4): Bodtorf ss 300, Hostetler cf 421, Maclay c 411, Underhill p-lf 301, Yetter dh 300, Larson lf lf 000, Walker 1b 301, Attick 2b 100, Oburn 3b 200, Cavanaugh rf 201, Smith cr-ph 100, Westover p 000. Totals — 26-4-5.
ALTOONA (6): Sheetz 2b 413, Shope c 210, Mast rf 111, Gority 1b 300, Hand cf 000, Yon p 000, Gibson p 000, Kutz dh 301, Hartman ss 400, Becker p-cf 412, Plunket 3b 412, Miller lf 210. Totals — 27-6-9.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Mifflin County 100 210 0–4 5 3
Altoona 001 410 0–6 9 3
E–Oburn 2, Bodtorf; Hand, Hartman, Miller. 2B–Maclay, Mast. RBI–Underhill, Yetter, Walker; Mast 2, Kutz 2, Sheetz, Shope. SB–Hostetler, Attick, Oburn, Smith. CS–Attick (by Shope). SF–Yetter, Kutz. SAC–Gority. DP–Mifflin County 1, Altoona 1. LOB–Mifflin County 4, Altoona 11. HBP–Attick (by Becker); Mast 3 (two by Underhill, one by Westover)
Mifflin County: Underhill–3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 $, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO; Westover (L)–2 1/3IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1BB, 4 SO.
Altoona: Becker–4 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO; Yon–1ªIP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO; Gibson–1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.
Records: Mifflin County (8-13); Altoona (11-9).