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BASEBALL: Raiders beat Trinity, claim final district postseason spot

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The Middletown varsity baseball team attained its goal of earning a spot in the District 3 Class AAA playoffs last week, but just barely.

After retaining the No. 12 spot in the power rankings with a 7-0 victory over Trinity on Monday, May 11, the Blue Raiders (11-9) were dealt an unsettling setback in a 1-0, extra-inning loss to Greencastle-Antrim on Tuesday, May 12 that dropped them out of the postseason picture. With the top 16 teams qualifying for district play, the loss dropped the Raiders to the 17th spot and threatened to end their season earlier than they wanted.  

But the team got some help when Northeastern lost its final game on Wednesday, May 13, which moved the Raiders up to No. 16 and extended their season to playoff week.  The only problem there, however, is that the No. 16 seed gets matched up with No. 1 in the first round.

So the Raiders were scheduled to face No. 1 Shippensburg (16-4) on the Greyhounds’ home field on Monday, May 18 to start the week.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 May 2015 15:42

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Four MAHS athletes commit to colleges

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Four Middletown Area High School will continue their athletic careers in college next year.

Three students have signed letters of intent to play sports at college next year, while a fourth will become a member of a college's cheerleading squad.

Harry Kapenstein committed to play tennis at Penn State Harrisburg, Kyle Finsterbush committed to play soccer at Millersville University and Jeyliane Rivera committed to play basketball at York College. Morgan Taylor Light will become a member of the cheerleading squad at Penn State Altoona.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 May 2015 08:51

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Forty LD students to play college sports

Lower Dauphin High School recognized 40 students who will be participating in a sport in college during a ceremony in the school gymnasium.

 “Please continue to study hard, train hard and play hard,'' David Bitting, Lower Dauphin's athletic director, told them during the ceremony. “The challenges that lie ahead are many and I am confident the training and coaching you have received at Lower Dauphin have prepared you to face these head-on.”

The students and their future colleges are:

Baseball – Blair Lewis, Pittsburgh and Michael Wilhite, Eastern Mennonite

Basketball, Men – Tommy Bowen, Wilkes

Basketball, Women – Leah Gamber, Elizabethtown

Football – Alex Dean, Westminster; Adam Domovich, Lebanon Valley; and Kyle Walker, Lebanon Valley

Field Hockey – Morgan Bitting, Duke; Taylor Bracale, James Madison; Gini Bramley, Penn State; Ashley Ceschini, East Stroudsburg; Mariena Decker, Mercyhurst; Joely Helder, St. Joseph's; Marissa Hoffman, Stevenson; Abby Julius, Liberty; Aliza Mizak, Millersville; Maddie O'Neill, Michigan State; and Casey Schankweiler, Stevenson

Golf – Tyler Maiman, West Chester

Gymnastics – Morgan Fridey, Ball State and Maggie Tamburro, North Carolina State

Lacrosse, Men – Justin Guevarez, Alvernia and Nick Mattis, Frostburg State

Lacrosse, Women – Kenzie Kelley, Lebanon Valley and Julia Mazich, Washington and Jefferson

Softball – Shelby Alcorn, Hood

Soccer, Men – Cory Burkhardt, Seton Hall and Spencer Burkhardt, Seton Hall

Soccer, Women – Nicole Boyd, Elizabethtown; Bianca Gillman, Mount St. Mary's; Madie Light, American; Shayna Macfarlane, Mount St. Mary's; and Christina Yarrish, Goucher

Swimming – Zach Lauer, Washington and Jefferson; Austin Schwartz, Wake Forest; and Caleb Walters, Delaware

Track and Field/Cross Country – Sean Weidner, Lock Haven

Track and Field – Ben Ross, St. Francis and Adam Zeiders, Shippensburg
Wrestling – Lee Cassel, Messiah

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 May 2015 15:27

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BASEBALL: Raiders beat McDevitt, Susquehanna, close in on postseason spot

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The six-day period of Monday, May 3 through Friday, May 8 turned out to be an eventful, up-and down-and-back-up-again stretch for the Middletown varsity baseball team in more ways than one.  

The upswing started with a 1-0 victory at Bishop McDevitt on Monday and ended with a 7-0 win over visiting Susquehanna Twp. on Thursday, May 7. In between, the Blue Raiders dropped a tough 4-3 extra-inning contest at Central Dauphin East.

The win over McDevitt (10-9, 8-8 in the Mid-Penn Conference's Keystone Division) jumped the Raiders (10-8, 8-8) to the No. 13 spot in the District 3 Class AAA power rankings – and the top 16 teams qualify for the playoffs. But the loss at Central Dauphin East (11-9, 9-7) dropped the Raiders back to No. 17 and put a damper on their post-season playoff hopes.

However, the triumph over Susquehanna Twp. (4-16, 3-13) vaulted the Middletown squad all the way up to No. 12 in the rankings and pushed the Raiders right back into the playoff picture with two regular-season games remaining.

Middletown 1, Bishop McDevitt 0

In a tense matchup with division rival Bishop McDevitt on Monday, the Blue Raiders eked out a well-earned victory.

With pitcher Nathan Ocker and the Middletown defense holding the Crusaders in check throughout the game, the Raiders manufactured the game’s only run in the top of the sixth inning.  

The game started off on the right foot for the Raiders when Brett Altland led off with a single and Bubba Finsterbush followed with a double to left field.  But right before Finsterbush’s hit, Altland was out at second on an attempted steal, taking away a potential run.

Those two hits forced McDevitt’s coach to pull his starting pitcher right away and reliever Brett Bitting got out of the inning without giving up a run.

From that point on it became a pitcher’s duel.  

After giving up a leadoff bloop single, Ocker retired seven straight Crusader batters before yielding a one-out single in the third inning. At the same time, Bitting set down six Raider batters in a row before Finsterbush singled to lead off the fourth inning.

The scoreless tie was finally broken in the top of the sixth inning after Middletown's Brandon Harper led off with a single to left.  Altland’s sacrifice bunt moved Harper to second and Finsterbush’s third hit of the game drove in Harper for what turned out to be the lone run of the contest.

A two-out double by McDevitt’s Dylan Spiegel in the home half of the sixth inning went unrewarded as Ocker recorded his 13th strikeout of the game.  

The Raiders put two runners on base in the top of the seventh inning on a single by Zack Sims and a bunt by Ocker. Both runners were stranded, howver, giving the host team a chance to pull out a late win.

But Ocker sat down Bitting and pinch hitter Tommy Repa on back-to-back strikeouts and induced a groundout to short for the final out to lock down the win. Ocker finished with 15 strikeouts in the game.

C. D. East 4, Middletown 3 (10 innings)

It took 10 innings to settle the division clash at Central Dauphin East on Tuesday, a tight game that the host Panthers won with one out in the bottom of the third extra session.

Although more runs were scored in the game than in the McDevitt clash, another very good pitcher’s duel took place, this time between Middletown’s Sims and East’s Quinton Heckard.  

Sims went nine innings and recorded 16 strikeouts but got a no-decision, leaving the game with the score deadlocked at 3-3.  Heckard did not figure in on the decision, either, after being replaced in the 10th inning by reliever
Stephen McInturff.  

The Panthers scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning on a bloop single that drove in Andy Pineda from third.

The Raiders scored all three of their runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 3-1 lead. With one out, Finsterbush tripled to right center, just beating the relay throw to third on the play.  After Ethan Kell walked to put runners at the corners, Sims singled to right to knock in the first run. Ocker’s sacrifice bunt brought courtesy runner Brendan Dintiman home for run No. 2 and Jordan Flowers followed with a run-scoring single that brought home Blake Jacoby.

That lead held up until the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Panthers scored twice to knot the score at 3-3.

With the pitching and defenses controlling the action, the 3-3 deadlock carried through regulation and two more innings.

The Raiders threatened in the top of the tenth inning on back-to-back, one-out singles by Jimmy Fitzpatrick and Harper. With two outs, Finsterbush was robbed of a potential run-scoring hit by a leaping catch by East’s center fielder.

In the home half of the 10th inning, the Panthers scored the winning run. With the Middletown infield drawn in playing for a bunt and a runner on second, an infield hit that neither Finsterbush at third nor Sims at shortstop could make a play on brought home the game-winner.

Middletown 7, Susquehanna Twp. 0

Ten seniors on the roster, 10 spots on the lineup card (including designated hitter) and honors for all 10 prior to the start of the game turned out to be the right combination as the Raiders recorded their 10th victory of the season on Thursday.

The Raiders scored two runs in the first inning, one each in the second, third and fourth frames and two more in the sixth to lock down the Keystone Division finale.

Flowers picked up the pitching victory after going six full innings with six strikeouts while yielding just three hits and two walks in the shutout.  He also benefited from a double play in the third and a defense that committed no errors.  

Altland led off the home half of the first inning with a double and came home on a triple to center by Finsterbush. Kell’s run-scoring single made it a 2-0 game.

Evan Florence drew a lead-off walk to start the bottom of the second inning, went to third on Altland’s one-out single and scored on Finsterbush’s hard shot between first and second. The inning ended with the Raiders leading by a 3-0 count.

The defense turned the Flowers-to-Sims-to Florence double play following a lead-off walk by the Indians in the top of the third inning.  

The Raiders plated another run in the bottom of the third inning. Sims was safe on an error to lead it off and went to second on Ocker’s sacrifice bunt. Flowers’ triple to right made it a 4-0 game.

Noah Zimmerman’s two-out infield single drove in Finsterbush for run No. 5 in the home half of the fourth inning.

The Indians threatened in the top of the fifth inning with a pair of two-out singles but a force at second ended their best chance to score.  

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Finsterbush was hit by a pitch and Kell doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. After Sims just missed hitting a home run – his drive landed foul about 15 feet wide in left – he and Harper went down on strikes. But Flowers knocked in the final two runs with a double to left center.

With a 7-0 cushion to work with, Middletown reliever Johan Sanchez-Padilla struck out the side in the top of the seventh inning on just 14 pitches to secure the shutout.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 12:29

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UPSET: Middletown tennis duo ousts No. 4 seed in District 3 doubles championships

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The Middletown duo of Harry Kapenstein and Eric Belles may have made school history at the District 3 Class AA tennis championships.

Kapenstein and Belles upset the fourth-seeded doubles team in the district on Friday, May 8 at the Hershey Racquet Club, believed to be the first victory by a Middletown doubles team in the district championships. The school has not kept accurate records over the years.

Kapenstein and Belles eliminated the No. 4 team of Elliot Diehl and Michael Peck of York Suburban in an epic three-set victory before losing in the quarterfinals, where they were finally ousted.

In their first match, the Middletown duo's serve was broken early by Diehl and Peck, but the Blue Raider team responded by breaking York Suburban's serve late in the first set. The Raiders held serve to tie the first set at 6-6, forcing a tiebreaker. Middletown won the tiebreaker, 7-4 to claim the first set.

The second set didn't go as well for Kapenstein and Belles, as the York Suburban team fought back for an easy 6-3 win to send the match to a third set.

With some timely advice from their coach, Lynn Miller, Kapenstein and Belles regrouped and flipped their 3-6 loss in the second set into a 6-3 win to upset the No. 4 seed.

After hugs, celebration with a large contingent of Middletown fans and picture-taking, the Middletown duo had only 30 minutes to get ready for their next match. It proved difficult to come down from that high of winning and focus on the task ahead – Fleetwood's Tom Pagnelli and Christen Melendez.

Kapenstein and Belles lost the match, 6-1, 6-4, falling behind quickly before bouncing back in the second set to make it interesting.

The Middletown tennis team, which has seen rare success in the past, enjoyed a spectacular season in 2015. Kapenstein, the Raiders' No. 1 singles player, became the first Middletown singles player to qualify for the District 3 singles championships by finishing third in the Mid-Penn Conference tournament. Kapenstein was ousted from the district tournament in the first round by Sebastian Pena of Lancaster Country Day, 6-0, 6-1.

Belles finished second in the No. 2 singles tournament in the Mid-Penn Conference championships, While teammate Matt Anthony won the No. 3 singles tournament and a gold medal.

Kapenstein, a senior, ended his career at Middletown with a 24-12 singles record during the past two seasons. Anthony, also a senior, finished his career with a 15-3 record.

Belles finished the season with a 14-5 singles record and is likely to replace Kapenstein as Middletown's No. 1 singles player next year.

Middletown finished the season with an 11-5 record, narrowly missing a spot in the District 3 Class AA team tennis championships.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 12:16

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