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Blue Raiders baseball team splits 2 games

By Larry Etter, Press & Journal Staff
Posted 4/12/17

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

A four-run sixth inning by the Middletown Blue Raiders paved the way for a 5-2 victory over the host Bishop McDevitt Crusaders on a balmy, made-for-baseball …

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Blue Raiders baseball team splits 2 games


A four-run sixth inning by the Middletown Blue Raiders paved the way for a 5-2 victory over the host Bishop McDevitt Crusaders on a balmy, made-for-baseball day on Monday afternoon.

Middletown took an early 1-0 lead but yielded the tying run in the bottom of the third and the game went through five full innings with the score deadlocked at 1-1.

But in the sixth inning, things changed dramatically for the visitors.

All four of the runs came with two outs, the big hit coming off the bat of Aaron McDevitt (how’s that for irony?) with a bases loaded double. David Alcock drove in McDevitt for the other run that lifted the Raiders to a 5-1 lead.

Starting Middletown right-hander Michael Mattes pitched six innings, picking up the win. Jimmy Fitzpatrick had a one-two-three outing in the bottom of the seventh to earn the save as the Blue Raiders moved to 3-2 on the season.

In the top of the first inning, Noah Zimmerman doubled to center with one out and scored on a clutch RBI single by Richard Castagna off McDevitt starter Joe Pensiero. Mattes sat down the Crusaders in order in both the first and second innings. In between Pensiero recorded three of his six strikeouts to keep the Raiders from adding to their lead. In the home half of the third inning, Max Shroder scored following his leadoff single to tie the game at 1-1.

In the top of the fifth, McDevitt led off for the Raiders with a single to center, but was left stranded. In the bottom of the frame the Middletown defense turned a 4-6-1 double play for two outs and left-fielder Joe Brady gloved a long fly ball to keep the score tied.

With one out in the top of the sixth, Zimmerman stroked a one-out single but had to hold there when a fly ball produced the second out. An error by the Crusaders on Castagna’s ground ball put two runners on. Zimmerman went to third on the play.

Up next was Tristen Maxwell, who was hit by a pitch to load the bases with Middletown runners. McDevitt’s tide-turning double to center on a 1-2 pitch cleared the bases as the Raiders rang up three runs. When Alcock followed with a clean single, McDevitt raced home for run No. 4.

After pinch-hitter Stephen Kleinfelter was hit by a pitch, the home team changed pitchers. Reliever Trystan Housman ended the inning with a fly ball.

Following an error and an infield single to start the home half of the sixth, the Crusaders scored on a fielder’s choice ground ball.

Mattes struck out Mike Cross on four pitches, but another fielding miscue kept the inning alive for the Crusaders. But the threat ended on a force out at second base and the host team trailing 5-2.

Zimmerman walked with one out in the top of the seventh but was left stranded. Fitzpatrick took over on the hill for the Middletown side and quickly produced three straight outs to save the victory for the Raiders. A long fly out to Brady in left field was followed by a pair of strikeouts by Fitzpatrick to end it.

Northern York 6, Middletown 0

Following an exciting victory over Lower Dauphin on Monday, April 3, the Blue Raiders had to travel to Dillsburg on Tuesday to take on Capital Division preseason favorite Northern York. Through five and a half innings, the Raiders were in position to claim their second straight upset win.

But that all changed in the home team’s half of the sixth inning when the Polar Bears scored five runs to take control of a tightly played game. They picked up the win after setting down Middletown in order in the top of the seventh.

Starting pitcher Jimmy Fitzpatrick threw five good innings, limiting the Bears to five hits and one run. But the host team erupted for five hits and the five runs in the fateful sixth inning, four of the runs coming with Fitzpatrick on the mound.

Blake Jacoby took over on the hill for the Raiders and yielded just one hit and one run before getting out of the inning with a ground-ball out. As good as Fitzpatrick was heading into the sixth, Northern pitcher Trent Culver was even better. Culver’s complete game victory included 11 strikeouts and just three hits yielded.

Middletown’s hits came from Richard Castagna (an infield single in the second), a leadoff single by Noah Zimmerman in the fourth, and a two-out single by Jacoby in the sixth.

The Polar Bears broke up a scoreless game with a single run in the home half of the second inning following a leadoff triple by Owen McKeever. Louis Peiffer’s single drove in McKeever but Fitzpatrick and the defense got out of the inning, leaving two Northern runners stranded.

In the top of the third frame, Tristen Maxwell was safe on an error to lead off, but Culver recorded three straight strikeouts to end it. In the top of the fourth Zimmerman led off with a single to right but was forced out at second. The Middletown at-bats ended on a 1-6-3 double play by the Northern defense.

The Raiders went down in order in the top of the fifth, but Fitzpatrick’s pitching and the work of his defense kept the score unchanged through the end of five frames. Jacoby’s two-out single in the top of the sixth and a Northern error that put Zimmerman on base gave the Middletown side a chance to tie the game. But a fielder’s choice ground ball off the bat of Johan Sanchez-Padilla forced Jacoby out at third to end the threat.

Middletown’s hopes were squashed with the five-run output by the host team in the bottom of the sixth. With one out McKeever, Peiffer and Jaret Holford hit consecutive singles to start the rush. Those hits resulted in one run and another hit by Alex Lilja following a wild pitch produced two more runs. Two more hits loaded the bases and a walk brought in the fourth run.

The Bears scored their last run on a sacrifice fly after Jacoby relieved Fitzpatrick. Jacoby’s diving tag at first base ended the inning but the damage had been done.

The Blue Raiders traveled to Camp Hill on Tuesday and are scheduled to play Steel-High on Thursday and Susquehanna Township on Monday, both at home, then at Trinity on Tuesday, April 18.