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Blue Raiders have rough week, need wins to make postseason

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 5/8/19

Following a winless streak that reached three games, the Middletown varsity baseball team bounced back with a 14-3 victory over Steelton-Highspire on Wednesday to climb back over the .500 mark at …

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Blue Raiders have rough week, need wins to make postseason

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Following a winless streak that reached three games, the Middletown varsity baseball team bounced back with a 14-3 victory over Steelton-Highspire on Wednesday to climb back over the .500 mark at 7-6.

The win came following the team’s loss at Camp Hill on Monday. But the Blue Raiders slipped back with another loss, this one at Lower Dauphin on Friday, that evened their record at 7-7. The Blue Raiders have lost two each to Mid-Penn Conference division leaders Northern York, East Pennsboro and Camp Hill, and the setback against the Falcons.

Following Wednesday’s win, the Middletown coaches were looking ahead to the final games remaining with the hopes of winning enough to qualify for the playoffs.

Entering Friday, the Blue Raiders were sitting at No. 13 in District III-AAAA. The top 10 teams make the postseason.

With six games remaining, the Raiders need to win as many as they can to move on to district play. The team was scheduled to face Trinity (a game moved from Monday to Tuesday), West Perry on Wednesday, Milton Hershey on Friday and Boiling Springs and finish the regular season next week with games against CD East and Bishop McDevitt.

Camp Hill 10, Middletown 0 (5 innings)

The game at Camp Hill did not go well for the Blue Raiders, who were hoping for an upset.

In the season’s first half, the Raiders had battled back from a 4-0 deficit before the Lions held off a late rally in a 5-3 win at Middletown.

On April 30, the Lions scored a lone run in the first inning to take the early lead, and the 1-0 score held up through 3 1/2 innings.

In the top of the third, the Blue Raiders missed out on a good chance to tie the game or take the lead, but came up empty.

With one out, A.J. Stains drew a walk and Scott Ash followed with a single to right to put two runners on base. A fielder’s choice forced out Ash at second but moved Stains to third.

Ray Truntz drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases. But Camp Hill pitcher Luke Goodyear ended the threat with a called third strike on Tim Wagner for the third out.

The Raiders put runners on base in the fourth and fifth innings but could not score against Goodyear and the Camp Hill defense.

The Lions scored one run in the third for a 2-0 lead against Ash but the game was still in reach for the Middletown nine until everything blew up in the home half of the fifth. Five Camp Hill hits including a triple by Ben Snyder and a double by Jackson Thompson off reliever Brady Keyser led to an 8-run outburst and an early ending because of the 10-run rule.

Goodyear gave up three hits and recorded 12 strikeouts in the win. Ash had six strikeouts for the Raiders.

Middletown 14, Steelton-Highspire 3

The Blue Raiders got off to a bit of a sluggish start against visiting Steel-High on Wednesday in a game that had been moved up a day because of weather concerns.

Prior to the game, seniors Scott Ash, Cam Peters, Cole Senior, Jaxson Senior, P.J. Sidhu and Avery Williams were honored. Williams was unable to attend due to an injury.

Coach Mike Lupia started the other five with Cole Senior and Sidhu getting their first starts of the season, and all five contributed to the win that broke the winless streak.

The Rollers, who have struggled all season, threatened to score in the top of the first inning after Cesar Villamel hit an infield single with one out and Erick Crankfield was hit by a pitch with two outs. But Garrett Miller got Kendall Pryor looking at a called third strike to end it.

The top of the Middletown batting order was surprisingly sat down in order by Henry Flemister in the home half, and the Rollers put another runner on base in the top of the second with a two-out single by Synsear Hrestock. But a groundout ended the Rollers’ chance.

In the bottom of the second, Flemister picked up a pair of strikeouts around a walk by Tim Wagner. But the Roller pitcher then ran into lots of trouble and walked Justin Yohn, Cole Senior and Sidhu to load the bases and force in Peters from third. Ash was hit by a pitch, forcing in another run before Flemister got out of the inning with a groundout. Down 2-0 in the top of the third, the Rollers picked up two runs to tie the score.

Justin Funn led off with a bunt single and Villamel was safe on a double-error that allowed Funn to score. A wild pitch let the tying run in before Miller registered his fourth and fifth strikeouts to end it.

The Raiders’ Collin Heffner walked to lead off the bottom of the third but Flemister sat down the next three batters to keep the score deadlocked at 2.

Miller had a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth and, in the bottom half, the Middletown bats came alive.

Held hitless despite their two runs scored, the Blue Raiders punched out five hits and took advantage of seven walks as the offense erupted for 12 runs to put the game out of reach.

Yohn led off with a walk and made it to third on a throwing error by the Rollers. Cole Senior followed with a bloop infield single to get things started. A throw to second trying to catch Senior stealing allowed Yohn to score from third for the first run.

An RBI single by Sidhu drove in Senior for the second run, and Ash’s triple to right pushed home Sidhu for a 5-2 Middletown lead.

After Miller drew a base on balls, Ash raced home on a wild pitch for run No. 6. Pryor took over on the mound for the Rollers and walked three straight batters as the home team picked up two more runs. Peters scored on another wild pitch and Yohn punched out a 2-run single to give the Raiders an 11-2 lead.

Sidhu’s second single of the inning drove in two more, and he scored on a fielder’s choice ground out by Ash.

Funn led off the top of the fifth with a single and came around to score with two outs, but the Rollers would get no more as Miller induced a ground ball for the final out.

Lower Dauphin 10, Middletown 0 (5 innings)

The Falcons have been a bit inconsistent this year and had lost six games prior to Middletown’s visit on Friday afternoon. Still, Lower Dauphin was holding onto first place in the Mid-Penn Conference Keystone Division and showed quite a bit of firepower on offense along with solid pitching and defense. The result was a 10-0, five-inning win over the Blue Raiders at Nye Elementary School field.

Ryan Kutz picked up the pitching victory for the Falcons, who took advantage of six hits, a number of walks and a couple errors in securing the non-divisional win.

Kutz gave up three hits and recorded six strikeouts before giving way to a reliever in the fifth inning.

Middletown starter Scott Ash yielded just one run and one hit through 2 1/3 innings before running into problems with one out in the third. And that’s when the Falcons erupted for 7 runs, 2 against Ash and 5 more against reliever Brady Keyser.

Those 8 runs, along with one in the fourth and another in the fifth, finished the game early due to the 10-run rule.

Garrett Miller’s single in the first frame, Jaxson Senior’s hit in the second and Cam Peters’ poke to left in the fourth were the three hits the Middletown nine was able to produce.

Kutz’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning drove in the first Lower Dauphin run. Consecutive hits by Axel Grater, Jarek Bacon and Kutz produced two more in the third with one out. With two outs, the Falcons took advantage of three walks, an error and hits by Ryan Gerst and Nick Bennett that led to an 8-0 lead before third pitcher Mike Tuffy ended the inning with a strikeout.

In the top of the fourth, Peters singled with one out but Kutz struck out the next two batters, leaving Peters stranded. In the home half of the fourth, a hit batsman with the bases loaded forced in run No. 9 for the Falcons.

Grater, in relief, sat down the Raiders in order in the top of the fifth, and in the bottom of the inning Dylan Goddard doubled with one out and then scored the game-ender on an error.