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Division’s top teams too much for Blue Raider baseball squad

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 4/3/19

After having its first two games of the new season postponed due to the weather, the Middletown varsity baseball team was forced to jump right into action against the predicted top two teams in the …

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Division’s top teams too much for Blue Raider baseball squad

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After having its first two games of the new season postponed due to the weather, the Middletown varsity baseball team was forced to jump right into action against the predicted top two teams in the Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division.

As predicted, the Blue Raiders fell to both of those teams last week.

Although Wednesday’s game at East Pennsboro only went three innings in a 15-0 loss to the Panthers, Tuesday’s setback to visiting Northern York turned into a rather exciting full-game clash that the Polar Bears eventually won 14-9.

Head coach Mike Lupia would have liked to have played the first two games against Boiling Springs and Central Dauphin East as a tune-up, but it did not happen. Those missed games have been rescheduled for April.

East Pennsboro has been selected as the odds-on favorite to win the Capital Division with Northern (last year’s winner) a close second. Both teams gave early previews of how talented they are. The two are scheduled to face each other April 16 at East Pennsboro for the first of two meetings this spring.

Meanwhile, the Blue Raiders will try to pick up the pieces with games scheduled this week at home vs. Camp Hill on Tuesday, at Steelton-Highspire on Thursday and home to Shippensburg on Friday.

Northern York 14, Middletown 9

The Polar Bears scored one run in the top of the first inning and two more in the top of the third to take a 3-0 lead at the Middletown sports complex.

A pair of walks and an infield single off starting pitcher Scott Ash led to the first score. A couple more walks and a pair of hits led to the two-run third by the visitors.

The Blue Raiders answered with a run in the home half of the third to get on the board. Ash walked with one out and scored on an RBI double to center by Avery Williams for the run.

Michael Tuffy took over on the mound for the Raiders in the top of the fourth and pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the score at 3-1. The Raiders picked up their second run in the bottom of the frame after Garrett Miller led off with a walk and scored on a two-out single to center by designated hitter Ray Truntz.

Trying to keep the score close in the top of the fifth, Tuffy, instead, was tagged for two runs as the Bears punched out three hits against him.

Miller took over with the home team down 5-2, but, unfortunately, was stung by a 3-run home run by Northern’s Tanner Merovich.

The Bears collected two more runs in the frame to jump up to a 10-2 lead. But the Raiders came back in the home half to plate 5 runs and make things interesting.

With two outs and Williams on base via an error, the Bears replaced starting pitcher Eddie Ensor with Peyton Merovich. Tim Wagner drilled his first offering for a double to deep center, driving in Williams for the first run. A walk to Miller and a fielding error off a grounder by Justin Yohn loaded the bases with two outs.

Jaxson Senior drew a four-pitch walk to force in Wagner, and Truntz followed with his second clutch hit, a double to center field that drove in three runs, to make it 10-7. A lineout ended the inning.

Miller had a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth and the Blue Raiders cut the gap to 10-8 on a fielder’s choice groundout by Cam Peters that allowed Ash to score from third. Ash was safe on an error to lead off the inning.

With eyes on a possible upset, the Raiders needed to keep the game close as the Bears batted in the top of the seventh. But several fielding errors, followed by a fielder’s choice ground ball and a bloop single to center by Ensor, pushed in four runs.

The Raiders went down fighting, however. Miller led off the home half of the final frame with a single to right, Yohn beat out a close play at first for an infield single and Senior was hit by a pitch to load the bases. With one out and Tony Powell at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Miller to score from third for the final run of the game.

East Pennsboro 15, Middletown 0 (3 innings)

Nothing much went right for the Blue Raiders on Wednesday at East Pennsboro as the Panthers won big in the short game.

Both pitching and hitting strengths for the Panthers were on display during the chilly afternoon in Enola. Starting pitcher Jake Madden recorded seven strikeouts and gave up just one hit, a one-out single by Williams in the first inning, to earn the victory.

The Raiders put just two other runners on base, both on walks in the top of the third, in the loss.

On offense, East Pennsboro stung Middletown stating pitcher Brady Keyser for 6 hits and a pair of walks in the Panthers’ 8-run first inning. An error also contributed to the early outburst.

After the Raiders went down in order in the top of the second inning, the Panthers padded their lead to 10-0 in the home half. Keyser picked up one out on a fly ball to center and got the second one on a strikeout with the bases loaded. But a bloop single by Preston Powery knocked in the two runs before Keyser prevented further damage.

In the top of the third, Senior lead off with a walk and went to second on a wild pitch. But Madden picked up three strikeouts, the third coming after issuing a walk to Williams, to end the threat.

Yohn took over on the mound in the bottom of the third, but ran into trouble with walks and hit batters as the Panthers scored 5 runs to end the game early.