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Middletown American Legion Post 594 loses two out of three, finishes at 10-11 on season

By Larry Etter Press & Journal Staff
Posted 7/19/17

The Middletown American Legion Post 594 baseball team came up on the short end of a 5-4 score against host McConnellsburg in the deciding game of the Division II Region 4 championship game on …

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Middletown American Legion Post 594 loses two out of three, finishes at 10-11 on season

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The Middletown American Legion Post 594 baseball team came up on the short end of a 5-4 score against host McConnellsburg in the deciding game of the Division II Region 4 championship game on Sunday evening.

The final game of the three-game series was played on the host team’s field at 7 p.m. after both squads were able to gather enough players to compete. Middletown American Legion Post 594 and McConnellsburg Post 561 were the only two teams in Region 4 who agreed to play for the Legion Division 2 baseball title. The region includes Dauphin, Cumberland, Lancaster, Lebanon and Franklin counties.

Middletown ended up 10-11 on the season.

With several regular players still missing from the squad, Middletown made a game of it but fell to the Post 561 team that scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Although a bit disappointed with the loss, Middletown coach Mark Chimel was pleased with this team’s performance.

“With missing four to five starting players along with our ace pitcher, I thought we played very well in the series. The younger players took advantage of the opportunity to play and got some key hits for us,” he said. “Having to have a few players play out of position caught up with us tonight though resulting in some crucial errors during the game. Isaiah Lockette pitched a great game for us tonight. We just did not make the plays behind him.”

Middletown had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning before McConnellsburg got on the board in the bottom of the third. Then, after McConnellsburg went ahead 4-2 in the home half of the fourth frame, the Middletown nine tied the game in the top of the seventh. But the hosts were able to pull out the win and claim the championship.

Middletown opened up the scoring in the top of the first inning after Isaiah Lockette led off the game with a double. Owen Haederer’s fielder’s choice grounder advanced Lockette to third and another groundout ball by Jimmy Fitzpatrick drove in Lockette for the run. Lockette set down McConnellsburg batters in order in the first inning and Middletown scored its second run in the top of the second.

Matt Shopf walked with one out and went to third on a two-out single to center by Avery Williams. Shopf scored on a wild pitch to give the Middletown side a 2-0 lead.

Lockette had another 1-2-3 inning in the second, but Post 594 was held scoreless in the top of the third.

With one out in the bottom of the third, however, McConnellsburg’s Zach Clark hit a solo home run over the right field fence to make it a 2-1 game. Middletown went down in order in the top of the fourth and McConnellsburg picked up a pair of runs in the home half to take a 3-2 lead.

A leadoff single and an error put two runners on base and both came home on Lucas McClain’s double to left field. Another error allowed McClain to score, giving the hosts a 4-2 lead.

After neither team scored in the fifth and sixth innings, Middletown fought back to tie the score at 4 with a two-run rally in the top of the seventh. Pinch-hitter Jaxson Senior led off with a single and prompted the McConnellsburg manager to make a pitching change.

But the new pitcher walked Rich Castagna to put two runners on board with no outs.

Lockette’s grounder forced Castagna out at second but Senior made it to third. With Haederer at the plate, Lockette stole second and Haederer’s clutch single up the middle drove in both runners to tie the game at 4.

A pair of ground outs prevented further scoring, and McConnellsburg came up to bat in the bottom of the frame with the game deadlocked.

Lockette got the first batter out on a fly ball to left to start the home half of the inning. Having a chance for the second out came on a ground ball by Cale Harman, but the throw to first was off target and Harman went to second, reaching scoring position on the miscue.

Another flyout to left for the second out kept the runner from advancing. But Grayson Hall came through with the game-winning hit, a single to left that scored Harman for the walk-off 5-4 victory and the championship.

McConnellsburg 3, Middletown 2

Middletown hosted McConnellsburg on Saturday.

Post 561 pitcher Matt Huston gave up just one hit against Middletown batters in the win but had just two strikeouts in the 3-2 decision. All the other outs came on groundouts, line-outs and fly balls as Huston got a lot of help from his defense.

McConnellsburg batters punched out 9 hits against two Middletown pitchers but were held to just three runs in the seven inning contest.

McConnellsburg scored twice in a quirky first inning against starter Noah Zimmerman to take the early lead. Post 561 started off the game with a pair of infield singles and scored on a bloop single by Quintin Miller for the first run. A fielder’s choice grounder pushed in the second run.

In the bottom of the opening stanza both Matt Shopf and Jimmy Fitzpatrick were hit by pitches with one out to put two runners on base. But a pair of groundouts ended the early threat by the host team.

Zimmerman sat down McConnellsburg batters in order in the top of the second and Post 594 got on the scoreboard in the home half. Rich Castagna was safe on an error to start things off and went to second on a fielder’s choice by Cameron Peters. Avery Williams and Steve Kleinfelter drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for Isaiah Lockette, whose sacrifice fly drove in Castagna for Middletown’s first run.

In the top of the third inning, Post 561’s Aaron Schepis led off with a double to left center and scored on a one-out RBI single by Miller that gave the visitors a 3-1 lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Williams was safe on an error with two outs, a miscue that led to Middletown’s second run of the game.

After Kleinfelter drew another walk Lockette’s bloop single allowed Williams to score and Post 594 closed the gap to a single run, 3-2.

But that turned out to be all the scoring in the game. Zimmerman gave up two hits and a walk in the top of the fifth but pitched his way out of trouble. Huston had a 1-2-3 inning in the bottoms of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to keep Post 594 from scoring.

Zimmerman, too, sat down McConnellsburg hitters in the top of the sixth. Lockette took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and stranded two runners to give the Middletown side a chance to rally, but Huston induced a pair of groundouts and a fly ball to end the game.

Middletown 13, McConnellsburg 1

Hitting-wise there was a huge difference in the second game compared to the first for Post 594 batters. Batting first as the designated visiting team in the 4:30 start to Saturday’s second game, Middletown jumped all over McConnellsburg pitcher Matt Brown in the top of the first inning.

Four hits, two walks, a run-scoring sacrifice fly and a hit batsman that led to four early runs ended Brown’s day quickly. Brice Feagley took over on the hill for Post 561 but, he, too suffered against Middletown batters as Post 594 jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

Lockette led off the game with a double to deep center field and went to third on Owen Haederer’s single.

After Fitzpatrick walked to load the bases Zimmerman’s sacrifice drove in the first run. After Schopf singled to again load the bases Tristen Maxwell was hit by a pitch to force in the second run.

Peters’ bloop single knocked in run No. 3 and Kleinfelter’s walk brought in No. 4, forcing McConnellsburg manager Pete Hall to make a pitching change. Against Feagley, Castagna’s single, a fielder’s choice by Lockette and another single by Haederer pushed in three more runs before Feagley got out of the inning.

Down 7-0 McConnellsburg picked up its lone run of the game with Fitzpatrick on the hill for Post 594. A pair of walks to open the bottom of the first led to the run that came on a wild pitch with Schepis scoring from third.

That turned out to be the only run Post 561 would score in the game as Fitzpatrick shook off those early control problems and settled into a game-winning effort on the mound.

Fitzpatrick gave up just three hits and no runs during the balance of the contest.

Post 594 posted three more runs in the top of the second. Zimmerman led off with a walk, stole second and went to third on Shopf’s single. Maxwell also drew a base on balls, the free pass coming on a wild pitch that allowed Zimmerman to score the first run. A single by Peters drove in Schopf for the second run and a fielder’s choice by Kleinfelter pushed in Maxwell for the third tally as Post 594 built up its lead to 10-1. There was no further scoring until Middletown posted three more runs in the top of the sixth.

With two outs Jaxson Senior walked and went to second on a wild pitch with Castagna at the plate.

Castagna was hit by a pitch and Lockette also walked to load the bases for Haederer who punched out his third hit of the game, driving in Senior from third.

Fitzpatrick followed with a two-run single to center field that gave the Middletown side a commanding 13-1 lead.

With the 10-run rule in place, Fitzpatrick sat down Post 561 batters in order in the bottom of the sixth to end the game early. Following a fly out Fitzpatrick struck out Brycen Hohman and Logan Little for his fifth and sixth strikeouts to lock down the 13-1 victory for Post 594.

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