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MAHS baseball gets first win, vs. Susquehanna Township

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 4/10/18

It would be hard to pick what was more amazing in the Middletown varsity baseball team’s 16-13 victory at Susquehanna Township on Monday afternoon.

Was it the fact that the Blue Raiders …

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MAHS baseball gets first win, vs. Susquehanna Township

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It would be hard to pick what was more amazing in the Middletown varsity baseball team’s 16-13 victory at Susquehanna Township on Monday afternoon.

Was it the fact that the Blue Raiders snapped out of their early season slump by using 8 hits and 11 walks in the win? Was it the rally that the Indians pulled off in the sixth inning that nearly stole the victory from their guests? Or was it the weather that forced the two teams to play in a steady but light snowfall from start to finish?

At any rate, the entertaining contest led to first year head coach Mike Lupia’s first victory that was certainly memorable. Lupia and his staff were visibly relieved when the Raiders survived the wild game, one that was full of action and tension and unbaseball-like weather. But survive the team did as it broke its three-game losing streak with the much-needed triumph.

The Blue Raiders were scheduled to play four times this week with away games set for  Camp Hill and Steelton-Highspire, along with a rescheduled matchup at home against Northern York if the weather cooperates.

Lupia was an assistant coach at Susquehanna Township last season, and he knew a lot about the Indian players.

“They’re pretty good,” he said prior to the first pitch.

And he was really hoping that his team could shake off the effects of last Friday’s shutout loss to Bishop McDevitt.

“I shook up the lineup a bit and I hope it works,” he said. 

It also helped very much that Susquehanna’s starting pitcher, Ryan Jacobs, got off to a shaky start and the Raiders took advantage by scoring 6 runs in the top of the first inning. Five walks, a hit batsman and two hits, one each by Adam Kell and David Alcock, led to the early run production as Scott Ash, Kell, Matt Schopf, Aaron McDevitt, Alcock and Kyle Truesdale scored.

In the home half of the frame, pitcher Ash gave up a single and a walk but got out of the inning unharmed.

In the second inning the Blue Raiders plated 6 more runs to jump out to a 12-0 lead, the runs coming against Jerry Feaser, who had relieved Jacobs late in the first. After Schopf and McDevitt were both safe on errors, Alcock drove them both in with a single to right. Tim Wagner’s one-out hit drove in two more, Kell’s sacrifice fly knocked in another and Schopf’s double to left pushed home the sixth run.

Ash walked the first Susquehanna batter in the home half of the second but the defense turned a double play for two outs. A flyout to shallow right ended the home half of the inning.

But the Blue Raiders went down in order in the top of the third and the Indians finally got their offense going in the bottom of the frame. A pair of doubles and a single off of new Middletown pitcher Garrett Miller drove in four runs and the Indians picked up another on a Raider error to make it a 12-5 game after three innings. The Raiders again went down in order in the top of the fourth and Miller pitched his way out of trouble in the bottom by striking out Aaron McGaw with two outs and the bases loaded.

In the top of the fifth, Kell led off with a base on balls, Schopf was safe on an error and McDevitt was safe on another Indian miscue on a bunt that loaded the bases with Raiders. With one out, Cam Peters laced a sharp single down the left field line, driving in Kell and Schopf for runs 13 and 14 for the Middletown nine. A groundout with the bags still full prevented further damage by the Raiders.

Wagner came on in relief of Miller and had a 1-2-3 inning in the home half of the fifth and the Raiders were cruising along with their 14-5 lead. But everything changed in the bottom of the sixth after the Raiders went scoreless in the top of the frame.

With two outs and a man on second, the Indians really came to life at the plate. A double, a walk, an error and a single led to four Indian runs.

Another Middletown error and three straight hits keyed four more as Susquehanna cut the Raiders’ lead to 14-13. A play at home plate on a throw from Schopf in right kept the Indians from scoring the tying run. With the pressure now on, the Blue Raiders came to bat in the top of the seventh needing an insurance run or two to gain some separation. And they produced just what they needed.

After leading off with a walk, Alcock made it to third on a single by Peters and an Indian error. Truesdale worked new pitcher Jace Merlina to a full count and drew the walk to load the bases with no outs. But Alcock was forced out at home on a ground ball to short and Ash went down on strikes to temporarily keep the Raiders from picking up the needed runs.

Avery Williams, however, came through with a clutch single to right on a 3-2 pitch that drove in Peters and Truesdale for two big runs before the at-bats ended. Kell again took the hill and finished strong, getting a pair of strikeouts around a walk and a game ending groundout to save the victory for the Blue Raiders.   

East Pennsboro 4, Middletown 2

On Thursday, the Blue Raiders played host to Capital Division preseason favorite East Pennsboro well throughout the game but came up on the short end of a 4-2 score.

After winning the District III-4A title last year and making it as far as the state semifinals, the Panthers returned with a solid nucleus of players and were predicted to do very well again in 2018. With that in mind, the Blue Raiders had their work cut out for themselves.

Going toe to toe with the Panthers, the score stood at 0-0 at the end of four innings on a cold, windy day.

But the Panthers broke the deadlock with 2 runs in the top of the fifth and 2 more in the sixth. After loading the bases with one out, the Blue Raiders lost a golden opportunity to pull even or go ahead when the sixth inning ended on a pair of strikeouts.

Starting pitcher Adam Kell kept the Panthers off the scoreboard in the first four innings, getting out of trouble in the first by inducing a pop up to catcher Avery Williams with two outs and the bases loaded. In the second, Kell left one runner stranded and another in the third and fourth frames.

At the same time East Pennsboro pitcher Nick Embleton gave up a leadoff single to Kell in the second, a walk to Scott Ash in the third, a leadoff single by Aaron McDevitt and another walk to Cam Peters in the fourth, but gave up no runs.

That scoreless stalemate, however, ended in the top of the fifth when the Panthers scored twice. An RBI single by Embleton and a run-scoring double by Jake Madden produced the two runs. In the home half of the fifth, Tim Wagner led off with a walk and raced home on a two-out single by Williams that pulled the Raiders to within 2-1.

But a pair of mistakes in the sixth led to two more runs by the visitors. The first was a fielding error that allowed the leadoff batter to reach base.

A sacrifice bunt moved Zach Garlinger to second and a single by Brady Madden drove in the first run. New pitcher Garrett Miller got Embleton to ground out to short for the second out but Garlinger scored on a passed ball for the second run before a fly out ended the inning.

Down 4-1, the Blue Raiders tried to rally. After Kell drew a base on balls against new pitcher Zach Boyer, Peters was hit by a pitch to put the first two runners on base. Matt Schopf came through with a sharp single to right that drove in Kell for a run.

But Peters was out at home on a fielder’s choice grounder by David Alcock, and following a walk to Wagner that loaded the bases, relief pitcher Michael Morales ended the Raiders’ rally with a pair of strikeouts.

After Miller held the Panthers scoreless in the top of the seventh, the Blue Raiders were set down in order in the bottom of the frame allowing the visitors to hold on for the 4-2 victory.

Bishop McDevitt 13, Middletown 0

On Friday, not much went well for the Blue Raiders against visiting Bishop McDevitt. The home team suffered through a disheartening 13-0 loss to the Crusaders.

That setback, more so than the first two losses of the year, left head coach Mike Lupia disappointed.

“I was not expecting that performance at all,” he said as his team fell to 0-3.

The Blue Raiders struggled at the plate on Friday, getting just two hits off Crusader pitcher Trystan Housman. Five Middletown pitchers had trouble as well.

McDevitt scored 2 runs in the first inning, 2 more in the second, 1 each in the fourth and fifth frames, 3 in the sixth and 4 more in the seventh to run away with the non-divisional scrap. The two hits, both by Avery Williams, along with three walks were all the Middletown offense could generate in the disappointing loss.

The first hit by Williams (an infield single) came with one out in the bottom of the first inning. The second one by the Middletown catcher (another infield single) came with two outs in the home half of the third.

Housman recorded 10 strikeouts for the winners.

In the second inning, Adam Kell led off with a walk and made it to second when David Alcock was safe on an error with two outs. But both were left stranded as were a couple other Middletown runners in later innings, denying the Blue Raiders chances to put runs on the board.