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Middletown baseball finishes season on a losing note, getting shut out in last two games

By Larry Etter Press & Journal Staff
Posted 5/18/17

The Blue Raiders could not get the bats going against Central Dauphin East pitcher Hunter Paul and the steady defense behind him Monday, suffering a 3-0 loss to the visiting Panthers.

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Middletown baseball finishes season on a losing note, getting shut out in last two games

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The Blue Raiders could not get the bats going against Central Dauphin East pitcher Hunter Paul and the steady defense behind him Monday, suffering a 3-0 loss to the visiting Panthers.

The Middletown squad also lost 10-0 to East Pennsboro on Tuesday to finish at 9-11 on the season.

The losses wrapped up a week in which the Middletown squad registered two wins, one in dramatic fashion vs. Trinity on Thursday, May 11, and one with ease vs. Steelton-Highspire on Tuesday, May 9.

Before Tuesday's loss, the Blue Raiders held the No. 13 spot in the District III-AAAA power rankings. Only the top 10 make the playoffs.

The win by CD East on Monday spoiled Middletown’s Military Appreciation Day activities on the field and gave the Raiders their 10th loss of the year with one game remaining.

And, even though starting pitcher Michael Mattes recorded 11 strikeouts against the Panthers, he also yielded six hits and was outdone by Paul, who gave up just one hit and registered nine strikeouts in the complete game win. Paul got six outs from fly balls or pop-ups and five others on ground outs in the crossover Mid-Penn Conference contest.

After giving up a leadoff single to start the game, Mattes was aided by a double play in the first inning. The Raiders went down in order in the bottom of the first and the Panthers scored their first run in the top of the second. A leadoff single by Steven Armstrong set the stage for the run. Armstrong scored from third on a wild pitch with two outs.

In the home half of the second, Richard Castagna roped a two-out double to left center with what turned out to be the Raiders’ only hit of the game. A ground ball for the third out ended their hopes for a tying run.

The Panthers scored two more runs in the top of the fourth. A sacrifice fly by James Jones drove in one run and an RBI single past third baseman Tristen Maxwell pushed in the other one. That turned out to be all the scoring that would happen in the game.

The Raiders went down in order in the fourth and fifth frames and Mattes had 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth.

In the bottom of the sixth, Maxwell was safe on an error with one out and made it to second on a fielder’s choice ground ball by Noah Zimmerman. But Maxwell was left stranded.

The Raiders did not get any one on base in the bottom of the seventh, ending the Middletown team’s hopes for a tying or winning rally.

Middletown 15, Steelton-Highspire 4

While it’s true that the Steel-High baseball team has struggled this year, the Rollers still showed their competitive side in the early innings on their home field on Tuesday, May 9. And, while the Blue Raiders worked their way to a 5-1 lead after three innings, the Rollers hung around until the top of the fourth when the Raiders erupted for 9 runs to push their hosts into a 14-1 hole.

Still, the Rollers plated three runs in the bottom of the frame to make things interesting. After the Blue Raiders picked up another run in the top of the fifth and needed to keep the Rollers from scoring in the home half to end the game early, the Steel-High squad went down fighting. But two runners were left on base, denying the Rollers a chance to keep the game going.

In the top of the first inning Noah Zimmerman led off with a walk and stole second and third to set up the first Middletown run. Steel-High pitcher Isaiah Lockette got a pair of outs but Blake Jacoby was safe on an error that allowed Zimmerman to score. Joe Brady followed with a bloop single to drive in Jacoby for the second run.

With Tristen Maxwell pitching for the Raiders, Lockette reached base on a one-out infield single but was left stranded. The Raiders scored their third run in the top of the second when Zimmerman’s single to right knocked in Jimmy Fitzpatrick from third. Fitzpatrick had walked to lead off the inning.

The Middletown defense turned a double play in the bottom of the second and Maxwell recorded his third strikeout to keep the Rollers off the scoreboard. In the top of the third Matt Shopf’s double drove in Johan Sanchez-Padilla and Jacoby who both had reached base on Steel-High errors. The runs gave the Raiders a 5-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third a pair of walks led to the Rollers’ first run. Lockette’s double to left plated Jalen Washington for the run. Maxwell prevented further scoring with strikeout No. 4 and a line-out back to the mound.

In the top of the fourth, everything fell apart for Lockette and his defense. Zimmerman beat out a throw to first on an infield dribbler to start things off. David Alcock and Sanchez-Padilla both walked to load the bases. With one out Brady was safe on an error that pushed in the first run. A second error allowed Alcock to score.

With two outs, Richard Castagna ripped a single to center to plate two more runs and Maxwell’s infield single knocked in another. Leading 10-1, the Raiders were not done. After Zimmerman and pinch-hitter Scott Ash drove in three more runs to push the lead to 13-1, Lockette was relieved on the mound by Justice Funn.

Two more pinch-hitters, Owen Haederer and Avery Williams, also reached base on Roller miscues, the second one allowing Ash to score run No. 14 before Funn ended the inning on a ground ball out.

The Rollers picked up three runs, however, in the bottom of the fourth to stay in it. With Castagna now pitching for the Raiders, Funn’s single drove in Donte Jones for the first run. With two outs Lockette’s ground ball plated Nick Neidlinger for the second run. With the bases loaded Kendall Pryor was hit by a pitch to force in the third run. Sanchez-Padilla took the hill at that point and struck out Ishmael Hodge to end the inning.

In the top of the fifth, Kyle Truesdale’s sacrifice fly to center drove in Aaron McDevitt for run No. 15. And, despite the Rollers getting two runners on base via a walk and hit batsman, the game ended when Sanchez-Padilla fanned both Trevor Kisler and Washington.

The Blue Raiders recorded 10 hits in the game while the Rollers produced five.

Middletown 4, Trinity 3

There is no better way to end a game than by pulling off a last-inning rally for an exciting victory. And that’s just what the Blue Raiders did on Thursday at home in their thrilling 4-3 triumph over visiting Trinity on Senior Recognition Day.

Behind through most of the game against the Shamrocks, the Raiders stole the win in the bottom of the seventh inning with a bases-loaded, two-run single by Sanchez-Padilla that drove in courtesy runner Aaron McDevitt and Noah Zimmerman.

On the other side of the field, the Shamrocks were left stunned by the late turn of events. Sanchez-Padilla and Zimmerman joined fellow seniors Joe Brady, Richard Castagna, Jimmy Fitzpatrick, Carlos Frias, Steve Kleinfelter, Tristen Maxwell and Michael Mattes in the spotlight before and after the game on their special day. And, even though the weather was a bit gloomy and damp, the sun shone brightly on this group of upperclassmen who all played roles in the team’s success this year.

But for most of the game a victory appeared to be in doubt for the Middletown side. Trinity took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning to gain the early upper hand. The Blue Raiders picked up their first run in the bottom of the third and then earned the tying run in the home half of the fourth. But the Shamrocks went back on top 3-2 in the visitors’ half of the fifth frame and held that edge through the top of the seventh. In the top of the sixth, Kleinfelter made arguably the best defensive play of the game. Getting his first start of the season at second base, Kleinfelter leapt high in the air to rob Trinity’s Luke Pastor of a base hit to keep the score unchanged.

In the top of the seventh, Mattes came on in relief of starting pitcher Zimmerman and held the Shamrocks in check despite giving up a two-out single. And that all set the stage for the remarkable comeback and the exciting win.

Early in the game, in the top of the second, a sacrifice bunt and an error led to the 2-0 lead by the visitors. And, while Trinity starter Donovan Oakes held the Raiders scoreless in the first two innings, the Raiders scored their initial run in the bottom of the third. Shopf led off with a walk and went to third on Fitzpatrick’s single to center. Maxwell’s sac fly drove in Shopf for the run.

In the home half of the fourth inning, the Raiders tied the score at 2-2. With one out, Sanchez-Padilla reached base on an infield single and stole second. With two outs Brady was safe on an error, the mistake allowing Sanchez-Padilla to score the run. Castagna followed with a single but he and Brady were left stranded.

The Shamrocks, however, came right back with their third run to retake the lead in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the frame, Maxwell singled with one out and Alcock was safe on an error, but they, too, were left stranded. Strong pitching by Zimmerman and Trinity’s Oakes, along with Kleinfelter’s key defensive play, kept the score unchanged through the top of the sixth.

Reliever Mattes gave up an infield single with two outs in the top of the seventh but struck out Velly Bartow to keep the Crusaders from scoring.

Leading off the eventful bottom of the final inning, Schopf was hit by a pitch and went to second on Fitzpatrick’s sacrifice bunt. But new pitcher Seth Derliunas got the second out on a strikeout of Maxwell who had worked a full count.

With McDevitt running for Schopf, Zimmerman was walked intentionally, putting Raiders on first and second. The excitement grew when Williams, who had stepped into the batter’s box as a pinch hitter, was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Facing a one-ball, two-strike count, Sanchez-Padilla connected on a low outside pitch, driving the ball to left center for a clean single. McDevitt raced home from third, scoring easily. Third base coach Sam McLoota sent Zimmerman who was rounding third and Zimmerman beat the throw home for the winning run as the Middletown bench, coaches and fans erupted in jubilation.

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