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Middletown Legion baseball makes quick exit from tourney

By Larry Etter, Press & Journal Staff
Posted 7/11/17

The Middletown American Legion baseball team’s appearance in the postseason was a short one, the season ending in an 8-1 loss at Hummelstown on Saturday afternoon.

They stand at 9-9 on the …

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Middletown Legion baseball makes quick exit from tourney

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The Middletown American Legion baseball team’s appearance in the postseason was a short one, the season ending in an 8-1 loss at Hummelstown on Saturday afternoon.

They stand at 9-9 on the season.

With six players missing the game due to vacations or work schedules, the short-handed Post 594 squad trailed by just one run, 2-1, midway through the fourth inning before Hummelstown scored three runs in the bottom of the frame and then added three more in the home half of the fifth to end the Middletown team’s season.

“Hummelstown’s defense was the difference in the game, and we just didn’t make some plays when we needed them,” Middletown coach Mark Chimel said following the loss.

But the season may not yet be finished.

This is the first year the Legion initiated a Division II tournament for the smaller teams. “We might have a home game next weekend in a regional AA game. We have to wait and see if that works out for us,” Chimel said.

Hummelstown, a loser to Linglestown earlier in the day, was forced into the loser’s bracket in the Legion tournament and needed a win to stay alive. Middletown lost to Paxton 2-0 on Wednesday in the double-elimination playoffs.

Middletown batters produced seven hits against Hummelstown starter Jared Dunkle but rewarded themselves with just one run for their efforts. Hummelstown made the most of eight hits, seven walks and a couple of errors and moved on to play another round.

In the top of the first inning, leadoff hitter Isaiah Lockette poked Dunkle’s first pitch through the gap on the left side for a single. After stealing second, Lockette went to third on Matt Shopf’s one-out single. But he never made it home as Dunkle induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.

Hummelstown scored its first run in the bottom of the opening frame when Jarek Bacon’s infield single drove in Josh Saufley from third. The home team threatened to add more after Hunter Eisenhour walked to load the bases with two outs. Lockette struck out Daniel Snowden to prevent further scoring.

Following a one-out single by catcher Cameron Peters in the top of the second, Dunkle induced another double-play grounder. Hummelstown went up 2-0 in the home half of the inning with a two-out RBI triple by Mike Geesaman.

The Middletown team broke the ice in the top of the third with one out. Stephen Kleinfelter’s dribbler down the third base line put him on first base and Lockette’s triple to center drove in what turned out to be Post 594’s lone run of the game.

Lockette stranded two Hummelstown runners in the bottom of the third to keep the score unchanged at 2-1 and the Middletown squad threatened to tie the game in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Peters singled to shallow center and went to second on a hit to left by Michael Mattes.

But Post 594 was robbed of a tying run on a hustling, shoestring catch by left fielder Snowden, his second such defensive gem of the inning. Hummelstown broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth by plating three more runs.

Hunter Crawford led off with a single to left, but was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice. With Geesaman at the plate, Saufley stole second and third. Geesaman walked, Saufley scored on a fielder’s choice,

Geesaman scored on an error and Matt Kephart scored on a bloop single by Eisenhour to complete the three-run surge. The runs came against Mattes, who had replaced Lockette on the mound. Middletown batters went down in order in the top of the fifth and Hummelstown plated three more run in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of reach.

Two Middletown errors, a single, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly produced two runs and the other came on an RBI single by Bacon.

Trailing 8-1, the Middletown batters again went down in order in the top of the sixth.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick took over on the hill for Post 594 in the bottom of the sixth and kept Hummelstown from padding its lead. But the Middletown squad could not stage a rally as relief pitcher Ryan Gerst struck out the side in the top of the seventh to lock down the win for the host team.

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