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Middletown Legion struggles to score, team stands at 5-11 on the season

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 7/11/18

Try as they might, the players on the Middletown American Legion baseball team just can’t break out of the hitting slump that has plagued them all season.

And, while the Post 594 …

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Middletown Legion struggles to score, team stands at 5-11 on the season

Posted

Try as they might, the players on the Middletown American Legion baseball team just can’t break out of the hitting slump that has plagued them all season.

And, while the Post 594 representatives did manage to record a much-needed victory against visiting Dauphin last week, decisions in four other games came against them. The team lost to Hershey, twice to Hummelstown and came up short in a week-ending matchup with Upper Dauphin in a five-day stretch.

With a 5-11 record, the team still has a chance to make the playoffs, depending on remaining games that Lawnton has yet to play and how they affect the standings.

“We just can’t get the hits,” assistant coach Rob Alcock said prior to Thursday’s home game against Upper Dauphin Post 404 from Elizabethville.

In spite of the absence of timely hits, Post 594 gave Upper Dauphin a good game before falling in a close 4-2 contest.

“We played a pretty good game,” head coach Mark Chimel said following the loss. “Upper Dauphin lost only one game all year.”

The team recorded four hits, two by Johan Sanchez-Padilla, and a pair of walks against Upper Dauphin starter Dylan Lower who struck out four while pitching one out short of a complete game.

Brady Keyser took the loss for Post 594 after yielding six hits and all four runs in six innings of work on the mound. David Alcock pitched the seventh and faced just four batters.

Post 404 scored its first run in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Eli Smith, a two-out hit that drove in teammate Jarod Bingaman who had led off with a single to left. Middletown batters went down in order in the home half and Upper Dauphin added another run in the top of the second. A bloop double by Bingaman with two outs plated Patrick Bateman who had drawn a one-out walk.

Sanchez-Padilla led off the home half of the second with a single to left, went to second on a wild pitch and held the spot when Matt Schopf walked with two down.

But both were left stranded when Lower induced a ground ball out off the bat of Stephen Kleinfelter.

Keyser had a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of strikeouts in the top of the third to keep the score unchanged and Post 594 left one runner stranded in the home half, keeping the home team on the short end of a 2-0 score.

But Upper Dauphin doubled its lead in the top of the fourth frame. A leadoff walk, followed by a Middletown error, produced the first run on a fielder’s choice grounder by Hoyt Stiely.

The second run came on an RBI single to center by Lower that made the score 4-0. Brady ended the inning by striking out Mason Grow with two runners on base.

Middletown tried to get some offense going in the bottom of the fourth after Avery Williams led off with a single to left. But Lower sat down the next three batters to temporarily preserve the shutout.

Brady had another 1-2-3 inning in the visitors’ half of the fifth inning and the Middletown side finally broke the ice in the home half.

Schopf led off with a double to deep left and made it to third on a throwing error by Upper Dauphin’s left fielder on the play. With one out, a wild pitch from Lower with Keyser at the plate allowed Schopf to score for Post 594’s first run. But Lower got Keyser on a flyout to left and then struck out Brendan Schaffner on a called third strike with the count full.

Keyser escaped some trouble in the top of the sixth to keep the score set at 4-1.

With two outs and two runners on base via a single and hit batsman, Lower’s hard liner struck teammate Bateman, who was breaking for second. But Post 594 came up empty in the home half of the sixth and, after giving up a leadoff walk, Alcock, in relief of Brady, got out of the seventh unharmed.

Again the Middletown squad tried to rally for much-needed runs in the bottom of the seventh and got off to a good start when Sanchez-Padilla led off with his second hit of the game. He got into scoring position by reaching second on a passed ball.

With one out, Cam Peters was hit by a pitch to put two runners on and both moved up on another wild pitch with Schopf at the plate.

Schopf’s hard grounder on the ninth pitch of the at-bat was misplayed by Bingaman at shortstop, allowing Sanchez-Padilla to score Middletown’s second run.

But Schopf was picked off on a close play at first and Kleinfelter popped up to the catcher, ending the threat and the game.