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When it rained, it poured: Raiders clobber Harrisburg in bad weather, but lose a costly game to Mother Nature.

Posted 5/14/13

Middletown needed to schedule a game at the last minute to have a chance at making the District 3 playoffs.


Leave it to old Mother Nature to cause problems during the last scheduled week of the regular baseball season.

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When it rained, it poured: Raiders clobber Harrisburg in bad weather, but lose a costly game to Mother Nature.


MDTbaseball3Middletown’s Brett Altland slides safely into third base in a 13-2 win over Harrisburg that kept the Blue Raiders’ District 3 playoff hopes alive.Rain nearly washed out Middletown’s game at Harrisburg on Tuesday, May 7; forced a move of a game scheduled for Thursday, May 9 to Friday, May 10; and totally wiped out a planned Senior Recognition day contest on Saturday, May 11.

Of the two games that the Blue Raiders did manage to play, the Middletown squad earned a split, posting a victory at Harrisburg before coming up short against Lower Dauphin at the end of the week.

The win and loss gave the Raiders an overall record of 9-10. The Saturday game against Steelton-Highspire game was not only postponed, but also cancelled due to the Rollers having other games scheduled for the following week. The cancellation left Middletown in 20th place in the District 3 Class AAA power rankings, with the top 16 teams qualifying for the playoffs. As of Saturday afternoon, Middletown athletic director William Mills was in the process of finding another game for the Raiders to give them a chance to earn a playoff spot. A 10th win would certainly help the cause.  

Middletown 13, Harrisburg 2

A heavy rain shower hit Harrisburg’s home field area during warmups on Tuesday, forcing a late start to the contest. But the game eventually got under way and, although there were a couple periods of rain during the action, the Raiders were able to post the victory in the five-inning outing.

Although he pitched just one inning, Nathan Ocker earned the win after the Middletown squad posted a 3-0 lead after one full inning. Jordan Flowers pitched the second, third, fourth and fifth innings and held the host Cougars (1-16, 0-14 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference) to just 2 runs over that span.

The Middletown offense was able to take advantage of key hits, walks and Harrisburg errors throughout the game in the lopsided victory. Catcher Cody Fox led off the game with a single down the left field line, went to second on a passed ball and moved to third on a throwing error by the Cougars after Zach Sims drew a walk.

Ocker also drew a base on balls to load the bags. Nick Drawbaugh’s fielder’s choice grounder was misplayed by the Harrisburg defense, allowing 2 runs to score. Another fielder’s choice ground ball by Flowers drove in pinch runner Jerry Kohout for the third Middletown run.  

Ocker sat down the Cougars in order in the bottom of the first frame with a groundout and two strikeouts to hold the 3-0 lead.

The Raiders added another run in the top of the second following a leadoff double by Dylan Bower and an RBI single by Brett Altland.

Harrisburg’s Sherrod Baltimore led off the home half of the inning with a single and later scored on a Raider error. The Cougars’ only other run came with two outs in the inning on a delayed steal.

With rain coming and going in the third inning, the Raiders piled on 7 more runs to jump to an 11-2 lead.  

Drawbaugh walked to lead things off, went to second on a wild pitch and scored when Ethan Kell was safe on an error. After Bower walked, he and pinch runner Eddie Finsterbush moved into scoring position on another defensive miscue by the Cougars.  Altland’s single drove in both runners.

Ryan Popp followed Fox’s free pass with another two-run single that gave the Raiders a 9-2 lead. Popp later scored following yet another Harrisburg error off the bat of Ocker.  Drawbaugh’s triple to deep left field knocked in Ocker for run No. 11.  

After giving up a leadoff single in the bottom of the third, Flowers struck out the next three Harrisburg batters to keep the score unchanged.

MDTbaseball2Rain falls on Middletown’s Eddie Finsterbush during a victory over Harrisburg. The Blue Raiders scored 7 runs amid the raindrops to pull away from the Cougars and win, 13-2The Raiders plated 2 more runs in the top of the fourth when Altland scored following another Harrisburg fielding mistake and Flowers drew a bases-loaded walk with Sims on third.

From there it was simply up to Flowers and the defense to keep the Harrisburg runners off base.

The Cougars had two more at bats to try to extend the game, but could not get anything going in the fourth or fifth innings. The game ended early due to the 10-run rule.  

Lower Dauphin 5, Middletown 2

Try as they might, the Raiders simply could not outduel visiting Lower Dauphin on Friday.

The Falcons (15-5, 12-2) broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning and held on for the victory to claim the division title.

Sims gave it his best effort on the mound for the Middletown nine, striking out 9 Falcons in five innings of work.

And Ocker, who came on in the sixth with this team down by 3 runs, recorded five strikeouts against the six batters he faced to give the Raiders a chance.  

MDTbaseballPhotos By Jodi Ocker Middletown’s Jordan Flowers (7) bunts in a 5-2 loss to Lower Dauphin.But Lower Dauphin hurler Marshal Kiessling held the Blue Raiders scoreless in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to help nail down the win and the title.

Both teams went scoreless in the first inning before the Falcons broke the ice in the top of the second. Kaylor Kulina’s leadoff double was rewarded when teammate Kyle Fails poked a one-out, RBI single for the game’s initial score.

The Raiders, however, answered with a two-spot in the home half of the inning. Drawbaugh led off with a walk and Flowers laid down a perfect bunt single to reach base.  A throwing error on the play allowed Drawbaugh to make it all the way home for the tying score.  Flowers ran to third on the miscue.

One out later, Bower’s fielder’s choice grounder allowed Flowers to score the go-ahead run for the Middletown side.

But the Falcons knotted the score at 2-2 in the top of the third. Deon Stafford’s two-out single and stolen base set up the score that came on a Middletown error on Kulina’s hard grounder.

The 2-2 stalemate lasted until the top of the fifth when the Falcons plated the 3 runs that turned out to be the difference in the game.

Stafford’s double drove in Keissling for 1 run and another Middletown error allowed Stafford to score LD’s fourth run. Two batters later, Middletown’s Altland made the defensive play of the game as he crashed into the center field fence chasing a long fly ball by Fails. Altland somehow managed to hold onto the ball as he slumped to the ground, but the play also resulted in Lower Dauphin’s fifth run.  

In the bottom of the fifth, Altland, who was sporting a big bruise on his left cheek, singled with one out, but an inning-ending double play stopped a scoring threat by the Raiders.

Ocker struck out the side in the top of the sixth and the Raiders put another runner on base in the home half when Sims singled with one out. But, again, the home team was denied by Kiessling, who struck out the next two batters.

Three up and three down for Ocker in the top of the seventh kept the score unchanged, and the Raiders had one more chance to keep the game alive in the bottom of the inning. Bower singled with two outs, but a fielder’s choice force at second ended the Raiders’ hopes.

Larry Etter can be reached at larryetter66@gmail.com. 


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