WINGATE - When the Mifflin County Huskies visited Doc Etters Field for a baseball game against Bald Eagle Area Thursday, the contest turned out to be anything but a classic.
The two teams combined to score 29 runs on just 19 hits. The Huskies and Eagles also combined for 10 errors, 22 walks, a couple of hit batsmen and probably a few other things that went unnoticed.
However, regardless of how the game unfolded, the Huskies were able to board their bus and head back over the Seven Mountains with an 18-11 win and that made coach Travis Zook a happy camper.
"It is just good to get out of there with a win," Zook said. "I felt pretty comfortable in the fourth inning with the 10-3 lead, but with some walks and errors, we kind of let them back in the game. We let them back in it, but we managed to find a way to stay on course to do what we had to do to come away with the win."
While Zook was happy with the win, BEA coach Jim Gardner was left scratching his head trying to decide whether wild-and-woolly contests are what area baseball has become, especially in the 2012 season.
"I just don't know from day to day what to expect when we come out here to play a game," Gardner said. "I fully expected a low-scoring pitcher's game today, especially with who they had pitching and who we had pitching. But as it turned out, it was anything but that."
Mifflin County hosts Juniata Monday
The Huskies opened the scoring in the first with four runs, but the Eagles answered right back with three of their own.
Mifflin County threatened to blow the game wide open with six runs in the fourth to go on top 10-3, but here come the Eagles with a six-pack of their own in the fifth to cut the deficit to a single run.
The two teams traded pairs of runs in the sixth to make the score 12-11 in favor of the visitors, but just as they had done earlier in the game, the Huskies crossed the plate another six times to set the final.
"We showed great character battling back, but then we turned around and handed them a bunch more runs," Gardner said. "That is frustrating because this group of kids, although they are young, are good ball players. I thought that defense would be a strength of our club, but right now, we aren't playing to our strengths. We didn't get on top by pitching ahead and as a result, we dug ourselves some holes when that happened.
"Mifflin County is a good ball club and when you make the mistakes we made today, they are going to make you pay. You can't give good ball clubs anything, and we are handing things out left and right."
With his team only down by a run (12-11), Gardner felt the Eagles had put themselves in a position to win the game.
"At that point in the game, we had to feel like we had the momentum in the game," Gardner said. "What we needed to go was go out and throw strikes and execute some basics of the game. If we would have done that, I felt the game could have been ours."
Although one might not expect it by just looking at the final score, Husky starter Seth Wagner and closer Tanner Kibe combined for some good mound work.
"I thought our pitchers did a good job and we can't expect to do much better with five errors behind them," Zook said. "Our defense has been pretty solid for us all year, but it wasn't today and we have to shore that up. I am not too disappointed in the pitching because at times, they found the spots and also did a good job adjusting to the umpire. I know it is difficult for kids at this level to adjust their pitching to the way an umpire is calling the game, but if we are going to be a solid club as we head into the playoffs, we are going to have to be able to do that."
Although the Huskies finished with a baker's dozen hits, some of their outs were hard hit balls and Zook felt that was a good sign.
"I thought our players went to the plate today with a great plan and they were able to make good contact for the most part," Zook said. "I think we understood the umpire's zone and even when we got down two strikes, the kids were putting the ball in play and forcing them to make plays. If you put the ball in play with a tough field like we had today, good things can happen and all of those runs start to add up."
The Huskies will hit the road again this afternoon when they visit Bellefonte for a game with the Red Raiders. First pitch for that contest is set for 4:30 p.m.