WILLIAMSPORT - You can call this one "The Miracle at West End."
The Mifflin County Babe Ruth 15-year-olds scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to edge Bensalem, 11-10, Monday afternoon in the Pennsylvania state tournament.
But the final score was only a small part of this game.
Bensalem just wasn't any team, but was the defending state champion - and Mifflin County was down twice, 7-1 and 10-7, and battled back for the win.
The game had more twists and turns than a roller coaster.
"People may get tired of hearing this, but this was a total team victory," said Bernie Howard, the Mifflin County manager, "This game had a little bit of everything in it. We dug down deep and faught back not once, but twice."
"There were so many heores today," Howard said. "It's hard to mention them all. Our two pitchers did a great job, Ross Torquato and Lucas McKay. This was arguably one of the best teams in state. Offensivley, we collected 16 hits against one of the top pitching staffs in the tournament."
With the win, Mifflin County is 3-1 in pool play and guaranteed a spot in the single-elimination bracket that will determine the champion, starting Wednesday. Mifflin County will learn its next game time and opponent after today's final pool games are completed.
With the score tied 10-10, Mifflin County had to rally for the third time.
Torquato started the eighth by grounding out to second, but Max Remy walked. Carter Spade, who finished with three hits, then laid down a bunt as he beat it out by sliding into first.
McKay followed with his fourth hit of the day, a single up the middle that loaded the bases. Drew Hannon hit into a fielder's choice and then it came down to Hunter Shuff.
Shuff lined a shot to centerfield and when the Bensalem centerfielder misplayed the ball, Spade rushed home with the winning run.
The middle of the line-up was impressive for Mifflin County on Monday as Spade, McKay, Hannon and Shuff collected 12 of the 16 hits.
Mifflin County jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning as Spade singled, McKay doubled and Hannon knocked in McKay with a single.
It looked like Mifflin County was in control of the game as it was going to take a 2-0 lead in the third, but after McKay flew out to centerfield, Remy tug up for the second run of the game.
Or so it looked - but Remy was called out for leaving third too soon.
At that point, the momentum swung toward Bensalem. The District 3 champion scored seven runs in the inning and knocked Torquato, the Mifflin County starting pitcher, off the mound.
McKay got the last out and then held Bensalem to just three runs the rest of the way. He struck out five, walked two and gave up two hits.
Down 7-1, Mifflin County battled back.
The inning started with back-to-back-to-back, doubles. Hannon led off the inning and Shuff knocked him home. Lutz then drilled another pitch for a two-base hit. Hunter Walker knocked Lutz home with a single. He later scored on a wild pitch. Torquato and Remy each reached on Bensalem miscues. The Remy miscue scored Torquato.
McKay then knocked in Remy with a base hit and the game was tied 7-7.
It looked like Mifflin County was going to into the sixth inning still tied as McKay had two outs with a runner on third and struck out Michael Kirby, but the Mifflin County catcher threw away the third strike as Kirby swung and missed and then started to first.
That mistake led to three Bensalem runs.
Mifflin County rallied again.
McKay led off with a double and Hannon followed with an RBI single. Hannon stole second and Shuff singled him home making it 10-9. Shuff then stole second and moved to third on a ground out to third base.
At point in the game, Howard went to one of his favorite plays, the squeeze. And Walker executed it perfectly as Shuff raced home with the tying run.
"You always need to play a little small ball," Howard said.
Defensively, Remy and Walker were the stars. Remy made two outstanding catches from his second base postition and in the second inning he had the highlight of the day as he went deep in the hole on a ground ball and made a throw from his knees for the third out of the inning.
Walker, Mifflin County's shortstop, stopped an infield hit that was going up the middle in the sixth inning, saving a run. In the eighth, Walker jumped high for a line drive that saved another run.
Notes: This marked the first time that Mifflin County has beaten Bensalem; it was 0-4 going into the game. ... It was Mifflin County's 94th one-run win. Mifflin County has a 94-66 record in one run games. ... The last Mifflin County one-run win also came in Williamsport when Mifflin County beat West End, 7-6, in a 14-year-old game. West End also was a defending state champion. ... McKay has now become just the fifth player in league history to have four or more hits in two games. The other four players are Colton Spade, Hunter Shuff, Carter Spade and Jordan Marshall. ... This marked the 19th game that Mifflin County played that both teams scored in double digits. Mifflin County has an 11-8 record in those games.