MIFFLINTOWN With two outs in the top of the seventh and a 2-0 run deficit, the East Juniata baseball team found the two-out lightning it needed, pounding out seven hits and pushing across six runs to defeat cross-county rival Juniata 6-2 Tuesday in Mifflintown.
In the Tri-Valley League game, which pitted 9-2 East Juniata against 2-11 Juniata, it seemed as if the game would be a walk in the park for the Tigers, especially after East Juniata took the first contest by a margin of 16-0 when Tiger hurler Nick Lorenz tossed a no-hitter against the Indians on April 5 in Cocolamus.
However, someone forgot to tell the spunky Indians as they held their opponent to just four hits and no runs going into the top of the seventh.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Juniata’s Stephen Zearfaus, right, slides safely into third base as East Juniata’s Dillon Leonard waits for the throw Tuesday in Mifflintown.
"I have to give all the credit to coach Beward for setting up the game they had with the pitching they showed. It was awesome," East Juniata coach Tim Brubaker said. "I want to compliment coach Beward and his team for the effort they showed."
In a game that started out as a strong pitching duel between Juniata hurler Coleby Hambright and East Juniata ace Ryan Stuck, offense was hard to come by with both teams failing to get a run across during the first four innings.
But in the bottom of the fifth, the Juniata offense did not disappoint as it was able to manufacture the first run of the game.
With two outs, pinch runner Justin Mingle scored on an RBI single by catcher Chad Eberle, who blasted a grounder that took a sharp bounce and ricocheted of the knee of the East Juniata second baseman.
With a 1-0 lead, the Indians added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Dylan Loudenslager came up with the bases loaded and hustled out a slow rolling infield single to third, scoring Ty Treaster in the process.
Despite facing the bases loaded scenario for a majority of the inning, Stuck and his defense was able to shut down the Juniata offense with only one run crossing the plate. And then in the following inning, the Tigers put up their six game-winning runs on two outs.
"It was the phrase my seniors gave as I went in at the end of the game, the out that could have been," Juniata coach Nick Beward said. "We had two outs, runner on third, and couldn't get that last out. We couldn't get that last out. It changes the game when you score six runs in the top of the seventh and that is really hard to come back from. I can't say enough about the senior leadership. They had our kids fired up tonight."
Going into the Tigers' last at bat the pressure was all on the bat of Bailey Coder.
Coder got the inning started in grand fashion, slapping a single to right field. With teammate Dillon Leonard stepping to the plate, Coder got a good lead off first base and stole second easily, putting him in scoring position.
Leonard hustled out a grounder to third and in the process forced Juniata to overthrowing the first baseman, giving Leonard second and allowing Coder to score, cutting the lead to 2-1.
With two outs, Leonard was sitting on third base waiting to be brought in.
Up to bat came No. 3 hitter Lorenz, who wasted little time tying the game by blasting an RBI single. Lorenz then stole second, setting the stage for Jesse Watts.
Watts, who had been hitless until the seventh, hit a shot deep into the outfield. When the ball was thrown in from the outfield, Watts was sitting at second with an RBI double while Lorenz cruised home.
With the lead, East Juniata added some more insurance runs to help its cause.
Watts was replaced on the base paths by pinch runner Taran Sheaffer, whose visit to the field was a short one as he scored immediately on an RBI double by Stuck, upping the East Juniata lead to 4-2.
When the dust settled, the Tigers had built up a comfortable 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
Stuck took it from there getting three out of the four batters he faced in the inning en route to the complete game victory.
Leading the offense for East Juniata was Nick Stahr, who went 3-for-4.
East Juniata (9-2, 7-2) travels to Penns Valley today while Juniata (2-11) travels to Lancaster Country Day Thursday.