LEWISTOWN - Mifflin County's Lucas McKay stepped to the mound in the top of the seventh against Clearfield with a 5-0 lead and just one hit given up in his previous six innings of work, but things got a little dicey in the final half inning of the game.
McKay gave up one run, two hits and two of his five total walks in the inning, but with the bases loaded the same defense that had paced Mifflin County throughout the entire game came up with a big double play to give the locals a 5-1 win for the first round of the Central Penn League American Legion Baseball tournament.
"I started walking people but I just wanted to get out of the game real fast," McKay said, and that's exactly what he did.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Mifflin County’s Lucas McKay delivers the first pitch of the game against Clearfield Friday evening in Lewistown.. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
After two walks and a single from Brandon Orsich, pinch hitter Logan Lykens had his moment of glory at the plate when he dropped a hit into right field, yielding Clearfield's third and last hit of the game and its only run. But after that small dip in performance, McKay got right back in action, striking out Devon Jones then grabbing a one hopper back to the mound to end the game with a 1-6-3 double play.
"He was going to hang around until the tying run got on second base, and then I would have went for someone else," Mifflin County coach Larry Wolfe said of his decision to keep McKay on the mound even after he loaded the bases, but the double play, which was one of two Mifflin County turned, made any moves by Wolfe unnecessary.
McKay had four strikeouts in the contest, but most of his success was pitching to contact and letting the defense do the work.
"I was just locating my fastball real well. Every time they hit it, it was right to one of our fielders," McKay said, and this proved to be important at many points throughout the game.
In the first and second, quick plays in the infield kept Clearfield hitless. McKay then gave up his first hit in the third, but a strikeout and a 4-6-3 double play got Mifflin County out of the inning without a scratch. Brandon Orsich had reached second in the second on catcher's interference then a passed ball, but never advanced past that point.
In the fourth, six straight balls from McKay had catch Cy Treaster concerned, so he took a trip to the mound for a chat. However, his worries were quickly put to rest when a strikeout and a pickoff play at first by McKay again stifled any Clearfield offensive threats.
An error in the fifth and a walk in the sixth yielded one Clearfield runner apiece, but again timely plays in the infield and a nice grab in left field by Aaron Michaels maintained Mifflin County's scoring cushion.
On the offense, Mifflin County was very efficient in the second through the fourth, scoring three runs on four hits. The first run came across when Cy Treaster dropped a single in left field - a ball Clearfield's Devon Jones dove for and just missed, allowing Drew Hannon to reach home when Jones and center fielder Curt Collins had trouble locating the ball for the quick relay home.
The second run crossed when Michaels led off with a double before reaching third on a Kyle Bodtorf sacrifice bunt then reaching home on a sacrifice fly to center by Isaac Strohecker. An RBI double from Treaster in the fourth brought Hannon around from third.
Mifflin County then broke open the hitting in the fifth and sixth, notching three hits per inning, as an RBI single to left from Heath Hidlay and a run-scoring ground-rule double from Bodtorf completed Mifflin County's runs with five.
Ronny Ogden took the loss for Clearfield, handing out three strikeouts and allowing 10 hits in his six innings of work.
The locals are now 1-0 in the postseason and will host State College, a 3-2 winner over Beech Creek, at 2 p.m. today. The win also guarantees Mifflin County will play Sunday - at home, win or lose - and that game will be at 6 p.m. because the Centre County League's Lewistown Predators have the field at 2.