WILLIAMSPORT - When the Mifflin County Babe Ruth all-stars started play, center fielder Tyler Powell was at or near the bottom of the lineup.
A good bit of hitting practice has paid off for Powell.
Sunday the lanky Powell drove in three runs with a single and a triple as Mifflin County mercy-ruled Chichester (Ridley Park) 13-3 in its final pool game at the Babe Ruth 15-year-old state championships at Logue Field.
The win pushed Mifflin County into the bracket portion of the tournament. The semifinals are set for 5 and 8 p.m. today (Monday) with the final on Tuesday. The state champion moves to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Aug. 1-7 at Atlantic Shore, N.J. Mifflin County finished pool play with a 3-1 record.
Powell wasn't the only hero for the Mifflin County 15s. Righty Nate Earnest allowed just four hits and fanned seven, walking three. Before Earnest took the field he had a six-run lead and his teammates added six more in the second inning. They piled up a dozen hits in those two frames.
Powell said the team puts emphasis on hitting.
"It was a good pitch and I just turned on it," Powell said of his double. "I started at the bottom (of the lineup) earlier in the season."
His practice paid off.
Mifflin County manager Bernie Howard said, "I know our team can hit and that certainly was a good start. We wanted to come out of the blocks and that was exactly our plan. We did a great job. We had our hitting shoes on today."
Howard said he was glad to get that effort from Earnest.
"He's a tough as nails," Howard said. "He's been doing such a job. We wanted to give him as much as we could."
Earnest took a no-hitter into the fifth but gave up four hits in that frame. Pete Mosley got the first hit, which was followed by another hit before Bobby Jones, who worked on the mound for the final four frames for Chichester, drove in a run. Chichester earlier scored a pair in the second helped by two walks and a hit batter.
Chichester started its ace, Eric Boaicco, but Mifflin County made short work of him, collecting six hits in the first frame. Catcher Lucas Hackenberg drove in a pair with a single and Jared Soles, Powell, Earnest and Aaron Sharp drove in runs with hits.
In the second, Powell plated two with his double and Tyler Hunter stroked a long triple.
Bensalem 8, Mifflin County 7
WILLIAMSPORT - Baseball can be a cruel game.
After a thrilling win and the league's first all-star triple play on Friday, the thrill of victory was not in the air Saturday as Mifflin County dropped its first game in pool play in the state tournament, losing to Bensalem, 8-7.
Mifflin County seemed to be in control of the game as it held a 7-2 lead going into the fifth inning. But Bensalem rallied for a single run in the fifth and scored five in the sixth to take an 8-7 lead going into the seventh.
Alex Hackenberg and Aaron Sharp shared duties on the mound with Hackenberg taking the loss.
Mifflin County had a big offensive day as it pounded out 13 hits. Lucas Harshbarger led the way with three hits, while Andrew Larson, Zach Hostetler, Sharp and Hackenberg each had two hits. Hackenberg drove in four runs and Nate Earnest had two runs batted in.
Tyler Powell had Mifflin County's only extra-base hit, a double.
Bensalem had 11 hits and five of those came in the sixth. Mifflin County also had an error in the fifth when Bensalem took the 8-7 lead.
Mifflin County tried to rally in the seventh. Earnest singled and Ty Hunter moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt. Sharp flew out to center for the second out. Then Larson laced a single to center and when Ernest tried to scored the tying run he was out at the plate.
Sentinel correspondent Ray Wilde contributed to this story.