By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG -- Maybe Gavin Enders should use a teammate's bat in every game.
Enders hit the game-winning home run using teammate Tony Bennage's bat Sunday in Mifflinburg's 9-8 seven-inning win over Juniata in the District 13 10-11 Division Area II tournament.
Enders was forced to switch sticks during an at-bat in the fifth inning because his original bat was not listed among the composite bats approved for competition. Enders quickly adjusted to the new bat, sending a 3-1 pitch from Jamie Bailor well over the left-field fence in the top of the seventh to break an eight-all tie.
The game-winner was the first Little League home run Enders ever hit.
"It was kind of a shock when I hit it, because I wasn't expecting it," he said.
The home run was the exclamation point on Enders' strong offensive performance, that included two doubles, three RBis and the homer.
"Gavin just did a fantastic job for us," Mifflinburg manager Gregg Rokavec said.
The long ball from Enders capped a game that was a true tale of two halves. Mifflinburg raced out to an early 8-1 lead before Juniata rallied to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
"We got deflated a little bit," Rokavec said of losing a seven-run lead. "We reminded ourselves of the way we play heads-up baseball. We came back and we battled back. It was fantastic."
Like Mifflinburg, Juniata found its own late-game heroics from Devon Nealman.
Juniata was down to its last out when Nealman came to the plate. Jacob Brooks had settled in relief for Mifflinburg, retiring five straight batters on strikes before Nealman stepped in with a chance to tie the game. He fought off a pitch high-and-inside from Brooks and sent the ball to deep left-center for a tying homer.