The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

July 3, 2014

Little League Baseball: Mifflinburg Majors stay alive

NORTHUMBERLAND — Down 2-0 early, Mifflinburg needed a spark to stay alive in the District 13 Area II Major Division tournament. The Union County team got it from Darin Miller.

Miller belted a pair of doubles, including a go-ahead three-run blast in the fourth inning, and Mifflinburg advanced to the finals with an 8-5 win over Milton.

The game didn’t start as well for Miller and his teammates. Milton, which finished the season 2-2, jumped all over Mifflinburg in the home first. Dillon Stokes led off with a monster home run over the left-field fence on the second pitch he saw and the second batter, Bryce Gower, nearly hit one out, but settled for a double. He later scored on a passed ball.

Meanwhile, the hard-hitting Miller went down swinging in the first and was held to a single on a rocket that shortstop Stokes backhanded. Mifflinburg got on the board on a bases-loaded walk to Bryce Hauger, but left the bases loaded.

Mifflinburg’s only negative in the win was that it struck out 14 times, including the final out of every inning.

“The strikeouts just encourage me more to get an extra-base hit,” Miller said.

He said that his team gets down when the other team scores runs early, but once his team starts scoring runs, “we cheer up.”

And, in the fourth inning, it was Miller time.

After Mifflinburg loaded the bases on a pair of walks and an infield single by Malick Valencia, Miller turned on a 1-0 pitch, driving it deep into the left-field corner to clear the bases and give his team a 4-2 lead it would not relinquish.

“Oh, that was a big momentum boost,” Mifflinburg manager Rob Enders said. “We’ve got to get production from as much of the lineup as we can, but when our big hitters are up, the kids that really hit the ball hard, it charges the team up.”

Enders said he didn’t say a lot to his players when they fell behind early, but he said he thought they looked a bit lethargic early in the game.

“They just weren’t into it that first inning and they gave up the home run and then (Milton) scored another run in that inning on a double,” Enders said. “I was glad to see them come back. I wasn’t sure how they were going to react because it was hot tonight.

They were a little bit asleep but they woke up tonight and they did well. I’m proud of them,” he said.

Miller’s hit seemed to light a fire under the team. After a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Mifflinburg tacked on three more runs for a six-run inning.

Jacob Brooks doubled home Miller, Terry Bennage reached on an error, which was followed by two walks and a pair of wild pitches, to put Mifflinburg ahead 7-2.

Milton got one back in the fourth on a double by Nick Chubb and an RBI single by Owen Keister, but new pitcher Cade Dressler retired the next three in order on a fielder’s choice grounder and a pair of strikeouts.

Miller doubled again in the fifth, a bullet off the third baseman’s glove, and scored on an infield error on a grounder by Hauger. Milton scored single runs in the fifth and sixth, first on an RBI by Stokes and double by Dalton Guisewite, then on a double by Owen Keister and a groundout by Billy Ferguson.

Mifflinburg (4-1) now plays unbeaten Selinsgrove at 5:30 today at Acorn Park. Mifflinburg must beat the Snyder Countians twice to advance to play the Area I champion.

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