By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Turns out Oakley Whitesel wasn't purposely upping his degree of difficulty to show off Monday.
Mifflinburg's senior ace practically gave Selinsgrove two first-inning runs with a throwing error. He had to keep Seals at third base in consecutive middle innings, and left another pair at second in the later frames.
On top of that, the left-hander threw first-pitch strikes to just 13 of the 32 batters he faced. Not typically a blueprint for success. Yet Whitesel gutted out a complete-game win, surprising himself with 10 strikeouts.
"I didn't think I had 10-strikeout stuff at all," he said. "I was hitting my spots and they were just missing, I guess."
The Wildcats scored five runs in the third inning on three straight two-out hits, and Whitesel made them stand up in the face of several Selinsgrove threats for a 5-3 win.
"It just shows his mentality of getting people out, not panicking when he needs to bear down, and his senior leadership," said Mifflinburg coach Tom Church. "It wasn't a good game for Oakley. It was one of those games where he struggled and couldn't find the strike zone at times. He just battled and got through it.
"He showed his true heart because he could have folded."
The Wildcats (3-2 overall and HAC-I) moved above .500 for the first time in almost a year; a one-run loss April 13 at Selinsgrove made them 4-3 in a season that ended a win shy of the playoffs.
Selinsgrove (1-4, 1-4) endured a two-run division loss for the third time this season.
"We're right there; we could very easily be 4-1 at this point," said Seals coach Brent Beiler. "We had our chances (Monday) -- put guys on base and in scoring position with nobody out maybe three times -- and couldn't put it together. We've got to learn to get them across."