By brian holtzapple
HERSHEY – The Hamburg American Legion baseball team has been a thorn in Mifflinburg’s side the past two PA Division 2 State Tournaments.
Hamburg reared its ugly head once again on Sunday, as the Reds got up early on Mifflinburg and pulled away for a 6-1 victory at Hershey High School’s Memorial Field.
It was the first loss since early in the season for Mifflinburg (18-2), and now Post 410 has to bounce back and play Hamburg once again in a decisive second game tonight at 7 p.m. for the state championship.
However, two-time defending champion Hamburg better beware. That’s because Mifflinburg never has two bad games in a row.
“We were due to throw a stinker eventually. We’ve really been on a roll here. I think we won something like 15 or 16 games in a row,” said Mifflinburg manager Shawn Cooper. “It’s a bad time to play our worst game of the season, but there’s tomorrow fortunately for us.
“I told the guys to put the game behind them, get a good night’s sleep and get back here (Monday night) and play our kind of ball,” added Mifflinbug’s manager.
A two-run single by Brady Adams gave Hamburg a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The Reds’ lead grew to 3-0 an inning later as they capitalized on a costly error by Post 410 when a short fly ball off the bat of Austin Gromlich landed untouched between Mifflinburg’s Michael Warren, Tony Bennage and Bryce Koonsman.
“No, (those three runs) didn’t help (the outcome), but they didn’t scare us either. We were only down 2-0 after the first inning – Tony (Bennage) struggled a little bit – but we were very confident and we were certain we could hit (Hamburg starting pitcher Ethan Naftzinger),” said Cooper.
“I tip my hat to (Naftzinger). He just kept pounding the strike zone, and we helped him out by swinging at a lot of first pitches, which I preach to these guys over and over – be aggressive in the box. But once we got behind by three runs we should’ve been a little more selective in the box, but that’s not our brand. We’re going to swing if the ball is in the zone, and we like it.”
A three-run fifth by Hamburg put the game out of reach for Mifflinburg, but Post 410 did show signs of life late when Michael Warren hit an RBI single to score Eric Zimmerman in the sixth after the latter hit a one-out double to center.
Mifflinburg will need more of what it showed in the first two games of the tournament, where Post 410 opened with an 8-6 win over McConnellsburg on Saturday before blowing out Young Township 15-0 in five innings earlier on Sunday.
“We don’t play two bad ballgames in a row. This Hamburg team is a good team, but they’re going to have to be on their ‘A’ game again (tonight),” said Cooper. “We came out here I think maybe a little too overconfident. I think we got a little shell-shocked when we got down 3-0, but (tonight) should be interesting.”
PA American Legion Division 2 State Tournament
At Hershey High School’s Memorial Field
Young Twp 0 (5 inn.)
Young Twp 000 00 — 0-2-1
Mifflinburg 680 1x — 15-9-0
Ethan Prugh, Nate Slapinski (1), Rhys Davies (2), Logan Bonnoni (2) and Brice Laurenti; Tony Bennage, Allen Stamm (3), Gavin Martin (5) and Josh Foster.
WP: Bennage; LP: Prugh.
Young Township hitters: Brady Yard, 1-for-2; Braden Astolos, 1-for-1, walk; Prugh, hbp, walk.
Mifflinburg hitters: Eric Zimmerman, 2-for-3, 2 runs, triple, 3 stolen bases, 4 RBI; Colin Miller, 2-for-3, 2 runs, triple, 4 RBI; Foster, 2-for-2, 2 runs, hbp, walk, RBI; Bryce Koonsman, 2-for-2, 2 runs, 2 walks, RBI; Warren, 1-for-2, 2 runs, HR (4th, solo), hbp, SF, 2 RBIs; Gavin Enders, walk, hbp, stolen base, RBI; Denzel Sampsell, 2 runs, RBI; Mason Cooper, run, walk, RBI; Reed Wagner, run, walk, stolen base.
Mifflinburg 000 001 0 — 1-5-3
Hamburg 210 030 x — 6-8-0
Tony Bennage, Reed Wagner (5) and Josh Foster; Ethan Naftzinger and Austin Gromlich.
WP: Naftzinger. LP: Bennage.
Mifflinburg: Eric Zimmerman 2-for-3, run, double, stolen base; Michael Warren 1-for-3, RBI; Bryce Koonsman 1-for-3; Colin Miller 1-for-2. Hamburg: Tarik Feick 2-for-3, run, stolen base; Brady Adams 2-for-4, 2 RBIs; Naftzinger 1-for-2, 2 runs, walk; Reece Adam 1-for-2, run, 2 sacs; A.Gromlich 1-for-4, RBI; Jarod Sterner 1-for-4; Colin Gromlich 0-for-2, run, walk; Cory Evangelista 0-for-2, run, walk, hbp.
McConnellsburg 500 100 0 — 6-5-1
Mifflinburg 221 003 x — 8-13-1
Walker Funk, Gabe Stotler (6) and Colton Souders; Mike Warren, Reed Wagner (5), Eric Zimmerman (7) and Josh Foster.
WP: Wagner, LP: Stotler, S: Zimmerman.
McConnellsburg hitters: Souders, 1-for-3, run, HR (1st, 2 on), 3 RBI; Branden Lynch, 1-for-3, run, RBI; Cooper Grove, 1-for-3, RBI; Brycen Hoffman, 1-for-1, run, 2 walks, stolen base; Grayson Hall, 1-for-4; Donovan Garlock, 2 runs, 2 walks; Stotler, run, walk.
Mifflinburg hitters: Warren, 3-for-4, double, 4 RBI; Wagner, 2-for-3, 2 runs, walk; Denzel Sampsell, 2-for-4, run; Zimmerman, 1-for-2, 2 runs, walk, sac fly, RBI; Koonsman, 1-for-4, run, HR (3rd, solo), RBI; Foster, 1-for-3, walk; Ethan Hoy, 1-for-3, run; Colin Miller, 1-for-3, Gavin Enders, 1-for-2, run; Garrett Becker, RBI.