LEWISBURG — Winning is contagious, and it’s struck Lewisburg’s American Legion baseball team in a big way.
Behind a gutsy pitching performance from Jack Landis, Lewisburg Post 182 won its fourth straight game by taking a 5-1 Susquehanna Valley American Legion League West Branch victory over Mifflinburg Post 410 Friday at Kelly Township Fields.
Landis went the distance for Lewisburg, and it gave Post 182 (4-1) a solid win over its rival from western Union County.
“It’s always good to go out and beat Mifflinburg because they are a very good team and they have a lot of talent,” said Lewisburg manager Luke Smith. “They were missing some guys today, but the guys they had on the field played pretty well and (Tony) Bennage pitched well.”
Mifflinburg (1-5) was missing its Nos. 2, 3 and 6 hitters from the lineup Friday, but the end result wasn’t what manager Shawn Cooper was expecting out of his players — especially after his team started out by leaving the bases loaded in the first.
“Yeah, I think in the first inning we basically had nobody out and didn’t score. Lewisburg got runners on and we kicked the ball around,” said Cooper. “After the first I don’t think the kids had their heads (on straight) and got out of the funk they were in the whole game.
“It certainly was the not the way we wanted to represent ourselves (Friday). We didn’t play well,” added Cooper. “Landis is a good pitcher, and I think we underestimated him.”
In the first, Post 410 loaded the bases after Eric Zimmerman hit a leadoff double, Gavin Enders was hit by a pitch and Garrett Becker walked.
However, Landis worked his way out of the jam by getting Josh Foster to strike out looking and then getting Bryce Koonsman to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
“Landis got into a little bit of a jam in the first, but he got out of it,” said Smith. “I have to give credit to (shortstop Aaron) Strosser and (second baseman Colt) Kline. Landis knows he has a good defense behind him, and he’s not afraid to pitch into contact.
“Landis knows we are going to make the plays (behind him), and he knows he has the stuff to get batters out,” added Lewisburg’s manager.
In the bottom of the first Post 182 scored all the runs it would need on an RBI single by Josh Heath to plate Aaron Hoover before Colt Kline drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home Heath.
Lewisburg’s lead grew to 3-0 in the fourth when Colt Kline led off with a double, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored when Kaiden Wagner grounded out to first.
Mifflinburg got a run back in the sixth with a two-out RBI single by Garrett Becker that scored Gavin Martin after the latter led off the inning with a single.
But Post 182 kept pulling away as the hosts tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Hoover and a sacrifice fly by Strosser.
Seeing his team score those two late runs was a good sign according to Lewisburg’s manager.
“In the last couple of games we scored early, but not so much later in games. Today I was really happy, and to get those two runs was huge for us,” said Smith. “In the sixth Mifflinburg brought in (Allen Stamm) and he was throwing well, but we took advantage of the pitches we were getting and it was good to see us get some clutch hitting there and some good baserunning as well.”
That was more than enough for Landis, whose 1-2-3 seventh nailed down the complete-game win for Post 182 even though manager Smith contemplated taking his starter out following the sixth inning.
Landis, meanwhile, finished with a four-hitter. He struck out five, walked one and gave up just the one earned run.
“I couldn’t rationalize taking Landis out of the game. He had a low pitch count going into the seventh and he wanted (the ball),” said Smith. “I was a little skeptical and I thought about bringing Hoover in, but (Landis) was outstanding today.
“Landis is pitching confidently right now, and it shows,” Smith added.
Lewisburg is back in action Monday with a home game against Montoursville at 5:45 p.m. for the first of three home games next week for Post 182.
It’s a chance for the team to really start rolling.
“I think right now we’re obviously taking it on a game-to-game basis. In Legion you can have a completely different team from one day to the next,” said Smith. “One of the things I love about our team is that we have 12-13 guys who are always going to be there, and know that any of those guys can make plays for us.”
Mifflinburg plays its next game at 5:45 p.m., Tuesday at Montoursville, as Cooper tries to get his team back on track.
“Hopefully we’ll have all of our regulars there. We have to get our regular sticks back in the lineup and we’ll be fine. Every Legion team goes through this where players go away for a week and aren’t there,” said Mifflinburg’s manager.
“The kids we have (on the field) need to produce, and the veterans who are there have to step it up a notch. We have a ton of talented sticks — they just have to start hitting.”
Lewisburg 5, Mifflinburg 1
Mifflinburg 000 001 0 — 1-4-2
Lewisburg 200 102 x — 5-8-0
Jack Landis and Kadyn Magyar. Tony Bennage, Allen Stamm (6) and Josh Foster.
WP: Landis. LP: Bennage.
Mifflinburg hitters: Eric Zimmerman, double; Garrett Becker, 2-for-2, walk, RBI; Gavin Martin, single, run scored.
Lewisburg hitters: Andrew Ramirez, single, walk; Aaron Hoover, 2-for-3, walk, RBI, run scored; Aaron Strosser, single, RBI; Josh Heath, single, RBI, run; Jacob Brooks, single, walk; Landis, walk; Colt Kline, 2-for-2, double, walk, RBI, 2 runs; Kaiden Wagner, walk, RBI, run.