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Keystone Conquest: Mifflin County (PA) Wins Babe Ruth World Series

By jvanarkel, August 18, 2016

The conventional wisdom says the team which makes the fewest mistakes will win the championship. For Mifflin County (PA), however, winning the 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series championship meant finding ways to overcome their own mistakes.

Mifflin County overcame four errors in the first three innings, rallied from a 3-1 deficit and beat Pearl City (HI) 5-3 in the championship game of the Babe Ruth World Series at the Ottumwa Youth Baseball Complex. First baseman Casey Conner was named the outstanding player of the series, as the Pennsylvanians won their final four games after starting the tournament 1-1.

Early on, the game had the makings of a higher-scoring affair. Mifflin County took the lead in the first, but could have had a lot more; their first three hitters walked, but a run-scoring double play and a strikeout limited the damage to one run. Pearl City tied it in the second, scoring a run on two walks and two errors, but saw the go-ahead run cut down at home on two perfect throws from Mifflin left fielder Jayden Jackson and third baseman Brian Yetter.

The bigger mistakes for Mifflin County came in the top of the third. After a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and Mifflin’s third error of the game, Pearl City had runners on the corners and one out. Jaron Yoshikane’s RBI single put the Hawaiians in front, and another run scored on the play when the ball got past the outfielder for another error.

The game started to turn in Mifflin County’s favor on the next play. Conner, who started the game on the mound, threw what appeared to be a wild pitch. Yoshikane tried to score from the third, but the ball ricocheted back to catcher Ethan Eichhorn, who threw to Conner covering the plate for the tag out. Conner’s pitching thumb was inadvertently spiked on the play, and after walking the next two batters, he was relieved by Cole Schlegel, who got the final out of the inning.

Conner would stay in the game at first base, and play a key role in Mifflin’s rally in the bottom of the third. After the first two batters reached, Brycen Hassinger hit an RBI single, and this time it was the Pennsylvanians’ turn to add a second run as the throw to the infield got away for a Pearl City error. That tied the game, and one out later, Conner singled to drive in Hassinger and put Mifflin County back in the lead.

From that point, the game settled into a pitchers’ duel between relievers. Schlegel tossed 3 1/3 of scoreless relief for Mifflin County. Jayton Peng, who came on with no outs in the third inning and was charged with the unearned run that put Pearl City behind, settled down to retire eight batters in a row through the fifth inning.

Conner, however, wasn’t yet done making his case as the World Series Most Outstanding Player. His final at-bat was a solo home run leading off the sixth inning to double Mifflin County’s lead. That insurance run gained importance in the top of the seventh, when Schlegel walked the first two Pearl City batters. He then gave way on the mound to Colby Bodtorf, who promptly retired the next two hitters on a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout.

With just one out between Mifflin County and a championship, Bodtorf hit Pearl City slugger Maka Malama with a pitch. That loaded the bases for Lee Matsuzaki, who would not go down easily. He fouled off four pitches with two strikes, and took the at-bat to nine pitches before Bodtorf finally struck him out swinging on a high fastball, setting off a Mifflin County dogpile near home plate.

In addition to Most Outstanding Player, Conner earned World Series batting champion honors with a .588 batting average, and a spot on the all-World Series team. Botdorf and Yetter joined Conner on the all-series team from Mifflin County, and Pearl City also had three all-series honorees. The team from Waterford (CT) earned the World Series Sportsmanship Award.

13-YEAR-OLD BABE RUTH ALL-WORLD SERIES TEAM

P Colby Bodtorf, Mifflin County

P Michael Yamaguchi, Pearl City

C Drew Clouse, West Fargo

1B Casey Conner, Mifflin County

2B Shawn Penyak, Sarasota

3B Ryan O’Connell, Waterford

SS Alex Urlaub, West Fargo

OF Jaron Yoshikane, Pearl City

OF Sterling Lipscomb, Spokane

OF Randen Kohagura, Pearl City

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