Diehl, Danville walk-off Mifflinburg for 5th straight win

Apr. 30—DANVILLE — Lincoln Diehl missed Danville's first game against Mifflinburg three weeks ago with a fever.

The Ironmen's junior designated hitter might try to convince you he missed most of the rematch, too. He popped out in his first two at-bats Monday, the second time ending a three-run rally.

However, Diehl was given a chance for redemption in the last of the seventh inning, and he delivered a walk-off single to cap Danville's comeback for a 5-4 win over the division-leading Wildcats in a Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II battle.

"My previous two at-bats, I was really dipping (my shoulder). So I was just trying to stay flat (through the hitting zone), and I did," said Diehl. "Just see ball, hit ball — that's what the coaches always say."

The Ironmen took a 3-0 lead after three innings, but they were blanked for the next three frames by Mifflinburg senior Lane Hook while his team clawed in front 4-3.

The Wildcats committed the game's only errors to open the home seventh, allowing the Danville's first two batters to reach base and score the tying run. A flyout moved the potential winning run to third base, and Mifflinburg intentionally walked consecutive Ironmen to set up a force out at the plate.

Diehl, who was walked on four pitches in his only other at-bat against Hook, laced the righty's first pitch through the left side of the infield to give Danville its fifth straight win.

"(Hook) was throwing a lot of first-pitch fastballs pretty consistently, so I was ready for that," Diehl said. "I was ready to hit, especially because there was only one out. There wasn't as much pressure as if there were two outs."

The Ironmen (11-3 overall, 7-2 HAC-II) knocked Mifflinburg from the ranks of the unbeaten within the division. The Wildcats (10-4, 5-1) had won three straight HAC-II games and six of eight games overall, including a nine-inning home win over Danville on April 10.

"I think the importance of this win is very difficult to quantify," said Ironmen coach Devin Knorr. "They are defending district champions, a well-schooled team with some really, really good baseball players. The fact they beat us once in a close game might have provided a little extra motivation. But if you want to be a team that's going to contend for a league and district championship, you've got to beat the big boys on the block. Mifflinburg, to their credit, certainly fits that bill.

"It's a huge win for out kids. Really proud of how they fought. Says a lot about where we are."

The Wildcats still lead Danville and Montoursville (10-2, 5-2) in the loss column, with one set to lose ground Wednesday when the Warriors travel to Danville.

"We're going to be OK," said Mifflinburg coach Tom Church. "You're not going to win them all. I told them you're not going to win every game in this league. Somebody bit us, and that's the way it goes."

Pitching and defense ruled the early portion of Monday's game.

Danville junior right-hander Cole Duffy pitched around a one-out walk and single in the first inning with a string of eight outs that carried him through the third.

Mifflinburg junior lefty Mason Schneck struck out a pair following a one-out walk in the first and kept the game scoreless into the home third. The Ironmen filled the bases with no outs against him with two walks around a Carter Raup bunt single. Matt Acor and Shultz each lofted sacrifice flies to center field, and another run scored on a wild pitch to put Danville up 3-0.

The Wildcats answered with a pair of two-out runs in the fourth knocked in by Aaron Bolick during a terrific at-bat. The sophomore fouled off a trio of two-strike pitches before drilling a double to deep left. Another Mifflinburg youngster, freshman Jaden Boyer, worked a run-scoring walk with two outs in the fifth — laying off a close 2-2 pitch — to tie the score at 3.

The Wildcats' go-ahead run also scored with two outs. Leadoff batter Sean Grodotzke lofted a run-and-hit fly high behind first base that scored Bolick from second base in the sixth.

Mifflinburg's leading batters — Zeb Hufnagle (.476) and Troy Dressler (.426) — combined to go 1-for-5 with a run scored Monday. The seniors went 3-for-12 with two runs and no RBIs in the teams' two games.

"They're just two fabulous baseball players, kids that are going to go on to play collegiate baseball and possibly beyond, that have just been thorns in our side for four years," Knorr said. "When you look at the spray charts for those two kids, they've terrorized us for four years. Our kids, I thought, did a great job of mixing pitches and mixing locations to keep them off balance a little bit.

"The caveat to that is, other guys in their lineup were able to step up and put them in real good spots."

Danville's winning rally began with a dropped third strike and errant throw that put Duffy on base. Duffy stole second ahead of an Eli Welliver bunt that stayed fair along the first-base line and was fielded and thrown wildly to first, allowing the tying run to score. Hook coaxed a flyout before the intentional walks to Shultz and Jack Gibson set the stage for Diehl's heroics.

"The mindset is if (Duffy is) out, they don't do what they did then," said Church. "They have nobody on. There's no bunting; there's no nothing. We just play loosely."



Mifflinburg;000;211;0 — 4-4-2

Danville;003;000;2 — 5-4-0

Winning run scored with 1 out

Mason Schneck, Lane Hook (4) and Nick Lloyd, Jaden Boyer (4). Cole Duffy, Wyatt Shultz (5) and Jack Gibson.

WP: Shultz. LP: Hook.

Mifflinburg: Sean Grodotzke 1-for-3, RBI; Troy Dressler 1-for-2, run; Boyer RBI; Kaiden Kmett run; Aaron Bolick 1-for-2, double, run, 2 RBIs; Hook 1-for-3, run.

Danville: Duffy 2 runs; Matt Acor RBI; Eli Welliver run; Shultz RBI; Lincoln Diehl 1-for-3, RBI; Daniel Walker 1-for-2; Garrett Hoffman 1-for-2, run; Carter Raup 1-for-2, run.