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Hufnagle, Schneck carry Mifflinburg past Midd-West

Apr. 9—BEAVER SPRINGS — Zeb Hufnagle had no interest in letting Midd-West ace Caden Wolfley lure him deep into the count Monday.

The Mifflinburg senior doubled twice among the first three pitches he saw from the Mustangs' lefty, driving in all three runs for the Wildcats' 3-1 win in an early season Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II showdown.

"Traditionally I don't like taking pitches, so I'm going to jump on whatever I see that's good," said Hufnagle. "But, at the same time, I also know he's a very smart baseball player. If he gets ahead on me, he's going to make good pitches and make my life harder. So if I get something good enough to swing at, I'm going to take the chance."

Mifflinburg dropped a pair of one-run games to Midd-West last season. Those outcomes were the difference in the Mustangs winning the division and the Wildcats finishing third.

On Monday, Mifflinburg sophomore lefty Mason Schneck pitched three-hit ball into the seventh, striking out six and walking three. He was lifted one out shy of a complete game after allowing a leadoff single to Cole Shutt and a walk to Cole Keister. Both Mustangs moved into scoring position on a wild pitch before Kaiden Kmett recorded a three-pitch strikeout for the save.

"Pretty good game," said Wildcats coach Tom Church. "They're a good team; we're a good team. I'm proud of the way we played. We played well."

Midd-West (3-1 overall, 0-2 HAC-II) probably hit a couple runs worth of at-'em balls. Wolfley ripped a pair of shots into the left-center gap that sliced into Nate Chambers' glove. Shutt and Alex Trojan belted liners right at Chambers. And Trevor Sheaffer was robbed of an RBI in the fourth when — with Garrett Leitzel at second base after an RBI double — his drive to deep right field was stabbed out of the air by Cyruss Scholvin.

"That's what I told the boys," said Mustangs coach Scott Wright. "I said, 'Don't hang your heads. We hit the ball well.'

"That's baseball. I mean, right at somebody."

Wolfley, long committed to Charleston Southern, struck out eight but walked four in four innings of two-hit ball. His leadoff walk to Lane Hook in the first was followed by consecutive strikeouts. However, the out-pitch to Troy Dressler skipped to the backstop, putting two Wildcats on base. Hufnagle crunched the next pitch to right-center for a 2-0 lead before Wolfley worked out of the inning.

"That helped a lot," Church said of the early lead. "It calmed Mason down. Mason was able to get in there and hit the strike zone. It was good, but we should have scored more honestly."

Schneck also opened with a leadoff walk, though he rebounded with a pair of flyouts and a strikeout. They were the first three outs in a string of nine that carried Mifflinburg into the fourth inning with a 3-0 lead.

The Wildcats (4-1, 1-0) got the extra run in the third. Chambers worked a one-out walk and went to second base on a groundout before Hufnagle scorched an RBI double down the third-base line. His run-scoring doubles were the game's only hits for 3 1/2 innings.

"It's huge to get that insurance," said Hufnagle, a Millersville commit who is working through some soreness to get back on the mound. "We know they're a great baseball team — they beat us twice last year — so they were timely hits.

"The ball was hit hard by both sides the whole game, but theirs was just right at us. I was lucky enough to get two very timely hits, get that momentum, and we just rolled through the game."

Wolfley struck out three in fourth inning marred only by another dropped third strike. Derric Rager kept the game close by scattering three hits over three scoreless innings of relief for the Mustangs.

After Leitzel's double got Midd-West on the board in the fourth, Schneck didn't allow a runner past first base until the seventh. He went to a three-ball count only six times through six innings, and only two reached base.

"Mason had great control. He did a great job keeping them off balance," said Church. "They hit the ball hard, (but) we made the plays in the field that we needed to make."

Schneck may had been given a chance to finish what he started had Midd-West not moved the tying run to scoring position for the top of the order. Rather than give Hook a fourth look at his young lefty, Church turned to Kmett and the sophomore right-hander closed it.

"These guys are going to fight — they're not going to quit on you — and that's what I like so much about this team," said Wright. "They're never going to give up."

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MIFFLINBURG 3, MIDD-WEST 1

Mifflinburg;201;000;0 — 3-5-0

Midd-West;000;100;0 — 1-3-3

Mason Schneck, Kaiden Kmett (7) and Nick Lloyd, Jayden Boyer (7). Caden Wolfley, Derric Rager (5) and Cole Shutt.

WP: Schneck. LP: Wolfley. S: Kmett.

Mifflinburg: Lane Hook 1-for-3, run; Nate Chambers run; Troy Dressler 1-for-4, run; Zeb Hufnagle 2-for-3, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs; Schneck 1-for-3.

Midd-West: Wolfley run; Braxton Smith 1-for-3; Garrett Leitzel 1-for-3, double, RBI; Shutt 1-for-3.