Mifflinburg outlasts Danville in 9 innings

Apr. 10—MIFFLINBURG — Brian Raup may think twice the next time he decides to help an opponent in need.

Danville's pitching coach offered bandages from the first-aid kit in his vehicle when Mifflinburg sophomore Kaiden Kmett injured a finger early in Wednesday's game. The Wildcats took him up on the generosity in the later innings — just in time for Kmett to retire the final six Ironmen batters in an 8-7, nine-inning win.

Mifflinburg had the potential tie-breaking run at third base in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings. It made good on the third chance when Cole Reibsome raced home on a wild pitch with one out.

"Great win," said Wildcats coach Tom Church. "You can't take anything away from their pitchers; we just stuck with it. You got to stick with things, and you've just got to keep believing in yourselves."

It was an anticlimactic end to a Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II battle with a late-May vibe, one that saw Danville relievers blank the Wildcats for five-plus innings after the hosts surged ahead 7-3.

"It's two good baseball teams with high playoff aspirations — two teams that are very familiar with each other — and they got after it a little bit," said Danville coach Devin Knorr. "They made one more play than we did, but take nothing away from the effort of our kids. I thought it was impressive how we battled back being down four. We got right back in the game.

"Our kids showed their grit. We're tough."

Ironmen senior Reece McCarthy, a UMass commit, went 3-for-4 with RBIs in each of his first four at-bats, the last of which tied the score at 6 with two outs in the sixth inning. That was the last run against Kmett, who relieved Wake Forest pledge Troy Dressler in the fifth and finished with three strong frames after initially struggling with his grip.

"I just dug really deep because I wanted this game," said the right-handed Kmett. "This was a big one for us, and me and my teammates just got together and got right at it. We weren't quitting at all. I trusted my teammates and knew they were going to help me out, and I just dug deep a lot to make sure they knew I was trying my best."

The Wildcats improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in HAC-II, good for sole possession of first place in the division as the only unbeaten. Danville (5-1, 2-1) is joined by Central Columbia and Montoursville with one HAC-II loss.

Kmett drove in a pair of first-inning runs with a two-out double to trump McCarthy's first RBI. Kmett then had one of two run-scoring hits in Mifflinburg's five-run third. The Wildcats tied it at 3 on the third of five Ironmen errors before Kmett shot an RBI grounder through the right side of the infield. A run-scoring groundout made it 5-3 ahead of Cyruss Scholvin's two-run double that hugged the third-base line.

Dressler, making his second start in a return from an arm injury that limited him to 12 innings last season, struck out five and walked one in four innings. He turned over the ball to Kmett, whose right pinky needed attention after a sharp grounder tore back the fingernail. He issued a pair of one-out walks in the fifth ahead of a McCarthy sacrifice fly and a Wyatt Shultz RBI that made it 7-6.

Danville scored five two-out runs in the game, including McCarthy's rifle shot to the right-field line in the sixth that sent Garrett Hoffman home with the tying run. Kmett kept runners at the corners with a strikeout to end the sixth, then retired nine of the next 10 batters before Mifflinburg broke the tie.

"That's what we needed," said Church. "He threw 41 (pitches) in the first inning he was out, and then he came back and started throwing the ball right. We told him in the dugout, 'Throw strikes for us. If you throw strikes, we're going to win the baseball game. You gotta believe in that. We believe in you.'

"He went out, and he was super."

The Wildcats left 10 runners on base, eight in scoring position, including four at third base. Kmett struck out to end both the sixth and eighth innings with a chance to take the lead or win it.

Shultz, who tossed three-plus innings as the third Ironmen pitcher, dealt three gorgeous curveballs to Kmett after falling behind 2-0 to end the sixth with a strikeout. Shultz then froze Kmett with a 2-2 heater to leave the bases full in the eighth.

Each time, Kmett responded with a 1-2-3 inning on the bump.

"I still wanted it," he said. "I was not backing down at all. I did get a little mad at myself, but that's what kept me going. I dug so deep down because I wanted it so bad, and that anger just pushed on me."

Mifflinburg sophomore Mason Schneck lashed a one-out single to the opposite field in the home ninth. Scholvin followed with a liner to center field that was bobbled, allowing pinch-runner Reibsome to take third. Shultz was 1-1 to Sean Grodotzke when a curve bounced short of the plate and skipped high toward the backstop creating a path for Reibsome.

"We couldn't get that go-ahead run across," said Knorr, whose team stranded six, "but I think you have to credit Kmett for settling in that seventh, eighth and ninth inning, when he was at a higher pitch count and really battled hard. Wyatt battled his tail off today, and Kmett did the same thing. Guys are just out there competing."



Danville;102;031;000 — 7-8-5

Mifflinburg;205;000;001 — 8-10-1

Winning run scored with 1 out

Daniel Walker, James Ciccarelli (4), Wyatt Shultz (6) and Jack Gibson. Troy Dressler, Kaiden Kmett (5) and Nick Lloyd.

WP: Kmett. LP: Shultz.

Danville: Carter Raup 1-for-4, 2 runs; Cole Duffy 2 runs; Reece McCarthy 3-for-4, run, 4 RBIs; Shultz 2-for-5, run, 2 RBIs; Matt Acor 1-for-5; Gibson 1-for-4; Garrett Hoffman run.

Mifflinburg: Lane Hook 1-for-3, run; Nate Chambers 1-for-3, run; Dressler 1-for-3, 2 runs; Zeb Hufnagle 1-for-4, double, run; Kmett 2-for-5, double, run, 3 RBIs; Aaron Bolick 1-for-4, run; Mason Schneck 1-for-5, run, RBI; Cyruss Scholvin 2-for-5, double, 2 RBIs.