If you win the World Series, this town will put everything on hold.
They will throw you a parade, pay for your meals and stop you to say “thank you.”
A little bit of celebrity goes a long way in Mifflin County, and the 13-year-old champions — who topped Pearl City, Hawaii, 5-3 in the Babe Ruth Baseball World Series — are experiencing it.
“They’re treating us like we’ve been celebrities for a long time,” catcher Ethan Eichhorn said.
The reality is that they were 14 ordinary teenagers ready to play another season of baseball more than four months ago. And they’re still ordinary, but they happened to do something extraordinary. They became the community’s comeback kids, the cardiac kids or the boys of summer.
Each name bestowed upon them was as fitting as the last.
One name, the national champions from Mifflin County, hits the nail on the head like a Brian Yetter home run — he led the team and league with 10 blasts.
Their championship run came down to a hold-your-breath final at-bat.
Pitcher Colby Bodtorf knew what to do.
“Go high, and the batter will chase it, because that’s what our coach tells us,” Colby said. “I really wasn’t thinking about anything except hitting my spot.”
The moment couldn’t have been bigger, not at this point in Colby’s baseball career. The bases were loaded with two outs in the Babe Ruth Baseball 13-year-old World Series in Iowa.
Then there was the last pitch, the high heater that won Mifflin County its first national championship.
“There wasn’t much doubt,” right fielder Brando Souders said. “I was just waiting for Colby to get it done.”
“Colby is the quiet type,” Brian, at third base, said. “He’ll do anything to help the team, and it doesn’t matter what the situation is, he’s always calm. He knows the game.”
“I just told him to give it his best shot,” coach Scott Reigle said. “I put him in there in relief, and I just wanted him to have fun.”
One of Colby’s best friends, Ethan, was behind the plate — the two have played baseball together for years.
“He’s always pitched to me,” Ethan said. “It’s been this way since Little League. He gets better every year. We knew this was it. We finally reached our goal.”
The duo leaped into each other’s arms and were tackled by 12 teammates somewhere between home plate and the mound, caught up in elation.
“Those two are great kids,” Reigle said. “They’re all great kids. They have a lot of baseball knowledge. They play well under pressure. There were a lot of key pitching performances and hits that got us there. I couldn’t pick just one.”
Brian set a league record for home runs, capped by two to right-center in the semifinals, a game Mifflin County won 7-6 over West Fargo, N.D. The champs had to rally from a 6-3 deficit late in the game.
“I’m just glad to contribute to the team, especially after my mistakes,” Brian said. “I had a couple errors. I thought I had bad pitching, so I really wanted to come through for the team. I felt like it was on me.”
And he got help from teammates.
Brando was put into the semifinal game as a pinch-runner, and the last of Cole Schlegel’s three hits was a walk-off single that scored him.
“Cole hit that gapper,” Brando said. “That was really awesome.”
The play that clinched Mifflin County’s spot in the World Series went back to the basics that their coach preached from day one.
“I think I really wanted this group to be patient at the plate and get a good pitch to hit,” Reigle said. “That’s one thing we talked a lot about.”
The coach also stressed trusting your teammates, which might be why this team puts a lot of stock in complimenting each other.
Casey Conner was called “the perfect teammate” with power at the plate and an “insane” curve ball. Brycen Hassinger always made every situation less stressful. Conner Cherry was “the most clutch,” when you needed a big hit.
With the season over, and their 15 minutes of fame still going strong, their coach had one last piece of wisdom for them.
“I hope they take away that it was a great experience,” Reigle said. “I hope they know if you work hard enough, there isn’t anything you can’t accomplish.”
Mifflin County team
Manager Scott Reigle
Coach Jared Edwards
Coach Josh Edwards