Four Major League Baseball scouts were in attendance when State College faced Mifflin County on a beautiful Wednesday in Lewistown.
Evaluators were there to see the Huskies’ 6-foot-7, 220-pound left-handed pitcher Seth Wagner.
However, another lefty stole the show as Dan Fry steadied the Little Lions on the mound until the offense exploded for 10 runs in the seventh to pull off an improbable 17-8 come-from-behind win.
"Danny did a heck of a job today," said State College head coach Bill Tussey. "For me he probably was the player of the game. He kept us in the game and gave the offense a chance to get going."
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Fry pitched five full innings of relief after Little Lions starter Kenny Craig was chased after the first and reliever Scout Droske could only manage one frame.
Fry, a senior, struck out 10 and gave up just one run on two hits, keeping the Huskies offense in check until Darian Herncane could spark State College (4-3) in the third.
Wagner got off to a slow start, though his defense didn’t help him much. The Huskies finished with seven errors for the game and committed two in the first inning that led to a four-run State College first.
The Huskies (3-5) did answer, however, with four in the bottom half and three more in the second for what looked to be a daunting 7-4 lead with Wagner on the hill.
Then Herncane (1 for 3, one RBI) stepped in and changed everything.
After striking out in his first at bat against Wagner, a childhood friend, Herncane got revenge in the third with a solo home run to deep left field that Tussey said breathed confidence into his team.
"Seth and I go way back to Little League so we have our little rivalries," Herncane said. "In that second at bat he got up on me early and I really had to battle. He just left a pitch up in the strike zone and I just went with it."
The drive made it a 7-4 game, but perhaps more importantly showed the other Little Lions that Wagner could be handled.
"That’s exactly what it did," Tussey said. "For the younger guys it’s like ‘OK, yeah, we’re in this ballgame. It’s not over.’ And that kind of picked everybody up."
Jason Cost went 3 for 5 and drove in four runs for State College, while Ryan Karstetter went 1 for 3, scored twice and had an RBI.
Tanner Witter also had a big night going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
From there, the combination of Fry’s dominance and the Huskies’ inability to make defensive plays led to Mifflin County surrendering its lead, and the game.
"I’m going to try and stay positive here," said Huskies head coach Travis Zook after the game. "We scored a lot of runs, we hit the ball really well. (The) pitching wasn’t even that bad. We did give up some hits and they hit the ball well, but (ten) unearned runs?"
"You shouldn’t expect to win or even be close in a ball game when you have as many errors as we did. It’s unacceptable. Borderline embarrassing "
Tussey’s strategy against Wagner was to make him work deep into the count. The senior threw 113 pitches in five-plus innings.
The strategy got the Lions into the Huskies’ bullpen, which seemed to rattle its defense.
Mifflin County committed three errors in the seventh that led to State College’s eruption.
The Huskies certainly left the door wide open but the Little Lions seniors carried the team across the threshold.
"That’s what you hope your seniors do," Tussey said. "Fry and Jason Costa behind the plate and Darian Herncane. Those guys have been with us for three years and they did a great job today of just keeping guys on track and focused."
The win is huge for a State College team coming off two tough losses to Somerset and Red Land. The loss is equally troubling for Mifflin County.
"This was a huge game for us," said Zook. "One because it was Distric-6 for playoffs and two because we wanted to be .500 here after this game because we have some tough games coming up Hopefully we can turn things around a little bit after today."
Mifflin County hosts Red Land, Friday. State College travels to Cumberland Valley on Friday.
State College will hope to ride the momentum of the win to and maybe turn its season around.
"I think we just needed a confidence builder," Tussey said. "So yeah, I think it definitely could be a springboard. We’ll find out Friday."