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Penn Manor ousted by Governor Mifflin in district quarters

FREDERICKSBURG >> After playing what's been nearly three weeks worth of tight, nerve-wracking, nail-reducing ballgames, Governor Mifflin's Thursday's District 3 Class AAAA quarterfinal encounter with Penn Manor must have felt like a wave of release.

The Mustangs banged out eight runs on 18 hits to obliterate a pretty good Penn Manor ballclub, 8-0, in a whitewash at Earl Wenger Field to advance to Tuesday's 4-A semifinal.

It was Mifflin's first non-tight final score since May 2 against Daniel Boone (a 10-0 win). The club had played two straight one-run ballgames to reach (and win) the Berks League final, then did the same earlier this week in the opening round of districts.

"It was shocking to do that against the quality of ballclub that they have," Mustangs head coach Chris Hole said. "Very good team. We just had an approach at the plate, no matter who they threw at us. I'm proud of the boys for staying disciplined.

"Success breeds success. We have seven seniors, and they play with confidence. When we're down in a game, they try not to get too low."

The Mustangs (19-6) got the party rolling immediately against Penn Manor (19-5) with four consecutive singles — five for the frame — against Comets' starter and losing pitcher Jacob Herr, good for three runs. And the tap never really shut off. Herr didn't make it out of the third.

Mifflin tacked on two in the third for a 5-0 lead, two more in the fourth to make it 7-0, then added fifth-inning icing with an eighth run — all off a succession of Comet pitchers.

John Catchmark had three hits worth two RBIs, Niko Hulsizer two hits, and Earl Kochel three. Metallic lumber showed up, at last, to provide a rare breather.

That stands in stark contrast to what's been a tooth pull of a campaign to even make it this far. Mifflin survived an 11-inning white-knuckler against Cumberland Valley at home on Monday in the opening round, a 4-3 contest in which the hosts were down to their final out of the season before rallying in the seventh inning to send it to extras.

Thursday's win also means Governor Mifflin reaches its first district semifinal since 1999, when the eldest among the current crop of players were, at most, 2 years old.

Zach Weidner fits that description. The speedy senior lead-off hitter set the table all game long, with four base hits in five plate appearances.

"It was nice to relax a little bit and not have one of these one-run ballgames," Weidner said. "I'm the leadoff hitter, and I've got to get on base and get my speed on. When speed gets on, good things can happen.

"We hit the ball well to the opposite field. We were taking balls on the outside of the plate and going the opposite way. We've been working on that, and we did very well doing that."

Mifflin's day was made easier — or perhaps, it was vice versa — by the effort put forth by starter Tanner Campbell.

Campbell was in a couple of pinches — second and third with two outs in consecutive frames early on — but induced key outs when he needed them. He went the distance with solid, if not spectacular, stuff to notch the complete-game shutout for a weary staff that desperately needed one.

"Just huge," Hole said of Campbell's effort. "We have confidence in Tanner and have come to expect that. Tanner has done the job literally every game this year that he's pitched in. He goes out, he throws strikes."

The early support allowed Campbell to relax and throw strikes. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.

"It gets me amped up to throw better," Campbell said. "There's not a weight on my shoulders. Throw my strikes, and let the boys behind me make the plays."

Governor Mifflin 8, Penn Manor 0

Governor Mifflin3022100—8183Penn Manor0000000—071

GM, Tanner Campbell and Earl Kochel. PM, Jacob Herr, Grant Gale (3), Jeremy Miller (5), Justin Henson (7) and Anthony Knight.

SO-BB — GM, Campbell 3-0. PM, Herr 0-1, Gale 1-0, Miller 1-0, Henson 0-0; W — Campbell; L — Herr; 2B — GM, John Catchmark, Niko Hulsizer, Hunter Reeser. PM, Collin Groff, Cameron Dickerson