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Penn Manor's hot start snaps Spring Grove's win streak

Something had to give on Saturday afternoon in Spring Grove.

The Rockets baseball team, which came in with a five-game win streak, took on the Penn Manor Comets, who were riding a six-game win streak, in a battle of two teams with cosmos-themed mascots.

Unfortunately for the Rockets' faithful in attendance, it was the Comets who kept their streak alive by shutting out Spring Grove, 6-0.

Penn Manor junior Jeremy Miller picked a great time to throw the Comets' first complete game of the season. Miller gave up nine hits and struck out five without walking a batter.

"His off-speed pitches were working well," Penn Manor manager Jim Zander said. "This was our first complete game, so to see him throw so well was outstanding."

By the time Miller took the mound, his offense had already provided three runs in support.

Collin Whiteside reached on an error to lead off the first inning, then scored on an Anthony Knight RBI triple. Spring Grove starter Jon Sager walked the next two batters, then gave up a two-run single to Nate McFarland, making it a 3-0 game.

"We gave them an extra out in the first, and they took advantage of it," Spring Grove manager Kevin Stiffler said. "We didn't play bad, but if you're going to beat a team like that, you need timely hits, and you can't give them extra at-bats."

The Comets tagged Sager for three more hits and two runs in the second inning. Knight followed a Jeff Taylor RBI single with an RBI double to deep center field.

"It looked like he was struggling a little with his control, and we were hitting his mistakes," Zander said of Sager. "He settled in really well after that. He's a solid pitcher."

Sager settled in after the second. The left-hander didn't give up a hit from the fourth inning through the sixth, but the Rockets' offense was kept off the scoreboard.

"That's a good team over there, and we tried to put pressure on them, but they made plays under pressure," Stiffler said. "And their pitcher kept us off-balance."

Spring Grove's best chance to cut into the lead came in the bottom of the fourth. Matt Brooks and Derek Hoiles hit back-to-back singles, then Trent Baker singled two batters later, loading the bases for the home team. But Miller got Logan Miller to strike out swinging with a series of breaking balls.

"Sometimes I think we were too anxious at the plate," Stiffler said. "Our guys have a tendency to go up and want to pull everything, and this was the first crafty, finesse pitcher we've seen. We were swinging at his pitches instead of waiting for ours. But he moved the ball really well and had a great breaking ball."

Collin Groff extended the Comets' lead to 6-0 in the seventh with an RBI sac fly.

"We talked about how they were in first place and a quality team," Zander said. "We wanted to attack the ball early, and we were able to get a couple big hits."

Despite the loss, the young Rockets squad, who have won six of their last eight, remain in first place atop Division I.

"We've won five in a row coming in to today, and I told them it had to end at some point," Stiffler said. "But we have a couple big games coming up this week so we have to be ready to bounce back."

Penn Manor 6, Spring Grove 0

Penn Manor3200001—671Spring Grove0000000—091

PM, Jeremy Miller and Anthony Knight, SG, Jon Sager and Derek Hoiles

SO-BB — PM, Miller 5-0, SG, Sager 1-7; W — Miller; L — Sager; 2B — PM 2 (Knight, Nate Brown); 3B — PM, Knight;