By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ERMA – Less than 24 hours after squandering an early 6-1 lead to its biggest rival en route to a 12-10 loss, the Middle Township High School baseball team got its revenge.
Sophomore Tyler McDevitt tossed a complete game and also had three hits and two RBI to lead the Panthers to a 7-4 win in a game played in damp, chilly conditions.
“We had less than 24 hours to wipe away yesterday and make it right today,” Middle coach Chris Branigan said. “Tyler knew he was going to be on the bump and he had an opportunity to get us in the win column and he led us the whole time. That was an unbelievable performance by him.”
McDevitt didn’t appear poised for a complete game after giving up two runs over each of the first two innings. But he shut out the Caper Tigers (1-2) over the final five. He recorded two strikeouts in the final frame, getting the last batter looking on a nasty offspeed pitch that caught the outside corner at the knees.
McDevitt threw 103 pitches. He struck out seven and walked just two.
“Hats off to Tyler and his work ethic this offseason,” Branigan said. “Right now he’s in midseason form due to the way he trained himself and got prepared for the season.
“He righted the ship early on and part of that came because we started making the plays behind him. He got very efficient with his fastball. It looked like toward the end he could have thrown another 50 more pitches. He was throwing harder in that seventh inning than he did in the first.”
Hunter Ray’s two-run double helped give Lower an early 4-1 lead through two innings. But Middle scored three times in the third to tie, before scoring single runs in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to forge ahead.
In addition to McDevitt’s exploits, Mike Adelizzi had two hits and an RBI, Nick Jamison drove in two runs and Adam Radzieta laced an RBI single for Middle (1-2).
Evan Golden, Kyle Satt, Evan Shoffler, John Roach and Kody Lewis each had two hits for Lower.
The back-to-back games between the two rivals represent a change in the CAL schedule this season, which often sees division rivals play one another on consecutive days on each team’s field.
“It was great to get right back on the field against them, especially after (Monday),” Branigan said. “Having that lead and then letting them take over and then falling short at the end then seeing the weather today, we were praying to all sorts of rain gods that we could get this in. The guys were pumped to get the chance to get right back on the field against them today.
“Lower’s team is tough every year. They’re so well coached and they’re a disciplined team and every time our two teams get together the kids give it their all.”