Almost a half-hour after his high school baseball career ended, Mason Woolwine still had tears in his eyes.
He was emotional, whether he was thinking about Gov. Mifflin’s season-ending 7-4 loss to Cumberland Valley in the District 3 Class 6A third-place game Thursday at Shillington or about what might have been.
Once 19-0, the Mustangs never imagined they would lose four of their last five games and finish without the Berks League or district title.
“I would have said you’re crazy,” Woolwine said, “because I had full faith in this team that we were going to do something special.”
Top-seeded Mifflin (20-4) spotted the third-seeded Eagles (16-5) a 4-0 lead before rallying to tie it with three runs in the fifth inning, all of them unearned.
Cumberland Valley scored the tiebreaking run in the sixth when Jason Madrak walked and Kyle McKeon roped a long double to left field.
The Mustangs loaded the bases in their half of the sixth on two walks and an error. But reliever Nethaneail Miller struck out Ethan Grim and Michael Marmelejos to end what would be their final threat.
“We just preached to put the ball in play and try to make things happen,” Mifflin coach Chris Hole said. “We just couldn’t do it. Not only did it stall our offense in that inning, but that took away our momentum.”
The Eagles scored two more runs in the seventh off reliever Matt Novotny, putting it away with three hits, two hit batsmen and two wild pitches.
“This is one of the hardest things,” said Marmelejos, one of two senior regulars with Woolwine. “We graduated last week. This is the last thing we had in high school.”
Mustangs junior Xander Velez threw effectively for 4.2 innings until he reached the pitch limit. He struck out five and allowed three earned runs and seven hits, including four infield singles and two other rollers that found the hole between third base and shortstop.
Velez walked three, including two that scored.
“It was really getting me frustrated because they were not hitting the ball good at all,” Velex said. “There were balls just getting through the infield.
“I would not have thought we were going to end like this. We didn’t play up to our expectations. The way we played in the regular season was not how we played in this game.”
Tyler Minick, Mifflin’s top hitter with a .500 average and six home runs, was not available for the third straight game because of a strained oblique. The Mustangs didn’t want to use his absence as an excuse.
“Baseball is so unpredictable,” Hole said. “I’ve been around it long enough to know that you need to be peaking and playing your best at the right time. We weren’t. We just weren’t playing our best baseball at the right time.
“We competed and battled, but it was pretty clear that we were not playing our best baseball when it mattered.”
Madrak singled three times and drove in three runs for Cumberland Valley, which will play the District 7 champion Monday in the first round of the PIAA Tournament. McKeon doubled, singled and knocked in two runs.
Jon Radwanski went 2-for-2, Travis Jenkins had an RBI single and Woolwine had an RBI for Mifflin, which was seeking its fifth berth in the state tournament in seven seasons.
Many of the Mustangs were still sitting in their dugout with their heads bowed long after the game had ended. They didn’t want to leave their teammates.
“Not being able to see these guys tomorrow at practice,” Woolwine said, “that’s going to hurt. It’s going to be hard to go on without these guys.”
Source: Berkshire mont