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Middletown Dominates in District Semifinals November 11, 2018

Total domination. There simply is no other way to describe Middletown's 41-6 triumph over Wyomissing in their District 3-3A semifinal clash last Friday, November 9th. Despite a rain-soaked evening turning Middletown's War Memorial Field into a pit of mud, the Blue Raiders managed to rack up 497 yards of offense while holding the Spartans to a measly 16.

"Our defensive coaches grind as hard as anybody. They put a lot of time in, looking at stuff and getting our kids ready," said head coach Brett Myers. "There is pressure applied all week in practice on the defensive side of the ball. We put them in a lot of bad case scenarios during the week and they responded. A lot of these guys have experience, they've been through a lot."

That preparation was on full display as 22 of the Spartans 37 offensive snaps went for no gain or a loss of yards. That left Wyomissing with a paltry 0.43 yards per play average with eight of their 10 drives ending in a punt. Add in three sacks plus a first quarter Chis Joseph interception and you get a game that never felt as close as the score.

Middletown's offense handled their part of the domination behind a stellar game from Jose Lopez. The junior dynamo accounted for 259 of Middletown's 497 yards while scoring five of their six touchdowns. The dominance was on display on the game's opening drive with Lopez taking his third carry and the team's fifth play to the house. The score saw Lopez bust through the right side of the line and race 48-yards for a 7-0 lead just 2:23 into the game.

Wyomissing's ensuing drive lasted all of three plays and spanned just two minutes but Middletown was unable to capitalize on the failed Spartan possession. Making that failure even worse was a bigtime completion on the Blue Raiders' first snap of that possession. Scott Ash picked up 84 of his 192 yards with a single completion to Tim Wagner but Wyomissing was able to push Wagner out of bounds at the four-yard line. A few failed rushes, a penalty and two incomplete passes ended the drive with no points but as they would all night the Middletown defense stepped up.

The Blue Raiders forced a quick three and out then enjoyed a bad Wyomissing punt that put another score just 36 yards away. A 22-yard Ash to Joseph competition covered most of that gap but it was a Lopez plunge that put points on the board. The five-yard score came with just over two minutes remaining in the opening frame and gave Middletown a 14-0 lead.

The teams traded possessions through the tail end of the first and most of the second quarter with little to show for the efforts. In fact, when Middletown fielded their third punt of the second quarter at their own 49-yard line with just 22 seconds remaining in the half, most figured a quick kneel down would send the game to intermission with the Blue Raiders up by just two scores.

Myers and his squad had different ideas even after a Lopez rush was stuffed for no gain on first down. The Blue Raiders were undeterred, calling timeout with three ticks remaining on the clock and the end zone still 51 yards away. Myers dialed up a screen pass towards the home sideline with Ash soft tossing to Lopez who took care of those 51 yards in a hurry.

"We knew there was only a couple of seconds left on the clock and we wanted to see how far we could get down the field," said Lopez before dishing out some praise. "My lineman did everything really, I just ran, ran behind them. They had some real nice blocks." Those nice blocks coupled with nice running from Lopez made it a 21-0 game at the break.

The Blue Raiders, for all intents and purposes, put the game away in the first four minutes of the second half. An onside kick to start the second half caught the Spartans off guard while Middletown's recovery of that kick further deflated the Wyomissing side. Lopez covered 28 of the 46 yards needed to convert the drive to points with the payoff coming on a two-yard plunge with 8:08 showing on the third quarter clock.

Another quick Wyomissing three and out put the ball back in Middletown's hands with just under six minutes remaining in the frame. The drive started poorly as a bad first down snap pushed the Blue Raiders back to the Spartan 29-yard line. That proved to be an easily overcome obstacle for Middletown as Richie Sykes took a second down handoff and raced 71 yards for Middletown's lone non-Lopez TD of the game. A missed PAT attempt made it 34-0 and kept the mercy rule running clock on ice for a few more minutes.

Yet another quick Wyomissing three and out gave the ball back to Middletown for another crack at a mercy rule running clock. The Blue Raiders would not falter this time as Lopez turned a bad snap into his fourth rushing touchdown of the game, this one an 80-yard score that made 41-0 and capped his 208-yard game.

With the game in hand thanks to a 41-point lead, a running clock and only 14 minutes of game time remaining, Myers went to his bench to close out the contest. That allowed Wyomissing to find enough footing to produce all four of their first downs while taking their offensive output from the negative (-28 yards) to their final tally of 16 yards. That production, however limited, also led to Wyomissing's only visit to the end zone, a one-yard Jason Gartner score with 3:37 remaining in the game.

Up next for Middletown is a trip to Lebanon where the Blue Raiders will tangle with Bermudian Springs in an attempt to win their third straight District 3-3A title. Kickoff is set for 7pm on Friday November 16th at Cedar Crest High School.

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Middletown VB Falls in District Quarterfinals November 4, 2018

They say there is a first time for everything and the Middletown girls' volleyball team checked off a bigtime first with their 2018 season. One season after narrowly missing out on a District 3-2A bid with a 7-10 record the Lady Raiders picked up their first District 3-2A berth with an 8-9 run through the 2018 regular season.

That berth dropped Middletown into a 2A quarterfinal match on October 30th opposite York Catholic. The Lady Raiders lost that match by a 3-0 final.

"I was very proud of how my girls played," said head coach Lisa Huber. "York Catholic is a strong, well-polished team and even though the scores didn't show it, they gave it their all and never gave up."

Despite a 3-0 sweep that saw Middletown on the wrong end of 25-9, 25-16 and 25-17 games, Huber still said "it was a great opportunity" for her squad's first foray into the district pool. As the offense struggled the defense took center stage with Hannah Wilsbach (10 digs), Alexis Harmon (nine digs), Courtney Shaffer (seven digs) and Katie Knaub (five digs) leading the way. The Lady Raiders did manage to slip in a little offense with Harmon and Cassie Ebersole tallying a team high two kills while Shaffer registered a team high three assists. Knaub added two aces and one assist to her five digs.

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Middletown Earns 3rd Capital Division Crown October 28, 2018

This year's Mid-Penn Capital Division title does not come with the pristine 10-0 mark the previous two have but the Blue Raider football team will gladly hang the banner in the gymnasium rafters none the less. Middletown wrapped up their third straight Capital Division crown with a 42-6 pasting of Palmyra last Friday using their standard formula of a punishing ground game and stingy defense. That combination allowed Middletown to hold a 486 to 129 advantage in total yards while building a 42-0 lead before intermission.

Jose Lopez and Richie Sykes held their typical position at the forefront of Middletown's attack, combining for 316 yards and all five of the Blue Raiders' offensive touchdowns. Lopez led the way with 156 yards and two scores on the ground, adding 19 yards and another score through the air.

All three of those scores came as part of Middletown's 28-point first quarter explosion. All that action started with a 53-yard jaunt just 33 seconds after the opening whistle. Lopez added a 50-yard scamper late in the frame to finish his scoring on the ground. Lopez's eight-yard TD reception, the lone TD pass for quarterback Scott Ash, came near the six-minute mark of the first and made it a 21-0 game. Chris Joseph provided the remaining first quarter score, returning an interception 27-yards to give Middletown a 14-0 lead a mere 1:24 into the game.

Sykes took over in the second quarter, turning Middletown's Lopez fueled 28-0 lead into a mercy rule inducing 42-0 cushion at halftime thanks to back-to-back touchdown runs. Scores of 11-yards and 15-yards capped Sykes' 122-yard game and made the Blue Raiders' third Capital Division title a mere formality. The Cougars did break up Middletown's shutout bid with a 43-yard Stephen Lyons to Sean Carter touchdown pass early in the third quarter.

Up next for the 9-1 Blue Raiders is a District 3-3A semifinal match up on November 9th or 10th opposite the winner of this weekend's Wyomissing-Littlestown quarterfinal showdown.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross country team wrapped up their 2018 season last Saturday with a trip to Big Spring High School for the District 3 Championship Meet. Jalen Rowley led the way for the boys' team, finishing 143rd with a time of 20:12.5. Five places and a little over eight seconds later William Brown crossed the finish line while Tanner Albright claimed 152nd place with a time of 20:25.8. Zach Malay and Ken Britcher finished the 3.1-mile race eight seconds apart but Malay's 22:07.0 had him in 185th place while Britcher 's 22:15.0 was the 186th fastest time.

Angela Hernandez was the lone Lady Raider to compete, finishing 137th with a time of 25:51.4.

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Lady Booters Pushed to Qualify for Districts October 15, 2018

As the regular season winds down the Middletown girls' soccer team continues to fight for their playoff lives. After a two-win week, the Lady Raiders are 6-8 and sit 14th in the District 3-2A rankings with three games remaining. Middletown has some ground to make up with those three remaining make-up games as only the top 10 2A teams qualify for the district playoffs.

Middletown picked up some of that ground on October 8th with a 3-2 overtime win over Pequea Valley. Camryn Russ, who assisted on Middletown's first two scores, netted the game winner in the 98th minute with help from Jocelyn Koser. Hayli Akakpo-Martin made it a 1-1 game early in the second half while Sarah Miscevish gave the Lady Raiders a short-lived lead with her score in the 54th minute. Pequea Valley's Brittany Shirk tied things back up with her 68th minute goal. Amanda Lee (10 saves) settled down after the Lady Indians scored the equalizer to secure the win for Middletown.

The Lady Raiders needed just one overtime period to secure a 2-1 win over Susquehanna Township on October 9th. Once again it was Russ, with an assist from Koser, to the rescue as the junior accounted for both goals, netting the game winner four minutes into the first overtime period. Akakpo-Martin provided the setup for Russ' first goal that came with roughly 11 minutes remaining in regulation. Lee turned away six shots to secure her second straight overtime victory.

"I would say that a lot of times, it comes down to heart," said head coach Tim Neff of the wins in overtime. "Our girls have played all season with their hearts and I am glad they were able show that and have the success we did. To come out with overtime victories on back-to-back nights shows the character of the girls. I couldn't be happier for them or prouder of them as their coach."

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team was in action just once last week, topping Susquehanna Township 2-0 on October 9th. Caleb Spring earned his second clean sheet of the season with a two save effort.

FOOTBALL

The football team continues to roll toward the postseason with another lopsided victory. This one a 42-0 demolition of Trinity to please the homecoming crown on Saturday, October 13th. The Blue Raiders cranked out 419 rushing yards on their way to a 474-110 edge in total yardage and an easy win.

Jose Lopez kicked off the fun with an eight-yard run just 2:21 into the game. Odell Greene, making the first of three trips to the end zone, made it 14-0 nearly six minutes later with a three-yard plunge. Green's second trip, a 27-yard sprint, wrapped up the first quarter scoring with Middletown up 21-0.

Richie Sykes covered 50 yards on his only score of the game, moving the lead to 28-0 with 5:06 remaining in the first half. Greene finished his active first half by hauling in Scott Ash's lone TD pass, a five-yarder that made it 35-0 just 26 seconds after the Sykes score. Tim Wagner finished the scoring with an eight-yard TD plunge that set the final at 42-0.

Wagner added three catches for 26 yards to his 47 yards rushing but it was the three headed attack of Greene, Lopez and Sykes that powered Middletown to the win. Greene tallied 87 yards and two scores on his six carries, adding 21 yards and another score on three receptions. Lopez and Sykes both cracked triple digits with Sykes finishing with a team high 114 yards on just four carries while Lopez tallied 103 yards with his 14 carries.

FIELD HOCKEY

The field hockey team was in action twice last week, dropping both games to fall to 0-14-1. Milton Hershey handed out a 5-0 loss on October 9th while on October 12th a visit from East Pennsboro resulted in a 7-0 loss. Natasha Manfred finished the week with 19 total saves.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross country team made the conversion from regular season to postseason last week with their final regular season meet taking place on October 8th and the Mid-Penn Championship meet going down on October 13th.

The Blue Raiders fell to both Mechanicsburg and Central Dauphin East in the final regular season showdown despite Will Brown posting a personal best time of 18:34. Zach Malay was the next Middletown runner to finish, crossing the line at 19:24. Jalen Rowley also posted a personal best time on the day, clocking a 19:30. Tanner Albright (20:47) and Jacob Buffington (21:06) rounded out the top five.

Angie Hernandez led the short-staffed Lady Raiders with a time of 24:25. Casey Eckert (26:19) and Bankshita Devkota (38:06) followed Hernandez.

The Blue Raiders traveled to Newville on Saturday October 13th for the Mid-Penn Championship Meet. Brown clocked another personal best time of 18:28.09 to finish 112th in the 200-person field. Rowley (19:37.95) and Malay (19:50.05) crossed the finish line approximately 13 seconds apart but Rowley was 163rd and Malay 168th. Buffington just missed the 20-minute barrier, finishing with a time of 20:01.59 which placed him 177th. Owen Wealand finished up Middletown's scorers with a 194th place time of 21:37.46.

Hernandez was the second Lady Raider to finish on the girl's side, posting a 24:42.39 to Jaleena Marrero's 23:18.31. Marrero's time was good enough for 110th while Hernandez finished 149th. Eckert was the final Lady Raiders to participate in the meet, finishing 157th with a time of 25:52.58.

VOLLEYBALL

The girls' volleyball team was tripped up twice last week with losses to Big Spring and Trinity bookending the week. In between the Lady Raiders managed to take out Central Dauphin East by a 3-0 count. Katie Knaub collected six assists, two aces and two digs to help Middletown secure wins of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-11. Carley Dupes added five assists, three kills and one dig to help out. Abbey Spagnolo (11 digs and five aces) and Cassie Ebersole (seven kills and one ace) provided additional support.

Middletown nearly had another win last week as they fell to Big Spring by a 3-2 final on Monday. The Lady Raiders opened the match with wins of 25-21 and 26-24 to put the Lady Bulldogs on the brink. Unfortunately, Big Spring was able to fight back with wins of 25-19, 25-20 and 15-12 to steal the win away from Middletown.

Courtney Shaffer did a bit of everything in the loss to finish with 13 digs, eight assists, two kills and two blocks. Spagnolo added 13 digs and three aces while Lani Moore chipped in with 10 digs, five kills and four aces. Ebersole wrapped things up with seven kills and two aces.

The Lady Raiders were not able to keep their October 11th clash with Trinity as close with the Lady Shamrocks posting wins of 25-11, 25-13 and 25-16 to collect the 3-0 sweep. Shaffer enjoyed an eight dig, five assist and one kill game while Knaub finished the loss with nine digs and two assists. Alexis Harmon added three digs and two kills with Spagnolo tallying five digs and two aces. Hannah Wilsbach collected a team high 13 digs.

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Lady Raiders Work a 1-1 Tie with CDE October 8, 2018

The Middletown field hockey team enjoyed their first lead of the season during last Monday's 1-1 deadlock with Central Dauphin East. Alexis Manfred used a Marie Schopf pass for a 1-0 lead at 13:26 of the opening half. The Lady Raiders held that one goal advantage until 9:39 of the second half when Amani Osibogun-Bell scored the equalizer. The teams played through the remainder of regulation and all of overtime with the game knotted at 1-1. Natasha Manfred finished with four saves for Middletown.

"We were really hopeful to get a goal in overtime to end with our first win," said first year head coach Sierra Lenker. "The girls are proud of how they played hard and never gave up despite all of the setbacks during the game. They truly played as a team, and the coaches are proud of them."

The Lady Raiders were unable to keep pace with their other two opponents last week, falling to Bishop McDevitt and Spring Grove. Tuesday saw Middletown fall to McDevitt by a 7-0 count while the 4-0 loss to Spring Grove took place on Thursday. Natasha Manfred tallied nine saves between the two games with six coming against the Lady Crusaders.

FOOTBALL

The Middletown football team continued their march toward another Mid-Penn Capital Division title with a 32-21 win over Milton Hershey on October 4th. The victory keeps 4-0, 6-1 Middletown atop the standings beside 4-0, 7-0 Palmyra with their October 26th season ending showdown currently on track to decide the division title.

The Blue Raiders rode their two-headed rushing attack of Jose Lopez and Richie Sykes to the 11-point win over the Spartans. The pair combined for 259 of Middletown's 262 rushing yards while scoring four of their five touchdowns. Lopez tacked on an additional 33 yards on two receptions to account for over half of the Middletown offense thanks to his 157 rushing yards.

Lopez opening the scoring with a three-yard plunge that came just 1:43 after the opening whistle. Sykes also scored his first touchdown of the game in the first, busting free for a 64-yard score with 7:43 remaining in the frame.

Milton Hershey started chipping into Middletown's 13-0 lead just over a minute later when Dion Bryant scored on a 45-yard burst. The Spartans took their first lead with 1:35 remaining in the opening quarter with Josh Parra hauling in a 14-yard Naeem Cross strike.

Scott Ash, who finished with 70 yards through the air, put the Blue Raiders up heading into intermission with a one-yard plunge just before the break.

Milton Hershey retook the lead early in the fourth when Chiago Anyanwu broke off a 43-yard TD run that made it 21-20. Sykes put Middletown back in front near the midway point of the fourth with his second score of the game. The 10-yard TD capped his 102-yard game. Lopez provided some additional wiggle room with his second score, a two-yard plunge with 1:40 remaining in the contest.

GIRLS' TENNIS

The girls' tennis team wrapped up the regular season on October 3rd with a match against Harrisburg Academy. Middletown picked up one singles and one doubles win but it was not enough as they fell by a 3-2 count. Mahnoor Azim collected the singles victory, topping Kiersten Greiner 7-5, 6-4 at number one. Stef Finsterbush and Taya Scott earned their doubles win by forfeit in the number two slot.

The Lady Raiders kicked off the postseason one day later by taking part in the Mid-Penn Championship Tournament. The AA field was not kind as all three singles as well as all three doubles matches ended with a Lady Raider loss.

James Buchanan's Maggie Strawoet finished Azim's time in the Flight One Bracket with a 6-1, 6-1 final while Trinity's Maya Arora finished Buffington's season with a 6-0, 6-1 first round final. Angelina Torres dropped her Flight Three singles match to another Lady Shamrock, with Maria Ferrarro handing Torres a 6-0, 6-1 loss.

In district qualifying doubles Azim and Buffington fell to Bishop McDevitt's Makayla Burkholder and Maria Gontis, 6-0, 6-2. Finsterbush and Scott, fresh off their win a day earlier, saw their season come to a close with a 6-0, 6-0 loss to McDevitt's Kathrina and Monique Garbanzos. Middletown's final doubles pair, Aayushi Patel and Cassidy Anderson, had their season end with a 6-1, 6-0 loss to James Buchanan's Lindsey Meyers and Kierra Griffith.

VOLLEYBALL

The volleyball team had two matches last week with the Lady Raiders ending up on the wrong side of both by 3-1 finals. The first came on October 2nd when Milton Hershey posted wins of 25-23, 25-21 and 25-20 wrapped around Middletown's 25-21 game two victory.

Courtney Shaffer led the way in the loss with 10 digs, seven kills, seven assists and one block. Carly Dupes added 13 assists, two kills and one dig while both Cassie Ebersole and Natalie Krupilis matched Shaffer's seven kills. Krupilis added three aces to her game while Hannah Wilsbach (12 digs) and Alexis Harmon (nine digs) chipped in on defense.

One day later it was James Buchanan handing Middletown a 3-1 loss. Once again, the Lady Raiders claimed game two, this one by a 25-15 final but that left the Lady Rockets on top of the remaining three games, 25-22, 25-14 and 25-21. Shaffer collected six kills, four aces, four assists and one dig in the loss while Lani Moore chipped in with 10 digs, five aces and three kills. Katie Knaub added eight assists, four aces and two digs while Dupes finished with three kills and two assists.

GIRLS' SOCCER

The Middletown girls' soccer team played in three separate shutout games last week and thankfully for the Lady Raiders they were victorious in two of them. The first came on Monday with Middletown blanking Wyomissing by a 1-0 count. Sydney Garza netted the game winner in the 31st minute and Amanda Lee turned away all six Wyomissing shots to collect the win.

The second victory came on Thursday with Camryn Russ propelling Middletown to a 2-0 win over Milton Hershey. Russ netted both scores, one in each half, while Garza helped with one assist. Lee needed seven saves to keep Milton Hershey off the board.

In between the two wins came a 5-0 loss to Camp Hill. The Lady Lions used two goals from Julia Raich combined with a one goal two assist game from Sheridan Reid to get by Middletown. Lee finished the Camp Hill barrage that produced 24 shots with 10 saves.

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team checked off three more games last week and now sit at 5-10 on the year with two games remaining. Middletown hosted Camp Hill on Tuesday with the Lions earning a 1-0 win.

"Tremendous effort from our team in this one," said head coach Brian Keyser.

Ben Brodie setup Amias Colestock's game winner in the 21st minute with Camp Hill fighting off Middletown's late rally. Caleb Springer kept things close with an 11 save game.

October 4th brought Milton Hershey to town and despite falling behind 3-0 the Blue Raiders managed a 4-3 win thanks to Anthony LaVia. The Spartans built their lead over the course of the first 23 minutes with goals from three different players. LaVia took over from there scoring four goals in a seven-minute stretch to flip the game around. Springer settled down after that rocky start to finish with six saves in the win.

"I'm very proud of how calm and poised the team remained when down by three. It shows how much we've grown as a team," said Keyser of the come from behind win.

The Blue Raiders closed out the week on Saturday with a 2-1, overtime, loss to Boiling Springs.

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Middletown Football Romps Again, Wins 51-14 October 1, 2018

Chalk up another one. The Middletown football team throttled Boiling Springs last Friday 51-14 to improve to 5-1 overall. The win also keeps the Blue Raiders in a three-way tie for first in the Capital Division along with Palmyra and Milton Hershey who share Middletown's 3-0 division record. The Blue Raiders went for nearly 600 yards of offense, finishing with 597 while holding the Bulldogs to 194 yards. Jose Lopez and Richie Sykes led the ground attack while Scott Ash and Chris Joseph enjoyed the lax coverage the pair created.

The Ash to Joseph connection kicked off the scoring just 16 seconds after kickoff, covering 70 yards for a 7-0 lead. Boiling Springs answered a minute later with their own big play hook-up. Zack Vonstein hit Tayven Kelley for a 69-yard score and a tie game. Lopez put Middletown back on top with the first of three touchdowns, this one from 20 yards out with 7:08 remaining in the frame. The Bulldogs answered one last time with Vonstein picking up his second touchdown of the game, this one to Mike Wagner and covering 18 yards. The Blue Raiders put one last score on the board before the first quarter expired when Sykes broke free for a 59-yard score that made it 21-14.

Lopez picked up another touchdown in the second quarter, this one a 25-yard yarder just after the 10-minute mark. Middletown picked up a surprising two points a few minutes later when the Boiling Spring punter stepped out of the end zone for a safety that made it 30-14. The final points of the first half came when Ash hit Joseph for another TD, the 57-yard pitch and catch capping Joseph's 138-yard game.

Lopez covered 49 yards on his final touchdown of the game, punching it in with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter. Ash capped the scoring with this third TD pass of the evening, this one finding Jarrod Pugh and covering 25 yards.

Ash finished with 230 yards on nine completions and those three touchdowns. Lopez needed 15 carries to tally his 170 yards while Sykes picked up 115 yards on just five carries.

CROSS COUNTRY

The boys' cross country team endured the weather and outlasted two of their three opponents to pick up two wins last week. "In spite of the conditions today, our runners raced well. Sometimes it is important to be able to concentrate on racing rather than being distracted by conditions and our team was able to do that," said head coach Pete Fox of his team's wins over Camp Hill and West Shore Christian Academy.

Will Brown led the Blue Raiders to a 23-35 win over Camp Hill and a 26-33 victory over West Shore Christian Academy with a time of 20:04. Zach Malay finished at 20:50 while Jalen Rowley (21:20) and Kenny Britcher (21:37) crossed the finish line 17 seconds apart. Tanner Albright rounded out the top five for Middletown with a 22:13.

Angie Hernandez posted the quickest Lady Raider time, finishing the 3.1-mile course in 26:46. Casey Eckert was the next Raider to finish, doing so with a time of 28:05. Bankshita Devkota completed Middletown's trio with a time of 41:13.

FIELD HOCKEY

The field hockey team remains in search of their first victory after falling to Northern York and Eastern York last week. The Northern York loss took place on September 25th with Natasha Manfred tallying nine saves in the 8-0 result. Middletown found themselves on the wrong end of another shutout, this one by a 3-0 count, on September 29th when Eastern York came to town. Manfred picked up another eight saves on the day.

TENNIS

The girls' tennis team picked up their second victory of the 2018 season on September 27th when they took down Susquehanna Township 3-2. All three Lady Raider wins came in singles play starting with Mahnoor Azim topping Shaye Dietrich at number one. Azim earned the win with scores of 6-4 and 6-2. Anna Buffington matched the straight set win, posting 6-0 and 6-1 finals over Gabby Frye in number two singles. Angie Torres made it three straight wins with a 6-3, 6-0 showing over Justice Rooney.

The Lady Raiders did fall to Bishop McDevitt by a 5-0 final on Monday.

GOLF

Cole Grabuloff's golf season officially came to a close on September 24th when the junior finished 82nd at the Mid-Penn Championship at Dauphin Highlands. Grabuloff finished his round with no birdies and just two pars on his way to a 29-over round of 101.

GIRLS' SOCCER

The girls' soccer team hit the pitch twice last week, dropping both games to fall to 2-7 with eight games remaining in the regular season. East Pennsboro handed Middletown the first loss, scoring two goals late in the contest to steal a 3-2 win. Jade Senior netted Middletown's first half score while Camyrn Russ converted a second half penalty kick after setting up Senior's score. Amanda Lee finished with nine saves.

Lee's 13 saves against Bishop McDevitt on the 25th were not enough as Middletown fell by a 2-0 count. The Lady Crusaders turned what had been a tight one score game into a comfortable two goal victory with a late insurance goal.

VOLLEYBALL

The girls' volleyball team split a pair of matches last week, falling to West Perry on Monday and beating Harrisburg on Wednesday. Middletown nearly finished off the West Perry match in four games with a 25-21 game one win plus a 26-24 game three win putting the Lady Mustangs on the brink. West Perry was able to add to their 25-22 game two win and pick up the victory thanks to a 25-19 game four final and a 15-7 game five final.

Hannah Wilsbach tallied 16 digs, two kills and two aces in the loss while Katie Knaub added seven assists, seven digs, four kills and three aces. Alexis Harmon finished with six aces, five kills and two digs and Cassie Ebersole capped the team leaders with six kills and one block.

The Lady Raiders picked up their third win in their last four matches with a 3-0 victory over Harrisburg on September 26th. Middletown took the opening game with ease, 25-13, but had to sweat out matching 25-20 wins in games two and three to secure the sweep.

Ebersole (seven kills) and Harmon (six kills) led the attack with the pair adding five combined aces and one Harmon dig. Carly Dupes finished with a team high 10 assists but Courtney Shaffer was close behind with six assists to go with four aces and one kill. Dupes added three kills while Wilsbach contributed with 11 digs and one ace.

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team ended up on the wrong side of all three of their games last week and now have twice as many losses on the season as wins. The Blue Raiders carry a 4-8 mark into their final six games of the 2018 season.

Middletown's first loss of the week took place on Monday with Sami Almouzani netting the game's only goal in the 18th minute to give the visiting Panthers the 1-0 win. Caleb Springer turned away seven shots in the loss.

Three days later the Blue Raiders made the trip to Elliottsburg for a battle with West Perry. The Mustangs, behind Jessiah Osbeck's two goals, handed Middletown a 5-0 loss for the trip home. Springer finished with three saves.

Middletown made the trek to Kinzers for Saturday's tilt with Pequea Valley and the Lancaster-Lebanon League Indians handed the Blue Raiders an 8-3 loss. Three separate players scored for Middletown but it was not enough to overcome TJ Hershey (four goals) and Elijah Elkins (two goals) combined six goals. Springer picked up another five saves while LaVia, Griffey Meyer and Gary Mensah accounted for the first half scores.

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Middletown Volleyball Tops CDE, Steel-High September 24, 2018

The girls' volleyball team is riding a two-match winning streak after topping Central Dauphin East and Steel-High to close out last week. The Lady Raiders did pick up a loss on September 15th, falling to Manheim Central 3-0.

Middletown posted wins of 25-11, 25-8 and 25-12 to slip by Central Dauphin East on Wednesday but a 27-25 game two win for the Lady Panthers kept the Lady Raiders from the three-game sweep. Kendal Stiffler and Alexis Harmon led the offense by evenly splitting 12 kills while combining for five aces. Carly Dupes and Courtney Shaffer added five kills apiece while Hannah Wilsbach chipped in with 11 digs and five aces.

Another 27-25 loss against Steel-High once again kept the Lady Raiders from earning a sweep but wins of 25-6, 25-15 and 25-21 allowed Middletown to post the 3-1 victory. Harmon led the way with nine kills, four aces and two digs with Lani Moore adding six kills and two aces. Shaffer and Cassie Ebersole had matching three kill games while Shaffer tallied five aces and Ebersole three.

FOOTBALL

As they have numerous times over the last few years, the Middletown football team made the scoreboard spin on their way to another victory. Only this time they had help from the host Rollers as the teams combined for 88 points in Middletown's 48-40 victory on September 21st. The win moved the Blue Raiders to 4-1 on the year and kept them in a first-place tie in the Capital Division along with Palmyra and Milton Hershey.

Richie Sykes was the star of the show against Steel-High, scoring five of Middletown's seven touchdowns. The senior scored two TDs on six rushing attempts, was on the receiving end of Middletown's lone passing score, intercepted three passes, returning one to the house while still finding the time and energy to return a kickoff for a score. Middletown needed every single one of those touchdowns because the Rollers hung around thanks 324 yards passing and 444 total yards.

Despite all the Sykes antics it was the Rollers that struck first with Nicari Williams finding Javion Grant for the first of two scoring hook-ups for the pair. This 39-yard completion made it 7-0 with 7:21 remaining in the opening frame. Sykes provided his first flash two minutes later by snagging a six-yard Scott Ash toss for a 7-7 game. Sykes moved Middletown in front 13-7 when he picked off a Williams pass and returned it 46 yards for the score with just under three minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

Steel-High dominated the second quarter, outscoring Middletown 20-7 behind Williams. The signal caller made it a 13-all game by hitting Mehki Flowers for a 23-yard score then moved his Rollers in front with a one-yard plunge that came with 1:16 remaining before intermission. A Blue Raider miscue led to a 34-yard fumble return for a TD from Tyrone Moore just 12 seconds later, giving Steel-High a 27-13 lead. The Middletown offense got right back on track which allowed Jose Lopez to pick up the first of his two scores with 3.9 seconds remaining in the half. The one-yard score made it 27-20 at the break.

Sykes controlled the third quarter, ripping off scoring runs of 67 and 39 yards for the only two Middletown scores. Steel-High added the second Williams to Grant pairing, this one a 26-yard strike, that sent the teams into the final stanza knotted at 34-34. The Rollers moved in front one final time when Williams collected the last of his four passing touchdowns. William found Saleek Clayton for a nine-yard score with 11:11 left in the game but a missed extra point left the door open. Sykes stepped through that opening, making one final splash on the ensuing kickoff, returning it 88 yards to paydirt which moved Middletown ahead 41-40. Lopez capped his 147-yard game with an insurance TD that came with 1:49 left in the contest, setting the 48-40 final.

TENNIS

The girls' tennis team continued their march to the end of their regular season with two matches last week. Both contests ended with Middletown on the wrong side of 5-0 finals with Camp Hill handing out the September 19th loss while James Buchanan accounted for the second loss one day later. With the 0-2 week the Lady Raiders fall to 1-10 on the year.

GOLF

The two-man golf team wrapped up their regular season with their final two matches last week. The first saw the rest of the Capital Division invade Sunset Golf Course on September 18th for Middletown's lone home match of the year. Cole Grabuloff's familiarity with the course allowed him to finish 15th on the day with a round of 89 while Justin Yohn finished 10 shots behind his teammate with a round of 99.

Two days later the Blue Raiders trekked around Armitage Golf Club for the final round of the regular season. Grabuloff finished in a three-way tie for 15th along with Boiling Springs' Connor Truex and East Pennsboro's Jack Thompson. Yohn carded a 101 for his round.

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team split a pair of games last week, leaving the Blue Raiders with a 4-5 mark at the midway point of the season. Middletown opened the week on Tuesday with a 4-1 loss to Trinity. Dagan Hughes broke-up Trinity's shutout bid with help from Anthony LaVia and Garrett Miller but it was not enough to undo the work of Trinity's two-headed Chris-monster. Chris Hartley scored two goals and added one assist while Chris Williams tallied one goal and one assist in the win.

The Blue Raiders rebounded on Sept 20th with a 2-1 victory over East Pennsboro. Griffin Meyer led the way, assisting on Ben Knisely's third minute score that gave Middletown a 1-0 lead. Meyer added what proved to be a needed insurance goal in the 25th minute that made it 2-0. Jacob Henry broke up Caleb Springer's shutout bid with a second half score but the Middletown keeper was able to collect the win thanks to two saves.

FIELD HOCKEY

The field hockey team dropped all four of their games last week and now sit at 0-8 on the year. Three of the four losses were of the shutout variety starting with a 5-0 affair on the 18th. Milton Hershey handed out that loss while Camp Hill did the damage on Thursday by handing Middletown a 4-0 defeat. Lebanon added a 3-0 loss on September 22nd to finish out the week. In between the Lady Raiders fell to Susquenita by an 8-1 count on Wednesday. Abigail Grimland picked up the week's lone goal while Natasha Manfred added seven saves to finish the week with 21 total saves.

GIRLS' SOCCER

The Middletown girls' soccer team struggled last week, suffering losses to East Pennsboro and Camp Hill and dropping the Lady Raiders to 2-5 overall. Middletown kicked off the week on Thursday with a 2-1 loss to East Pennsboro. Jade Senior, with help from Kayli Akakpo-Martin, gave the Lady Raiders a 1-0 lead but East Penn score twice in the game's final 12 minutes to steal the win.

No late game heroics were needed in Saturday's tussle with Camp Hill. The Lady Lions used two goals from Ava Bracket and a goal and an assist from Alison Sepkovic to post a 4-0 win. Amanda Lee finished with six saves after tallying eight in the East Pennsboro loss.

"We are closer than our record indicates, but we need to figure it out quickly before the season gets away from us," said head coach Tim Neff.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross country team hosted their only home meet of the season on Sept 18th and the Blue Raiders came away with a 26-33 win over West Shore Christian and a 21-39 victory over West Perry. Will Brown led the way with a 19:15.3 while Zach Malay checked in with a time of 19:36.6. Tanner Albright (20:03.9), Kenny Britcher (20:12.9) and Jalen Rowley (22:03) finished up the scorers for Middletown. The Lady Raiders had just two runners on the day with Casey Eckert posting a 27:43 and Bankshita Devkota a 41:34.

The Blue Raiders tuned up for their home meet with a trip to Big Spring High School on September 15th to participate in the 23rd Annual Ben Bloser Bulldog Invitational. Brown clocked a personal best 18:40.85 to finish 42nd in the AA field while Malay managed a 69th place finish with his 19:15.52. Britcher, Albright and Rowley all posted sub-20-minute times for the first time this season leading to a 15th place team finish while also qualifying the Blue Raiders for the District 3-AA team championships in a few weeks. Britcher finished 87th with a time of 19:42.71, Albright 92nd with a time of 19:52.19 and Rowley 94th with a time of 19:53.09.

Jaleena Marrero led a trio of Lady Raiders across the finish line, taking 56th place with a 23:49.69. Angela Hernandez crossed the finish line a few seconds later, taking 62nd with a time of 23:56.96. Eckert missed the top 100 by roughly 12 seconds, settling for 102nd place with a time of 26:39.55.

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Middletown Football Crushes Camp Hill, 63-0 September 17, 2018

Back to Blue Raider football is probably the best way to describe Middletown's 63-0 shellacking of Camp Hill last Friday evening. The Blue Raiders racked up 441 yards of offense, 366 on the ground, while holding the visiting Lions to a measly 64 total yards. Add in a fumble return for a touchdown plus a punt return score and one can easily conclude that the Blue Raiders complexly shook off their first regular season loss in over two years.

Middletown all but put the game away with a 28-point first quarter outburst that started when Scott Ash hit Tajae Broadie for a 56-yard score just 1:14 into the game. The lead moved to 14-0 midway through the frame when Cole Senior scooped up a fumble and returned it 51 yards to paydirt. Richie Sykes picked up the first of his three rushing TDs with a four-yard score that came with 2:52 remaining in the frame. Ash made it a four-score contest about 1:30 later with a 61-yard scramble.

Another outburst in the second quarter, this one of the 21-point variety, made it a mercy rule contest before the halftime horn. Lamar Ventura officially put the game into mercy rule territory with his 64-yard punt return touchdown just 32 seconds into the second quarter. Sykes and the Blue Raider offense needed roughly three minutes to stretch the lead to 49-0. The senior running back, who finished with 95 yards on nine carries, broke off TD runs of 19 and 45 yards in a three-minute span that ran from 9:34 of the first quarter to 6:43, capping the first half scoring.

With a running clock the entire second half the Blue Raider scoring was kept to a minimum. Odell Greene accounting for 45 of his team high 116 yards with a third quarter score. Tymir Jackson also picked up large chuck of his 115 yards with Middletown's final touchdown, a 21 yarder with 8:36 remaining in the game.

FIELD HOCKEY

The Middletown field hockey team continues to find their first victory to be elusive. The Lady Raiders dropped both of their games last week to fall to 0-4 on the season. Up first was a 7-0 loss to Bishop McDevitt on Thursday. The Lady Crusaders used two goals each from Julia Vargo, Mary Parker and Sydney Altemose to hand Natasha Manfred (six saves) the loss.

Two days later the Lady Raiders traveled to the north side of Harrisburg to face Susquehanna Township. The trip resulted in a 4-1 loss for Middletown with Alexis Fischer netting the lone Lady Raider score.

GIRLS' SOCCER

Last week proved to be a short and pleasant week for the girls' soccer team. After early week rain postponed their game with Camp Hill to September 22nd the Lady Raiders were left with just a Thursday afternoon affair opposite Milton Hershey. Middletown, behind two scores from Camryn Russ, cruised to a 4-0 victory.

Russ opened the scoring in the 17th minute with help from Hayli Akakpo-Martin then made it a 2-0 game four minutes later by converting a Haylee Sprecher feed. Jade Senior and Akakpo-Martin finished the scoring with unassisted goals in the 25th and 34th minutes. Amanda Lee enjoyed the easy day in goal needing just three saves to earn the clean sheet.

GOLF

The golf team saw their round at Colonial Country Club on September 12th cut to nine holes due to soggy conditions. Cole Grabuloff and Justin Yohn took advantage to post top 15 scores. Grabuloff led the way with a 43 to finish in a sixth-place tie with Boiling Spring's Connor Truex. Yohn finished two strokes back in a 12th place tie with Camp Hill's Jackson Thompson and East Pennsboro's Jack Thompson.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross country team hosted the first of two home meets this season on September 11th. The Blue Raiders fell to both Milton Hershey and Bishop McDevitt despite Will Brown and Zach Malay qualifying for the District 3 meet on the day. Both runners eclipsed the 20-minute mark necessary to qualify for the D-3-AA meet in a few weeks. Brown clocked an 18:55.9 while Malay ran a personal best 19:06.4. Jalen Rowley (20:14), Kenny Britcher (20:29.8) and Jacob Buffington (20:30.8), who also posted a personal best, rounded out the top five.

For the Lady Raiders it was Angie Hernandez leading the way with a district qualifying time of 23:39.6. Jaleena Marrero also surpassed the District 3-AA qualifying mark of 24 minutes with a time of 23:36.3. Casey Eckert (26:23.8) and Bankshita Devkota (39:26.9) also competed for the Lady Raiders.

TENNIS

Despite the rainy weather the girls' tennis team was able to play three matches last week. Unfortunately, Middletown dropped all three with Tuesday's battle opposite East Pennsboro as well as Thursday's clash with Trinity ending in a 5-0 final.

In between those two matches was a 3-2 loss to Harrisburg Academy. Middletown split their two team points between singles and doubles action with Mahnoor Azim picking up the singles victory. She topped Kiersten Greiner in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6, at number one singles. Aayushi Patel and Cassidy Anderson accounted for the doubles victory by taking out Zisha Li and Zoe Gallagher 6-1 and 6-3.

GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

The girls' volleyball team had just one regular season match last week, the result was a 3-0 loss to Northern York on Monday. The Lady Polar Bears posted wins of 25-15, 25-11 and 25-11 to send the Lady Raiders home with the loss. Hannah Wilsbach tallied 14 digs while Abbey Spagnola added 11 digs and one kill. Carly Dupes and Lani Moore combined for seven kills with Dupes adding two digs and three kills.

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team split their two games last week with a 2-1 win over Milton Hershey countering a 4-0 loss to Camp Hill. "We are getting closer each game," said head coach Brian Keyser, "It's a great group of guys who are very unified as a unit."

The Blue Raiders kicked off the week on Tuesday with the 4-0 to Camp Hill. Half of the Lions offense came in the form of Middletown's two own goals that were the result of wacky deflections in the box. One of those deflections came in the first half and along with goals by Kevin Young and Dylan Mayanja gave Camp Hill a 3-0 lead at the break. The only action in the second half was the second own goal that made it a 4-0 final. Caleb Springer turned away six shots in the loss.

The Blue Raiders rebounded on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Milton Hershey. Anthony LaVia broke up the 0-0 tie in the 25th minute with help from Aiden Sessa and Brady Keyser for the only score in the opening half.

Middletown doubled the lead in the 62nd minute with Mason Garza scoring what proved to be a needed insurance goal thanks to Keyser and Garrett Miller providing the setup. Tristan Gyamfi picked up the Spartans goal and kept Dane Ebersole (five saves) from earning the shutout when he scored in the 76th minute.

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Middletown Suffers Surprise Loss to McDevitt September 9, 2018

The Middletown football team has enjoyed historic success the last two seasons, racking up a ridiculous 28-2 mark during that time. But for all the success the Blue Raiders have enjoyed, they found themselves on the opposite side of things last Friday as Bishop McDevitt handed Middletown their first regular season loss in nearly three years. The 40-14 defeat at the hands of the Crusaders not only dropped Middletown from the ranks of the unbeaten this season it was their first regular season loss since October 30th, 2015 when they dropped a 19-18 a nail-bitter to Steel-High.

McDevitt used their high-power aerial attack, led by Chase Diehl, Nazir Burnett and T'nyis Becker, and a stifling defense to cruise to the 26-point victory at War Memorial Field. Diehl, the senior signal caller, finished with six TDs to go with his 455 yards passing while the Crusader defense held Middletown's vaunted rushing attack to just 87 yards with stud back Jose Lopez limited to 59 yards on 20 carries.

Burnett was Diehl's favorite target with the Syracuse commit snagging nine passes for 223 yards and four scores. Three of those TD grabs came during the first half and helped the Crusaders open a 33-7 lead. Richie Sykes accounted for the Middletown score, hauling in a 34-yard strike from Scott Ash that briefly knotted the game at 7-7. Sykes added three more catches in the game, finishing with 68 yards and that first quarter score to front the Blue Raiders' offense.

Bishop McDevitt's other two first half scores were of the big play variety. Becker, who finished with five catches for 160 yards, collected his only score via an 83 hook-up that made it 19-7 late in the first quarter. The final points of the opening half came when Julian Jordan made his only catch of the game, a 74-yard TD with 34-seconds remaining before intermission.

Middletown's second half touchdown was also via a big play with Christopher Joseph on the receiving end of Ash's second TD pass of the game. This one covered 63 yards early in the third stanza and made it a 33-14 game. McDevitt countered with one last strike from Diehl and Burnett to set the final at 40-14.

GIRLS' SOCCER

A busy opening stretch of soccer started well for the Lady Raiders with a 1-0 win over Tulpehocken on August 31st but turned south from there with losses to Bishop McDevitt, West Perry and Susquehanna Township.

Camyrn Russ, with help from Marly Fox, scored the lone goal in the season opening win against Tulpehocken. The Lady Raider offense struggled against McDevitt and West Perry, suffering shutout losses in both affairs, 2-0 to the Lady Crusaders on September 4th and 3-0 to the Lady Mustangs on the 8th. Amanda Lee was in goal for all three of those games finishing with two saves in the Tulpehocken win, six against Bishop McDevitt and three against West Perry.

The offense returned on Saturday, September 8th, scoring three goals, but the Lady Raiders still took a loss as Susquehanna Township managed to go one better, picking up a 4-3 win. Russ netted two of the three scores with Abbey Leister picking up the other. Jade Senior helped with one assist while Ruth Hoffman stepped between the pipes and finished with seven stops.

BOYS' SOCCER

A strong start for the boys' soccer team has led to a mini-slump for the Blue Raiders. Middletown opened the season on September 1st by taking part in the Spartan Soccer Tournament at Wyomissing. The Blue Raiders fell short of a title with a 5-0 loss to the host squad in the championship game. Middletown earned that title shot by topping Schuylkill Valley 2-1 in their opener.

That success carried over to Middletown's September 4th tangle with Bishop McDevitt. Behind the work of Anthony LaVia and Griffin Meyer the Blue Raiders cruised to a 4-0 win. Meyer picked up the first of his two assists by setting up LaVia's first goal, giving Middletown a 1-0 lead. LaVia and Meyer teamed up to help Joey Spear make it a 2-0 game before intermission while Mason Garza pushed the lead to 3-0 with his second half PK conversion. LaVia capped the scoring with his second lamp lighter, this one coming off feeds from Ben Knisely and Brady Keyser. Caleb Springer kept McDevitt off the board by turning away 11 shots.

The mini-slump started with a 2-0 loss to West Perry on the 6th and continued with a 2-1 overtime loss to Susquehanna Township on the 8th. Garza accounted for the lone goal against Susquehanna Township, netting another penalty kick score, this one coming in the 66th minute and countering the Indian's early goal. The game remained deadlocked until the 89th minute when Township's Duncan Andrew converted a penalty kick of his own to hand Middletown the loss.

FIELD HOCKEY

Mother Nature conspired to delay the start of the field hockey season for Middletown, pushing what was supposed to be the Lady Raiders' opener against Eastern York on August 31st to a to be determined future date. Once the Lady Raiders did finally get their season underway they founded themselves on the wrong end of two shutout losses. The first, an 8-0 final, came on September 5th to Camp Hill with a 5-0 loss to Northern York following one day later.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross-country team kicked off their 2018 campaign on September 4th with a trip to Trinity to battle the host Shamrocks as well as Northern York. The trip resulted in two losses for the boys' team, 17-43 to Northern and 26-29 to Trinity, while the Lady Raiders came home with two no decisions as they are a few runners short of fielding a full team.

Will Brown led the way for the boy's team, clocking a 20:18 with Angie Hernandez taking the lead for the girl's team thanks to her 25:34. Zach Malay (20:26) and Tanner Albright (20:58) both cracked the 21-minute mark while Kenny Britcher (21:01) just missed joining them. Jacob Buffington completed Middletown's top five by finishing with a 22:06.

Casey Eckert was the second Lady Raider to finish, turning in a 30:02. Bankshita Devkota was the last of the three girl's runner, finishing with a time of 49:25 thanks to a wrong turn on the course.

GOLF

The two-member golf team is halfway through their regular season, having hit the links four times. With only two members, the Blue Raiders do not qualify for the team competition so Cole Grabuloff and Justin Yohn compete for postseason berths on their own.

Grabuloff kicked off the season on August 16th with a round of 83 on Middletown's home course. Yohn finished that same round at Sunset with a 105. The pair's next round came at Mayapple Golf Club on August 20th. Grabuloff was able to remain in double digits with a round of 96 but Yohn was not as fortunate, finishing with a 108. Next up was a trip to West Shore Country Club on August 27th where Grabuloff finished sixth with a score of 86. This time Yohn was able to break into double digits with a round of 99.

Middletown's final match of August sent Grabuloff and Yohn to Royal Oaks Golf Cub where Grabuloff posted a round of 89, good enough for 15th on the day. Yohn finished his day with a 109.

TENNIS

The girl's tennis team braved the heat last week for two matches, splitting the pair to sit at 1-5 on the year. The Lady Raiders nipped Susquehanna Township, 3-2, on Tuesday by winning two of the three singles matches. Mahnoor Azim grabbed one of those wins at number one singles. Angie Torres claimed the other singles win, taking out Justice Rooney in straight sets at number three singles.

Middletown's third win came at number one doubles where Aayushi Patel and Cassidy Anderson teamed up to top Taryn Woodson and Avani Patel, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

The Lady Raiders had their second match of the week, a September 6th tilt opposite Camp Hill, called due to rain with the Lady Lions leading 4-0.

Middletown's victory over Susquehanna Township was not only their first but it broke a string of four straight 5-0 losses to open the season. Those losses were to East Pennsboro, Trinity, James Buchanan and Bishop McDevitt.

VOLLEYBALL

The girls' volleyball team enjoyed a stellar start to their regular season with wins over Harrisburg and Milton Hershey. On September 4th the Lady Raiders swept Harrisburg with the work of Cassie Ebersole, Alexis Harmon and Hannah Wilsbach leading to wins of 25-9, 25-23 and 25-9.

"Our girls didn't stay as focused as they should have in game two," said head coach Lisa Huber of the closer than expected second game. "Harrisburg started to get some momentum and made some big plays defensively to catch us off guard."

Ebersole finished with seven kills and two aces while Harmon added five aces and seven digs to her five kills. Wilsbach chipped in with 10 digs and one ace.

Another lapse of focus forced Middletown into a five-game nail biter with Milton Hershey two days later. After winning the opening game 25-18 the Lady Raiders dropped two straight, 25-17, 25-11.

"We struggled with staying focused in games two and three and gave Milton Hershey the opportunity to gain some momentum," said Huber, "Once the girls settled in and started passing/hitting in game four, the momentum started to shift."

That momentum shift allowed the Lady Raiders to stave off the loss with a 25-18 game four win before closing out the victory with a 15-11 game five win. Carly Dupes and Alex Kennedy posted a team high five kills apiece with Kennedy adding one block and Dupes two aces. Ebersole chipped in with four kills and three aces while Lani Moore finished with three kills and a team high four aces.

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Middletown Teams Cap Spring Seasons May 21, 2018

Everyone knows that April showers bring May flowers but what do May showers bring?? For mid-state high school sports teams both types of showers bring headaches that come with shuffling and re-shuffling a carefully crafted schedule. For the Middletown softball team that meant a total of seven games having to be moved around including what was scheduled to be an April 16th game opposite Susquehanna Township. The teams finally ended up getting the game in, a month later, on May 14th where Middletown used a strong outing from Madison Gipe coupled with three hit games from Jordyn Dupes and Hayli Akakpo-Martin to enjoy an 8-5 victory.

Gipe ended up on the winning end of things but the game stared in a much different fashion. The freshman issued her only two walks of the game to the first two batters she faced, leading to an early 2-0 hole. Middletown responded with the first of two, three-run frames, taking the lead and never looking back. The Lady Raiders stretched their lead to 4-2 with a single run in the second before adding another lone run in the bottom of the fourth for a 5-2 cushion. Middletown enjoyed their second three run burst in the sixth to make it an 8-2 game. Those final three runs would become necessary after the Indians plated their final three in the top of the seventh to set the 8-5 final.

Gipe tossed all seven innings and earned the win and despite being on the hook for all five Township runs, only three were earned. She added four strikeouts and seven hits allowed to go with those two first inning free passes.

Dupes paced the offense, picking up her team leading fifth triple as part of her three hit, one RBI game. All three of Akakpo-Martin's hits were of the single base variety with the junior managing to turn each hit into a Middletown run. Maddie Sweigert enjoyed the final multi-hit game, rapping out two singles in four trips to the plate. With six Susquehanna Township errors aiding the Lady Raider cause Noelle Zimmerman picked up the final Middletown RBI with her lone hit of the contest.

With the win over Township and the suspended game with Trinity officially going in the books as a 5-5 tie the Lady Raiders finished with a 5-14-1 overall mark and a 3-8-1 record in Mid-Penn play.

Head coach Mike Thomas offered a look back on a season that saw his club miss the District 3-3A cut. "I hate to beat a dead horse about our injuries this year, but I can honestly say since game one we were without 3-4 starters every game, and at least once we were without 5," said Thomas. "I had a ton of confidence in our bench, but a lot of times the problems were kids were not playing their normal positions and it took them a time to adjust, and as soon as they got used to that position if was off to another."

Despite enough injuries to fill an ER and the less than desirable win-loss results, Thomas is already looking forward to next year. "We have a young squad and I'm optimistic and excited for what the future holds," commented the coach. "Most of our team consists of sophomores and freshman and some good talent is coming up from our local U-14 teams."

BASEBALL

The wet weather also got to the baseball team, forcing the Blue Raiders to cancel their season finale with Hershey. The contest was actually slated to be the season opener back on March 23rd but snow pushed the game to May 11th before rain delayed the game to May 16th. More rain on the 16th caused the two sides to scrap the contest with both Middletown and Hershey already set in their postseason fate. For the Blue Raiders and their 10-9 overall record, that meant a walk into the offseason courtesy of their 12th place finish in the final District 3-4A power rankings.

TRACK

With all the rain and wet weather popping up throughout the spring it was fitting that the 2018 edition of the District 3 Championship meet was held in less than ideal conditions. Middletown sent just two representatives to Shippensburg University for the championship meet on May 18th and 19th, both from the Lady Raider side of things. Lily Fager got in all her work on Friday, competing in the 2A discus competition. The senior thrower fell short of her seeded distance but maintained her seed place to finish in sixth position with a best throw of 95-7.

Jocilyn Koser was the second Lady Raider to make the trip to Shippensburg. The junior sprinter started her two-day affair with 100m and 200m trials on Friday. Despite finishing fifth in her heat she advanced out of the 100m prelims based on her time of 13.36. The good fortunate would stop there as her 13.51 in the semifinals left her short of a spot in the finals.

She found a little more success in the 200, finishing second in both her prelim and semifinal heat to earn a spot in Saturday's finals. She ran nearly identical times of 26.84 and 26.86 on Friday but was a step slower in the finals with her 27.56 placing her seventh. Koser had one final event on Saturday, using her spot in the faster of the two 300H heats to turn in an eighth-place finish thanks to a time of 50.42.

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Middletown Baseball Sits 12th in D3-4A Rankings May 15, 2018

As the calendar runs deeper into May, the pressure that comes with each baseball game only grows. The Middletown diamond dwellers found that out last week as two critical early week wins over Palmyra and Steel-High had their luster removed with a late week loss to Trinity. The 2-1 week put Middletown at 10-9 overall, good enough for 12th place in the most current District 3-4A rankings but still two places outside the 10-team postseason field.

The highlight of the week came on May 8th when the Blue Raiders trampled Steel-High by an 11-1 count in a game that went just five innings.

"Senior day was a great day for our seniors. Everyone played and had success," said head coach Mike Lupia.

Senior Dom Barilla picked up the easy win, covering the initial two and two-third innings. He did not allow a hit but a pair of walks coupled with a Blue Raider error put one unearned run under his belt to go with five strikeouts. Scott Ash finished the third, allowing the Rollers lone hit on the day while Brady Keyser closed the game out by covering the final two innings. Keyser added three more punchouts to bring Middletown's total to eight in the game.

Blake Jacoby and Aaron McDevitt led the way at the plate with three RBI days. Jacoby drove in all of his runs as part of Middletown's eight run second inning, connecting for a double on his only hit of the game. McDevitt also picked up his RBIs as part of that monster second inning only he did his work over two separate at-bats. In his first at-bat of the frame McDevitt followed Matt Schopf's leadoff double with a double of his own, pushing Schopf across for a 3-0 lead. As the Blue Raiders batted around in the frame McDevitt came back up with two-on, a triple to left cleared the bases, pushing Middletown's lead to 10-0 and gave McDevitt his second and third RBI of the game.

Offense was scarce one day earlier as Middletown topped Palmyra 2-0. Thankfully the Blue Raiders did not need more than those two runs as Jacoby tossed a gem on the hill to secure the win. The righty went all seven innings and allowed just two Palmyra hits, a second inning double and a sixth inning single, to go with six strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter.

The Blue Raiders scored both of their runs in the bottom of the fifth, using some small ball tactics coupled with timely Cougar errors. McDevitt started the rally with a lead-off single, Kyle Truesdale followed with a one out base knock, moving McDevitt to third. Scott Ash was the next Blue Raider in the batter's box. He ended up becoming one of eight Palmyra strikeout victims but the Blue Raiders still scored during his at-bat. Truesdale swiped second on the second pitch of Ash's at-bat and when the throw eluded Palmyra's shortstop. McDevitt used the opportunity to race home for a 1-0 lead. Truesdale used the same error to advance to third which setup his steal of home two batters later. Jacoby was able to make the 2-0 lead hold up by retiring six of the final seven batters he faced, closing out the win.

Middletown's playoff chances took a hit as the Blue Raiders closed out the week with a 9-2, two-day, loss to Trinity. The game began on Thursday the 10th but passing storms in the top of the fifth pushed the competition of the game to Friday the 11th. Lupia chalked up the loss in "a game we needed to win" to pitch count rules, saying, "we ran out of pitching on Thursday."

The result was four different pitchers combining to cover the six innings with no pitcher throwing more than two innings. Adam Kell get the start and covered the first two frames, allowing both of Trinity's second innings runs. He ended up with a no decision as Middletown managed to tie the game with two third inning runs leading to Barilla taking the loss. Barilla covered the first six batters of the third, allowing two hits and issuing three walks that led to three Shamrock runs and a 5-2 Trinity lead.

Brady Keyser finished out the third and covered the fourth, allowing four more Trinity runs on four hits, setting the 9-2 final. Ash was on the mound for the final two innings, picking up two strikeouts along the way.

The Blue Raiders used another combination of timely hitting, small ball tactics and a Trinity error to plate those third innings runs. Truesdale led off with a single to center then swiped second to move into scoring position. That ended up being not all that important thanks to a Trinity error that turned Ash's would be triple to right into an inside the park homer. The 'Rock miscue allowed both Truesdale and Ash to score and made it a 2-2 game before Trinity regained control in the bottom of the frame.

Truesdale added a fifth inning single to his day while Tim Wagner enjoyed the only other multi-hit day for Middletown, rapping out two base hits. Avery Williams and Cam Peters picked up the remaining two Blue Raider hits, both singles.

TRACK

The Middletown track and field teams finished their regular season and kicked off their postseason last week.

The Blue Raiders closed out the regular season on May 7th against Bishop McDevitt in a meet that had originally been scheduled as the team's opener back in March. Snow moved the meet to early May where McDevitt posted a 97-53 win on the boy's side and a 117-33 victory on the girls' side.

The Blue Raiders postseason began in Chambersburg on May 11th and 12th with the Mid-Penn Championship Meet. Middletown came home with four top eight finishes, all on the boy's side. Brendan Douglass picked up two of those, taking eighth in the discus and the shot put. The senior earned his way to the medal stand with a toss of 135-4 in the discus and 44-9.5 in the shot put.

Matthew Frehse turned in a 41.17 in the 300H to claim seventh in the 35-person field. Tyrelle Gallatin picked up the last Middletown medal which was also the best Blue Raiders finish. Gallatin finished the 200 finals heat with the fifth fastest time, 22.48, which ended up as the fifth fastest time once results were sorted from all five heats.

SOFTBALL

The Blue Raider softball team continued their season long slump, dropping games opposite Palmyra, Kennard-Dale and Hershey by a combined 41-8. The three losses put Middletown at 4-14 overall and 3-8 in Capital Division play.

The week opened on Monday with a 10-0, five inning loss to Palmyra. Noelle Zimmerman allowed eight hits and issued four walks over two and one third innings. Maddie Sweigert, who accounted for both of Middletown's hits on offense, pitched a scoreless final inning and two thirds to finish up for Zimmerman.

Middletown dropped another five-inning affair on the 9th, falling to Kennard-Dale 14-1. Madison Gipe covered the pitching duties and took the loss. The sophomore surrendered 13 hits and 14 runs but only nine were earned thanks to four Middletown errors. Gipe added one walk and one strikeout to her pitching day. Haley Baxter, Hailey Hockenberry and Veronica Miller had one hit each to account for the Lady Raider offense.

Middletown's May 10th contest with Trinity saw the game halted after seven innings deadlocked at 5-5. As of press time the two sides were still in discussions on when, or if, the game will be finished. That leaves a 17-7, May 11th, loss to Hershey in what should have been the Lady Raiders season opener as the week's final game.

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Middletown Softballers Fall Short, 4-11 Overall May 7, 2018

It typically doesn't happen often, but every once in a while a high school sports team has to endure one of those weeks where nothing goes right. Take last week for the Middletown softball team. The Lady Raiders opened the week with a West Perry make-up game and followed with their regularly scheduled games opposite East Pennsboro and Camp Hill. Nothing went right for Middletown in those three games resulting in three losses by a combined 46-3, leaving the Lady Raiders at 4-11 on the season with only a handful of games remaining.

Middletown can take some solace knowing that the worst of those losses, an 18-0, four inning affair against East Pennsboro on May 1st, came against one of the top teams in the area. The Lady Panthers are undefeated on the season and currently occupy the top spot in both the Mid-Penn Capital Division standings as well as the District 3-4A power rankings. Cailey Joyce made life easy for her East Penn teammates, earning the win without allowing a single hit or issuing one walk while striking out nine of the 12 batters she faced.

The going was not as easy for Middletown's pitching tandem of Noelle Zimmerman and Hayley Baxter. Zimmerman got the start and took the loss after surrendering eight runs over two and two-third innings. Baxter absorbed the final 10 Lady Panthers runs while covering the final one and one third inning. Together they issued 10 free passes against three strikeouts.

One day earlier, Middletown faced West Perry. The Lady Mustangs are one spot below East Pennsboro in the Capital Division standings and three spots back in the 4A power rankings. Making matters worse, two of the three losses West Perry suffered came against East Pennsboro.

With all of that stacked against Middletown, the game went as well as one could expect. Behind a no-hit pitching performance from Cori Ritter, the Lady Mustangs cruised to a 17-0 victory. Baxter was in the circle for all four innings, issuing two walks with no strikeouts in the loss.

The Lady Raiders were finally able to get their bats going on May 3rd but despite collecting 10 hits on the day Middletown still fell to Camp Hill by an 11-3 final. Baxter took her second straight loss for five innings of work with Maddie Sweigert covering the final inning of the seven-inning contest. Jordyn Dupes and Katie Fitzpatrick led an offense that scored single runs in the first, third and sixth innings. Dupes smacked a base hit and a double to drive in two runs while Fitzpatrick collected one RBI on three singles.

TRACK

The track and field teams both dropped their dual match with Trinity last week. The Lady Raiders fell by a 121-28 final while the boys dropped a close one 79-62.

BASEBALL

On the baseball diamond, Middletown suffered through a difficult week, dropping two 10-run rule games. The Blue Raiders did manage to squeeze in a 6-1 win over Camp Hill between the two losses. Blake Jacoby covered all seven innings of that May 3rd victory, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out three and walking two. He also helped his cause with a one run double in the bottom of the first that knotted the game at 1-1. Scott Ash helped put Middletown in front with a two-run single in the second while Adam Kell smacked a two-run home run in the fifth to cap the scoring.

Head coach Mike Lupia called the game "a huge win for our playoff push" as the Blue Raiders currently occupy the first spot outside the 10 team 4A field with one week remaining in the regular season.

Middletown kicked off the week on May 1st with a 13-0 loss to one of the 10 teams residing above Middletown in the District 3-4A rankings, East Pennsboro. The Blue Raiders managed just one hit.

"We were not ready to play and seemed to lack some energy," said Lupia. "East Penn is a quality team but the score should not have been that bad."

Scott Ash covered the first two innings and was hit with the loss after East Pennsboro plated 10 of their 13 runs under his watch. Dom Barilla covered the final two innings and three Panther runs, all earned. Ash, Avery Williams and Cam Peters picked up one hit each to cover the Middletown offense on the day.

Friday saw Middletown host Lower Dauphin where another difficult day at the plate combined with pitch count limits and an injury to Kell led to a 14-4 loss. The Blue Raiders plated four runs but did so with just two hits. Both of those RBI singles, one each by Kyle Truesdale and Aaron McDevitt, came as part of a four run fourth inning that shrank LD's lead from 6-0 to 6-4. Kell wasn't able to pitch but still played and drove in one of those fourth inning runs when he hit into a fielder's choice. Williams accounted for the final run of the inning in the same fashion.

Barilla got the start and took the loss with the Falcons tagging him for their first six runs over two and one third innings. Garrett Miller took over for Barilla, allowing seven earned runs over two innings of work. Owen Haederer recorded the final two outs but not before Lower Dauphin was able to score one final run.

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Middletown Baseball Tops M. Hershey Twice April 30, 2018

It is no secret that the odd spring weather has made a crazy hot mess of high school sport schedules. Games are being postponed and rescheduled multiple times or straight up being canceled as available dates for both teams quickly dwindle. But not all the resulting chaos has been bad, in fact some of it falls under 'odd' or 'interesting.' Take for example Middletown, a few weeks ago all that reshuffling had the boy's tennis team playing the same team on back-to-back days, then doing it again with a totally different team a few days later. The baseball team played though that same type of scheduling quirk, albeit against one opponent and just one set of back-to-back games. Those two games were against Milton Hershey and the teams battled on Monday and Tuesday of last week.

Middletown came out of both contests victorious and needed only five innings to emerge from Monday's game on top 15-2. David Alcock covered the first four innings to pick up the win. He finished with more strikeouts (five) than walks (one), hits (four) or runs allowed (two), making the abundant run support welcome but unnecessary. Dom Barilla closed out the game with a near perfect fifth inning, a single walk keeping him from perfection.

Adam Kell and Blake Jacoby led the production at the plate with a combined four RBI on three hits. Kell accounted for just one of those three base knocks but the fourth inning single pushed two runs across and extended Middletown's lead to 14-2. Jacoby followed Kell's fourth inning hit with a single of his own, plating the Blue Raiders final run, pairing nicely with a second inning single that also scored one run.

The teams were back on the diamond on Tuesday, only this time using Middletown's facilities. The result was a 7-4 Blue Raider victory where Scott Ash shook off some early trouble to pick up the win. The Spartans tagged Ash for three runs in the first and a single run in the third but the junior righty settled in from there, closing out his six inning stretch with three straight scoreless frames. Kell covered the top of the seventh to finish things up and added another two punch outs to Ash's 10.

Avery Williams and Matt Schopf stepped up to lead offense this time around. Schopf helped Middletown keep pace with Milton Hershey's early surge, rapping out run producing singles in both the first and third innings. That set the stage for Williams as it kept the Blue Raiders within striking distance at 4-3. Williams capitalized with RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings, helping Middletown take the lead on their way to the win.

The back-to-back wins over Milton Hershey pushed Middletown's winning streak to six games but that streak came to a crashing halt with a 6-1 loss to Northern York on April 26th. The Blue Raiders lone run came in the top of the fifth when Kyle Truesdale was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, pushing Cameron Peters across and making it a 6-1 game.

Schopf, Alcock and Tim Wagner accounted for Middletown's four hits, all singles, with Schopf the only Blue Raider to enjoy a multi-hit game. Jacoby covered all six innings on the hill to take the loss, collecting four strikeouts to go with three walks and seven hits allowed and those six earned runs.

SOFTBALL

The wacky weather had the softball team playing the same off schedule as the baseball team, back-to-back games against Milton Hershey followed by a single contest opposite Northern York. The results even payed out in the same fashion, two wins over the Lady Spartans followed by a loss to the Lady Polar Bears.

Middletown started their week with a mercy rule victory, topping Milton Hershey 19-4 in Monday's match-up. Hayley Baxter covered all four innings in the circle for the Lady Raiders, scattering six hits and three walks that led to the four Lady Spartan runs. Baxter picked up one strikeout on her way to the win.

Katie Fitzpatrick, Maddie Sweigert and Noelle Zimmerman carried the big bats that produced eight runs in the first, six in the second and the final five in the bottom of the fourth. Fitzpatrick used three singles to collect three RBI while Zimmerman picked up three RBI on two singles and a triple. Sweigert also drove in three runs but did so on two hits, a single and a triple.

One day later it was Zimmerman in the circle enjoying the plentiful run support in a 13-5 victory. Milton Hershey did get to Zimmerman for five runs in the fifth which led to Baxter pitching the final two and one third innings but the quick Lady Spartan burst was only a minor threat to a 9-0 Middletown lead. The Lady Raiders tacked on their final four runs in the top of the sixth to set the final.

Jordyn Dupes finished with just one hit, a triple, but did account for three RBI on the day. Hayli Akakpo-Martin, Fitzpatrick, Zimmerman and Hailey Hockenberry all had multi-hit days but only Akakpo-Martin and Fitzpatrick added two-RBI games to their days. Hockenberry and Zimmerman matched Fitzpatrick and Akakpo-Martin's two singles but could not match their two RBI games, settling for one instead. Alexandria Kennedy picked up Middletown's final RBI on a sac fly.

Middletown found the going more difficult on April 26th with Northern York handing the Lady Raiders a 13-5 loss. Madison Gipe stepped up from the JV squad to handle the pitching duties and took the loss. The sophomore surrendered 16 hits and two walks that led to 13 earned runs and 17 total runs in the five-inning affair.

The Lady Raiders had as many errors as they did hits, six, with Fitzpatrick and Akakpo-Martin accounting for two hits each. Fitzpatrick drove in two runs and scored two runs with a single and double while Akakpo-Martin scored two runs with one RBI on her matching single and double day at the plate. Dupes and Zimmerman picked up the final two Middletown hits.

TRACK

The track and field teams traveled to Dillsburg on April 24th to battle the Polar Bears of Northern York. The boys came home with a 110-40 loss added to their resume while the girls suffered a 128-22 defeat.

TENNIS

The boy's tennis season saw their 2018 season come to a close last week with one final dual match as well as the Mid-Penn Flight Tournament. The Blue Raiders dropped their regular season finale, which took place on April 24th, to James Buchanan by a 4-1 final. Tommy Lee accounted for the lone win, dropping Levi Grove 7-5, 7-5 in number two singles.

The Blue Raiders spent Thursday April 26th competing in the Mid-Penn Tournament. Jacob Spear dropped his flight one singles match opposite Susquehanna Township's Ehi Jatto by a 5-7, 3-6 final, bringing his singles season to a close. Camp Hill's Alex Landis did the same to Lee's singles campaign courtesy of a 6-0, 6-0 win in the Flight Two pairing. Donovan Brady's season came to a close with a 3-6, 3-6 loss to East Pennsboro's Jake Henry but not before he managed to collect a 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 win over Noah Shank of James Buchanan.

Middletown's entries into the doubles brackets ran into Panther related problems. Both pairings, Steven Mosher and Kyle Shatto in flight one as well as Zac Purvis and Levi Ettu in flight two fell to East Pennsboro opponents. Mosher and Shatto dropped their first-round match to Evan Haas and Ethan Kesner 2-6, 0-6 while Purvis and Ettu ended up on the wrong side of a 2-6, 2-6 final to William Demaisip and Grant Zemanek. Middletown's final doubles pairing of Spear and Lee, faced Susquehanna Township's Ehi Jatto and Jack Ferguson in a District 3-AA play-in game. Spear and Lee joined their teammates in the offseason with a 4-6, 4-6 loss to the Township duo.

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Middletown Softball Slips to 2-7 on the Year April 23, 2018

Typically, when the phrase 'three-peat' is tossed around in the sports world the conversation involves championships of some type. For the Middletown softball team, the phrase carries a totally different meaning as the Lady Raiders season unfolds. With losses to Trinity, Central Dauphin East and West Perry last week Middletown posted their second three game slide of the season, dropping their record to 2-7 on the year and 1-4 in Mid-Penn Capital Division play. Despite the struggles head coach Mike Thomas has kept his message positive, with a short and simple, "keep your heads up," mantra to the team.

The week of woe started on April 17th with an 11-1 loss to Trinity. The Lady Shamrocks needed just six hits to produce their 11 runs thanks to three Middletown errors and a combined 15 walks issued by Noelle Zimmerman and Hayley Baxter. Thomas mentioned the plethora of free passes from his pitching staff as a downfall this season.

"Pitching has been a struggle with walks," said Thomas. "The pitchers know their problems and I'm confident they will work through them."

While the staff works to correct their troubles on the fly, the result was 11 walks from starter Noelle Zimmerman which helped lead to nine Trinity runs and a loss for the hurler. Zimmerman surrendered just four hits during her three and two third innings which was also the number of strikeouts she collected during her time on the mound. Hayley Baxter finished in the circle for Middletown, walking four with no strikeouts to go with the final two Lady Shamrock runs.

Katie Fitzpatrick was responsible for Middletown's lone run courtesy of a solo blast in the first inning. Jordyn Dupes, Maddy Sweigert and Alysa Ulrich picked up one hit each to round out the Lady Raider offense.

Friday's 12-8 loss to Central Dauphin East brought more of the same for Middletown. This time it was Sweigert getting the start and shouldering most of the work with eight walks against three strikeouts in four and one third innings. The Lady Panthers plated six runs while Sweigert was pitching but only four were earned.

Baxter finished the final two and two-third innings, allowing the final six CD East runs during that time. Only two of those six were earned and Baxter did rack up six strikeouts against just three walks.

Dupes' only hit of the game gave Middletown back-to-back games with a solo homer but it was Abigail Grimland driving in two runs with two singles that paced the Lady Raider attack. Hayli Akakpo-Martin added an RBI single to help the cause.

Middletown closed out the week on Saturday with a trip to Elliottsburg for a tangle with the Lady Mustangs of West Perry. The Lady Raiders, suiting up five varsity and five junior varsity players total due to various injuries, had as many errors, three, as hits leading to a 10-0, six-inning loss. Hailey Hockenberry, Veronica Miller and Alyse Ulrich, one of the junior varsity players filling in, were responsible for the offense with one hit each.

The Lady Mustangs got to Noelle Zimmerman for single runs in the first four innings before a six run six-run sixth inning secured the loss for the Middletown hurler.

BASEBALL

The baseball team enjoyed a three-peat of their own last week ripping off wins over Trinity, Central Dauphin East and West Perry. Add in their April 12th win over Steel-High and the Blue Raiders are riding a four-game winning streak that has evened their 2018 record to 5-5 overall.

The Blue Raiders had to survive a seventh inning rally by Trinity to secure their 6-5 win over the Shamrocks on April 17th. Avery Williams and Aaron McDevitt provided the pop that busted open a 2-2 tie and provided Middletown with enough cushion to absorb Trinity's three run push in the top of the seventh.

Both Williams and McDevitt collected their only hit of the game during the decisive frame with Williams' base knock pushing two runs across while McDevitt's single to left plated Middletown's first run of the inning. Scott Ash picked up the win for his work finishing off the sixth in relief of starter Adam Kell but it was Blake Jacoby that pitched Middletown out of the seventh inning jam. The trio combined for 12 strikeouts, 10 by Kell, and four walks while surrendering nine hits and five earned runs.

The Blue Raiders needed four pitchers to get through their 16-11, April 20th, win over CD East. Ash picked up his second straight victory after covering the opening three and one third innings. The Panthers were able to score six runs during that time, turning Middletown's 10-0 lead into a 10-6 affair. Garrett Miller covered the last of the fourth, pitching into the fifth before getting into trouble that resulted in four additional Central Dauphin East runs. Jacoby came in to put the Panther fire out but did surrender one final run before his exit. David Alcock tossed a scoreless seventh to close out the victory.

Williams carried the big bat with three of his four hits being the two-base variety. Williams added a first inning single to his three doubles, the final two producing his three RBI for the day. Ash, Jacoby and Tim Wagner all enjoyed multi-hit, multi-RBI games to give Williams ample back-up. Both of Wagner's hits were doubles with his second inning shot to left pushing across two runs. Ash split his two RBI between his first inning single and his fifth inning double while Jacoby picked up both his RBI with a first inning home run.

The Blue Raiders were back in action on day later, posting a 1-0 win over West Perry. Jacoby busted Ash's grip on pitching victories by tossing a complete game shutout to earn the win. The senior righty struck out five while walking just one and scattering six hits on the way to the victory.

West Perry's pitcher, Nolan Olszenski was effective at keeping Middletown at bay thanks to his eight strikeouts and no walks but the Blue Raiders were able to score the game's only run in the bottom of the sixth. Ash led off with a single to left but Olszenski picked up two quick outs to nearly end Middletown's threat. Kell worked the Mustang hurler through eight pitches that included three straight full-count foul balls before getting his pitch to hit. Kell sent that ninth offering down the left field line which allowed Ash to score from second. Jacoby closed out the game with his seventh straight scoreless frame.

TENNIS

The Middletown boy's tennis team remains in catch-up mode despite closing in on the end of their 2018 regular season. The weather-related shuffling left the Blue Raiders with four matches last week including two opposite the Colonial division's second place squad, East Pennsboro. The Panthers claimed both of those matches via 5-0 finals and when combined with the 5-0 loss to Camp Hill, the division's top team, gave the Blue Raiders three losses in four matches. Thankfully Middletown was able to come out on top of their final match last week, topping James Buchanan 4-1 on April 18th.

The Blue Raiders split the two doubles matches with Steven Mosher and Kyle Shatto dropping Jacob Stoner and Jacob Troupe in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in number one doubles. Tommy Lee was the lone player to win his singles match in straight sets, posting wins of 6-0 and 7-5 to dispatch Levi Grove in number two singles. Jacob Spear dropped his first set to Paul Dzieciol in number one singles but bounced back to post wins of 7-6 (7-4) and 6-4 to steal the win. Donovan Brady followed a similar script in the number three singles match opposite Noah Shank, dropping the opening set 6-0 before winning two straight, 6-2 and 6-2, to finish the win for Middletown.

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Track Teams Battle Snow Delays Before Facing WP April 16, 2018

Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. While Newton was not referring to high school sports when he developed his laws of motion, the third law can be stretched to apply to the 2018 spring sports season. The initial 'action' in this case would be rain, snow and cold temperatures wiping out the bulk of what was supposed to be the first two weeks of the season. The 'opposite reaction' would be the rescheduling of all those games throughout the remainder of the season, leaving high school sports' teams with unsarcastically busy schedules. Take for example the Middletown Blue Raiders, both the baseball team and the boy's tennis team wrapped up six game in nine day stretches while the softball team crossed off five games over the same span. The lone club that managed to avoid all of that drama was the track and field team.

Of course, having just one regular season meet a week helps avoid weather related logjams like their sporting brethren are currently trying to overcome. That doesn't mean the Blue Raiders haven't been affected by Mother Nature's shenanigans, their season opening trip to Chambersburg for the Tim Cook Invitational was derailed by snow as was their dual meet opener with Bishop McDevitt a few days later.

With the weather conditions returning to a somewhat normal state, the Blue Raiders were finally able to open their season on April 10th. The result of that dual meet with West Perry left Middletown wishing for more snow with the boy's falling by a 97-53 final and the girls a 106-40 result.

With their first dual meet out of the way, the Blue Raiders set their sights on participating in their first big meet, Northern York's Arctic Blast invitational on April 14th. Conditions were perfect for the meet and Tyrelle Gallatin, Matthew Frehse and Brendan Douglas all took advantage as each of the three came home as double medal winners.

Gallatin nearly came away with the title of "fastest man" after going Gold-Bronze in the 100m and 200m. The senior turned in the top prelim time in the 100m then went about capturing gold with a time of 11.21 in the finals. He came up 0.42 seconds short of the fastest man title, finishing third in the 200m with a time of 23.53.

Frehse also did his work on the track in the 110H and 300H events. Frehse earned a spot in the 110H finals by running the fourth fastest prelim time, a 16.26. Aided by the faster competition in the finals Frehse trimmed nearly three-tenths off his time, taking home bronze with a 15.98. The senior was able to secure another trip to the podium by clocking a 43.10 in the 300H, good enough for sixth place.

Douglas earned his podium trips for his work in the shot and discus. The senior, with a 134-11 in the discus, and a heave of 45-8.5 in the shot put, earned the fourth best throws in each event.

On the girls' side, Middletown was unable to capture any medals. Joci Koser came the closest, falling a mere 0.10 short of sixth place with a 27.83 in the 200m.

BASEBALL

The results for the baseball team's busy stretch were a mixed bag with victories over Steel-High and Susquehanna Township countering losses to East Pennsboro, Northern York, Bishop McDevitt and Camp Hill.

The Blue Raiders opened the stretch on April 5th with a 4-2 loss to East Pennsboro. Middletown ended up being their own worst enemy with three errors leading to two unearned runs. Kell allowed those four runs off of six hits over 5.1 innings, adding three strikeouts and five walks to his effort. Kell also produced one of four Middletown hits on the day, a sixth inning lead-off single leading to the Blue Raiders second run. Matt Schopf provided the base hit that allowed Kell to score while Avery Williams collected Middletown's other RBI single in the fifth. Aaron McDevitt picked up the Raiders' first hit in the fourth.

Bishop McDevitt came to town one day later and left with a 13-0 victory. David Alcock was the first of five Middletown pitchers used to cover the seven innings. The trouble started early as McDevitt scored four runs during Alcock's 1.1 innings. Scott Ash picked up after Alcock's departure and pitched through the fourth inning, surrendering one unearned run. Dom Barilla was up next and managed to get through the fifth after just one Crusader run but trouble returned in the sixth. Two quick McDevitt runs brought and end to Barilla's day. Garrett Miller took over and covered the first two outs of the sixth with one final unearned McDevitt run coming during that time. Owen Haederer ended McDevitt's sixth inning damage at three runs after relieving Miller with two outs and the bases loaded. Haederer saw tougher times in the seventh with another four Crusader runs putting the final at 13-0. The pitching quintet combined for eight strikeouts and 11 walks. Williams provided Middletown's only two hits on the day.

The Blue Raiders picked up win number one on April 9th, 17-13, after surviving Susquehanna Township's late game push. Middletown jumped out to a 13-0 lead after two innings only to see Township plate five in the bottom of the third to start their comeback bid. The Blue Raiders started tacking on insurance runs in the fifth and they proved to be useful after the Indians' eight run sixth inning.

Middletown managed another two insurance runs in the top of the seventh but they were not needed as Kell was able to close things out with a scoreless seventh.

Ash got the start and picked up the win with Miller (two innings) and Tim Wagner (one and two-third innings) bridging the gap between Ash and Kell. Williams, Alcock and Wagner provided the pop at the plate with three RBI each.

Camp Hill provided another setback on the April 10th, winning 6-1 after scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh to break up a 1-1 deadlock. Kell knotted the game with his fifth inning single, one of two on the day. Blake Jacoby allowed all six Lion runs during his 5.2 innings, but only three were earned thanks to one Middletown error. Jacoby had three walks and seven strikeouts during his time on the mound. Alcock needed one pitch to record the final out of the game.

The Blue Raiders fifth loss of the season came on April 11th via an 11-1 final. Northern York used a four run first coupled with a five run fifth to secure the ten-run victory. Ash saw five of the Polar Bear runs score on his four inning watch while Kell witnessed the final six runs. Each pitcher recorded two strikeouts and combined for seven walks over the game's initial 6.1 innings. Schopf closed the door on the Polar Bears with two quick outs but the damage had already been done. Cam Peters produced Middletown's lone run with his second inning single.

Middletown closed out the week on a positive note with a 14-3, five inning win over Steel-High on the 12th. Williams and Peters carried the offense with three RBI apiece while Ash provided strong back-up with his two-hit, two RBI game. Alcock earned the easy win with four innings of work but did allow two of the three Roller runs on six hits to go with six strikeouts and no walks. Haederer and Miller combined to cover the fifth with Haederer on the hook for the final Steel-High run.

SOFTBALL

The softball team came out of their busy stretch with four losses against an April 10th win over Camp Hill. The Lady Raiders used a three-run, seventh inning rally, to slip by the Lady Lions 7-6. Hailey Hockenberry and Jordyn Dupes enjoyed three hit games with Hockenberry driving in two runs on three singles. Dupes' three hits left her a home run shy of the cycle. Kayla Finsterbush and game winner Noelle Zimmerman provided Middletown's two remaining RBI for the game.

Zimmerman earned the win after covering all seven innings with five walks and one strikeout to go with nine hits and five earned runs.

The five games in seven days run ended on April 11th with a 10-0 loss to Northern York. Hayley Baxter tossed all five innings to take the loss, striking out one and walking three in the process. Jordan Roberts enjoyed the lone multi-hit game for Middletown with two singles.

Seven days earlier the Lady Raiders fell to East Pennsboro 15-0 in three innings. Baxter was hit with that loss as well, covering the first 2.1 innings. Zimmerman and Maddie Sweigert recorded one out each to finish things up.

Bishop McDevitt was responsible for a 10-4 loss on April 6th. Zimmerman absorbed the loss for working through five innings while Baxter covered the final inning. Dupes collected half of Middletown's six hits, producing the Lady Raiders' only two RBI for the game. Veronica Miller, Hockenberry and Hayli Akakpo-Martin accounted for the remaining three hits.

The final game of the run was a 19-2 loss to Eastern York on the 9th. Baxter pitched three of the five innings and took the loss after allowing 10 of the 17 runs. Finsterbush and Sweigert were each responsible for pushing across one Middletown run.

TENNIS

The weather reshuffling not only caused the Blue Raider tennis team to play six matches in nine days, it also produced the oddity of back-to-back matches against the same opponent two different times in the same week. Unfortunately for Middletown the April 11th and April 12th matches opposite Bishop McDevitt ended in 5-0 losses and combined with a 5-0 loss to Camp Hill on the 13th for a less than desirable ending to their week. The stretch opened with another 5-0 loss, this one to Susquehanna Township on April 5th.

The Blue Raiders also faced Harrisburg Academy in back-to-back action and produced a 5-0 victory as well as a 4-1 win. The 5-0 sweep went down on the 9th with Jacob Spear, Donovan Brady and Zeryab Ibrahim handling singles duty. Zac Purvis and Levi Ettu picked up one doubles victory while Danny Mercado and Justin Wright earned the other.

One day later Spear and Ibrahim were able to duplicate their singles success to account for two of Middletown's four wins. Purvis teamed up with Kyle Shatto for one of two doubles victories while Wright and Matt Spangler earned the second.

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Blue Raider Hoopsters, Matmen Compete in State March 19, 2018

The real fun begins now for the Middletown boys' basketball team. The Blue Raiders kicked off their PIAA redemption tour on Friday, March 9th with a 66-57 victory over District 4's champion, Montoursville. The PIAA-4A opening round affair took place at Shikellamy High School in Sunbury and marked Middletown's first step to surpassing last's year's PIAA quarterfinal loss to Quaker Valley.

The nine-point victory ended up being more difficult than many expected with head coach Chris Sattele citing his squad's nine day lay-off as the reason.

"I was proud of our kids because they really responded well and then we were able to get this match up and we felt we could play with District 4 teams," said Sattele.

The result of the layoff was a sloppy first half where Middletown managed just 28 total points. Despite the scoring trouble, the Blue Raiders still managed to take a two-point cushion into the break. The two sides traded buckets and miscues throughout the opening 16 minutes, combining for 15 turnovers, seven ties and eight lead changes. Neither team was able to gain more than a four-point edge but the Blue Raiders were able to enjoy that two-point halftime cushion thanks to the work of Ryan Hughes and Tre Leach. The pair tallied eight points over the final two minutes to help keep the Warriors at bay.

As the third quarter unfolded, Montoursville scored eight of the frame's first 10 points, swinging momentum and the score in their favor. Despite the opening surge by the Warriors, Middletown did not wilt, keeping the game close despite being outscored in the quarter. The 21-16 edge in the frame allowed Montoursville to take a slim 47-44 lead into the final eight minutes but the battle tested Blue Raiders responded by taking over the game in those eight minutes.

It actually only took Middletown about a minute to pull away but the Blue Raiders first had to fight though the first five plus minutes of the final stanza. During that time the Warriors did just enough to hang around making it a 54-53 game with 2:50 remaining. Tre Leach, who finished with 19 points, kicked off the decisive 9-0 run by making both ends of a one and one while Brady Fox scored his only point of the contest to cap the spurt and make it a 63-53 game with 75 seconds remaining. A couple of free throws from Chris Plummer (six points) and Hughes accounted for the final Middletown points.

"The intensity picked up in the second half. Both teams were fighting for their lives, its state playoffs," said Hughes, who scored 12 of his game high 33 points in the decisive fourth quarter. "We were preaching next play, next play in the locker room at half time and I think that is what motivated us never to put our heads down, just kept working."

Sattele echoed his star's thoughts about the halftime talk. "Their zone gave us some trouble but we found a way to make some adjustments at halftime and get Ryan the ball inside the post and I thought they did a nice job of that." Sattele was quick to credit one of his assistants (Coach Klinefelter) with spearheading the adjustments but added, "It was really a good combination of all our coaches kind of talking about it."

Up next for the now 18-7 Blue Raiders is a PIAA-4A second round affair opposite District 12's third place squad, Overbrook, at Garden Spot High School in New Holland, Tuesday at 6 pm.

WRESTLING

The boy's hoopsters were not the only Blue Raiders in PIAA action last week. Luke Fegley and Ryan Berstler took their talents to Hershey's Giant Center for the 2017-2018 PIAA Championship. The pair competed in the 2A field, going a combined 1-4 to find their weekend and season over earlier than they preferred.

Fegley was responsible for the lone victory, pinning Smethport's Bryent Johnson a mere 10 seconds before the final horn of their preliminary round match. Fegley would have picked up the win regardless, racking up a 10-3 edge before finally putting Johnson's shoulders to the mat. The Middletown sophomore found himself on the opposite side of things in his first-round match-up. Fegley was bounced from the championship bracket thanks to a 12-3 major decision loss to Troy's Sheldon Seymour. Fegley was unable to overcome a combination of a few early takedowns and escapes from Seymour with the Troy sophomore ending the match with back-to-back third period nearfalls.

Fegley saw his season come to a close with a 1-0 loss to Brandywine Height's Bailey Gimbor. The Bullet freshman scored the only point of the match on an escape with 55 seconds remaining in regulation. The loss put Fegley's season ending record at 34-12.

Berstler was unable to find a way into the winner's column, dropping both his matches to end his 2017-2018 season with a 35-11 mark. The junior opened his time in Hershey with a 13-2 major decision loss to Bryan Daubert of Forest Hills. The Ranger jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Berstler thanks to first period combination takedown and nearfall. Another takedown late in the second period countered Berstler's escape making it 7-1 with just two minutes remaining. Daubert continued his onslaught in the final frame, working an escape into another takedown-nearfall combo for his final six points. Berstler picked up one final point on another escape late in the period, setting the final at 13-2.

Berstler's season came to a close with a 4-2 loss to Hughesville's Luke Gorg. The Hughesville sophomore used a first period takedown to pick-up the bout's first points. Berstler was able to counter with his own takedown but the second period points only countered Gorg's two escapes in the frame. The pair battled through a scoreless third period to leave the final at 4-2.

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Blue Raiders Cap Season in PIAA Second Round March 18, 2018

The Blue Raider boys' basketball team saw their magical two season run come to a close last Friday, March 16th. The culprit, a 79-60 loss to the defending 4A champ, Imhotep Charter. The quarterfinal defeat ends Middletown's current postseason run in the same round where last year's 22-6 squad saw their season come to a close. The difference this year being the location, Reading's Geigle Complex versus last year's Altoona's High School Fieldhouse and the opponent, Quaker Valley versus the Panthers of Imhotep.

"It's a roller coaster of emotions," said head coach Chris Sattele of the loss that ended his squad's campaign with a 19-8 mark. "It was a lot to handle, it was tough, end of the season, and these guys are going on their ways and won't be a part of this anymore."

For the Blue Raiders the battle was lost in the opening frame where Imhotep charged out to a 22-7 lead leaving Middletown searching for answers. "The first four or five minutes, I think, was one of those things. We're playing at the Geigle, we're playing against a nationally ranked team, we're playing against division one players' and then they settled in and realized this is basketball," was Sattele's explanation of his team's 8-0 deficit after just three minutes. While the Panthers continued to expand their lead Tre Leach made sure Middletown erased the zero on their side of the scoreboard.

The senior guard proceeded to score all seven of Middletown's first quarter points, on his way to 16 for the game, starting with a pull-up jumper with just under four minutes remaining in the half. Unfortunately, while Leach was doing what he could, including a three-ball that pushed him over the 900-career point mark, Imhotep was still doing their thing which led to that 22-7 deficit.

As Sattele mentioned, his charges settled down after the opening frame. The result was a 16-11 advantage in the second stanza that shrank the Panther lead to 10, 33-23, when Tyler Petroski nailed a corner three just before the halftime buzzer. Ryan Hughes and Kyle Truesdale led the second quarter charge with the pair each scoring their first five points of the contest.

Middletown came out of the break intent to continue their march toward Imhotep. Truesdale stepped up to lead that charge scoring back-to-back buckets within the first 60 seconds of the third. The quick points trimmed the Blue Raider deficit to six but the Panthers came right back with a 7-0 run of their own to stretch the lead back to 13, at 40-27.

The Blue Raiders continued to claw behind the long-distance shooting of Tymir Jackson. The freshman sandwiched his two made three-pointers around a pair of Imhotep free throws and a long-range bomb from Petroski to shrink the margin down to five points with just under three minutes remaining in the frame. Imhotep would not allow the Blue Raiders to get any closer despite the best efforts of Hughes. Hughes, who scored four of Middletown's final five points of the quarter, only managed to keep the deficit in single digits heading into the final frame.

The senior guard continued his attempt to carry his squad into the lead, scoring the final 10 of his team high 19 in the fourth but it was not enough as Imhotep was able to salt the game away from the free throw line. The Panthers connected on 13 of their 17 fourth quarter freebies and 31 of 40 for the game, enabling them to slowly stretch the advantage to the 19-point final.

"I'm super proud of our kids," said Sattele. "I mean that is a nationally ranked team, they are very well coached and those kids played their tails off, it was sort of like playing a college team."

Middletown earned their quarterfinal spot opposite Imhotep with a 47-45 victory over Overbrook a few days prior.

The two clubs squared off in New Holland at Garden Spot High School and Middletown needed another dose of Hughes heroics to seal the victory. Hughes, who last year sent Middletown into the District 3-4A title game via a last second catch and release buzzer beater off a full court heave assist on the same court, came through in the final seconds again to give his Blue Raiders the win.

Hughes heroics were needed because the Blue Raiders found themselves in a deadlocked affair as the final seconds ticked away. That is when Hughes picked off a cross-court pass, took off for the hoop and converted a layup while getting fouled, providing the game winning points with six seconds remaining. Hughes did miss the and-1 free throw but redeemed himself by snagging the offensive rebound then finding Leach before falling out of bounds. Leach was promptly fouled by Overbrook sending him to the line with a chance to ice the game. The senior saw both attempts roll out but the additional time taken off the clock left Overbrook with only a last second full-court desperation heave that was off the mark.

"Hustle plays always help us out, its what we do, it's what we are based off of," said Hughes of his game winning steal and layup with Sattele adding, "Par for the course when you're here at Garden Spot, seems like Ryan is always here in the stretch."

Of course, those last second Hughes heroics took place because Overbrook mounted a fourth quarter comeback that erased what had been a 10-point Middletown lead. The Blue Raiders enjoyed that double digit cushion for nearly a minute early in the fourth before the Panthers began chipping away. Leach gave Middletown their second 10-point lead of the game with a bucket just 30-seconds into the frame.

Overbrook's Khalif Washington spent the next few minutes leading the charge to erase that gap. He started with a personal 6-1 run over a two-plus minute stretch that trimmed Middletown's lead from 37-27 to 38-33. A single Hughes free throw put a temporary hold on Washington's march and made it 39-33 with 4:38 remaining. A Raquon West (13 points) free throw proved to be the only Panther point not scored by Washington during an 11-2 Overbrook run that made it a one-point affair with 3:32 left on the clock.

After two Chris Plummer (10 points) free throws made it 41-38, West answered with an old fashioned three-point play to tie the game for the first time since the second quarter. The two sides exchanged free throws over the next two minutes with Petroski's single make knotting the score at 45-45 with 45.08 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Hughes' heroics.

"Credit to our kids. We had a double-digit lead going in there and they could have crumbled, they didn't," said Sattele. "They overcame that adversity and that embodies what Middletown is, the grit we have with our student athletes, they are unbelievable."

A similar pattern played out over the opening half with Middletown jumping out to an 8-0 lead just three minutes into the game. As a preview for the fourth quarter theatrics, the Panthers mounted a comeback march over the next three minutes that put the two sides in the first of four deadlocks, this one at 10-10.

As they did at the end of the game, the Blue Raiders were able to reestablish enough control to maintain a slim lead, this one leading to a 24-21 lead at the break. Middletown was able to stretch that slim three-point cushion to eight as the third quarter unfolded thanks to Leach who scored six of his 14 points in the frame.

Hughes finished the win with a game high 16 points while Petroski (three points), Truesdale (two points) and David Alcock (two points) provided the final Blue Raider points.

"One thing we always talk about is 'next play, next play, next play', we can't worry about the past and our kids' kind of did that tonight," Sattele summarized.

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Raiders Grab Bronze in District Championships March 5, 2018

It was not the color or type of metal the 2017-2018 edition of the Middletown boy's basketball team was hoping to collect when the District 3-4A Championship kicked off two weeks ago. But the Blue Raiders will happily take the bronze medal that came with their 66-56 victory over Kennard-Dale at West York on February 28th.

After dropping last year's championship game in overtime to Lancaster Catholic the Blue Raiders were looking to take home gold this year but a 51-33 semifinal loss to Berks Catholic derailed those aspirations. Instead Middletown was left to take their frustration out on Kennard-Dale which they did to the tune of a 35-18 blitz though the opening half. Ryan Hughes led that first half charge, scoring 15 of his game high 25 points to help push Middletown to a 17-point lead at intermission.

After holding KD to just 18 first half points, the Rams broke out in the third thanks to Adam Freese. The senior scored nine of his team high 23 in the frame helping Kennard-Dale to an 18-15 edge that shrank Middletown's lead to 14. The Rams continued their push in the final stanza, outscoring the Blue Raiders 20-16, but Middletown was able to hold off the KD surge thanks to their large first half cushion coupled with their work from the free throw line. The Blue Raiders were a pedestrian 29 of 52 from the stripe for the game but made the freebies when it mattered, drilling 14 of 16 in the fourth to salt the game away.

Tre Leach was the only other Blue Raider to join Hughes in double digits, finishing with 11 points, including a five of eight day from the line. Tyler Petroski chipped in with seven points while Brady Fox, David Alcock and Chris Plummer netted six points apiece. Kyle Truesdale picked up the final five Middletown points.

Two days prior, Middletown was unable to post their second straight district victory over Berks Catholic. The Blue Raiders won last year's District 3-4A semifinal match-up but this year's clash went to the Saints by a 51-33 count. Middletown was unable to get their offense flowing, failing to hit double digits in three of the four frames leading to the 18-point loss.

The scoring woes began in the opening quarter where Berks Catholic held Middletown to just eight points. Meanwhile, the Saints, behind Tre Dabney's six points, were able to tally 15, making it 15-8 after eight minutes. Middletown did enjoy a scoring edge in the second quarter, using a 13-8 spurt to nearly erase the Berks Catholic lead heading into the break.

The Saints regained momentum in the third which resulted in a 12-6 run that stretched the lead to eight points with only one quarter remaining. That lead more than doubled as the fourth unfolded with Middletown posting another six-point frame while Berks Catholic netted 16 points. The result was the 51-33 final and Middletown's crushed district title hopes.

Hughes tallied a team high 11 in the loss while Truesdale (nine points), Leach (eight points) and Plummer (five points) were the only other Blue Raiders to score.

WRESTLING

A few members of the Middletown wrestling team spent Friday March 2nd and Saturday March 3rd at Wilson High School, working to extend their season for one more week. The Blue Raiders were in West Lawn to take part in the PIAA-2A SE Regional Championship where the top six place winners earn a trip to Hershey for a spot in this weekend's PIAA-2A Championships. Five different Blue Raiders made the trek to the Reading area with two, Luke Fegley and Ryan Berstler, performing well enough to earn the coveted PIAA berth.

Fegley earned his state bid in the 106-bracket where he placed fifth with an 8-2 win over Annville-Cleona's Matthew Inman. It was Fegley's second victory over the Little Dutchman at the regional event, topping the fellow sophomore in the championship quarterfinal via a 9-1 count. In between the two victories over Inman, Fegley stumbled with losses to Trinity's Patrick Demark and Williams Valley's Mikey Myers. Fegley opened the event with a first round win over Saadiq Williams of Belmont Charter.

Berstler forged a different path to his fifth-place finish, going 4-2 to improve to 35-9 on the season. He opened the action by pinning Conwell Egan's Gianni Scancella but dropped out of gold medal contention with a 6-3 semifinal loss to Notre Dame-Greenpond's Richie Markulics. Berstler began his consolation march with an 11-0 major decision win over Catasauqua's Tyler Melendez and followed with a 3-1 victory over Susquehanna Township's Kody Evans. The junior's shot at bronze ended in the consolation semifinals with a 5-3 loss to Wilson's Marckis Branford. Berstler was able to bounce back, topping Biglerville's Josh Tuckey by a 3-2 count to earn fifth place at 120 pounds.

Nate Brady was unable to sustain momentum in his quest for gold at 126 pounds, going 2-2 after bowing out with a 7-3 loss to Newport's Isaiah Bryner in the consolation quarterfinals. Brady opened the tournament by pinning Lynn Anthony of Bristol midway through the second period but was unable to continue the winning in his quarterfinal match opposite Pen Argyl's Nick Reto. A 5-2 loss to Reto dropped Brady into the consolation bracket where he managed a 9-2 win over Northwestern's Harrison Bernhard, setting up that final bout with Newport's Bryner.

Zach Maley was the first of two different Blue Raiders to post a 1-2 mark. Malay began his quest for gold at 113 with a 5-2 win over Faith Christian's Andrew Park but suffered back-to-back losses to end his season with a 22-15 mark. Brandywine Heights' Dalton Gimbor and Bermudian Spring's Korey Smith handed Malay his season ending losses.

Devin Martin followed the same path during his time in the 145-pound bracket. The senior opened with an 8-7 victory over Thomas Spirk but saw his championship hopes dashed in the quarterfinals. Boiling Springs' Kollin Myers was the victor in that quarterfinal tilt, topping Martin by an 8-1 count. Max Schultz of Faith Christian handed Martin his second loss of the weekend by a 3-1 count, leaving Martin with a season ending 24-13 record.

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Middletown Boys Win District Opener February 23, 2018

Last Thursday night the Middletown boys got their District Three Class 4A playoffs off to a good start with a convincing, 72-55, victory over visiting Boiling Springs (12-10).

The Raiders finished a tough, competitive first half down by three, 37-34, to the Bubblers, but came out after the break and went on a 19-6 run through the third quarter to take control of the game.

A 19-12 fourth quarter locked down the 17-point win for the Raiders and sent them into the semifinals where they meet Berks Catholic, a 52-34 quarterfinal winner over Northern Lebanon, at Penn Manor on Monday, February 26.

Ryan Hughes led the way for the Raiders, hitting 10 field goals, four of them three-pointers, and a pair of free throws to finish with a game-high 26 points.

Tre Leach (18), Chris Plummer (12) and Kyle Truesdale (10) also contributed double-digit scoring to the Raiders' victory, while Tyler Petroski, Brady Fox and David Alcock all chipped in a pair of points to round out Middletown's scoring.

The win lifts the Raiders' season record to 16-6 going into their semifinal clash with Berks Catholic, who brings a 13-9 slate to the contest.

A high school game of basketball is always four quarters or 32 minutes. That proved to be too much for the Middletown girls' basketball team to handle in their District 3-3A opener last Tuesday evening. The result of that quarterfinal tilt opposite York Catholic was a 64-48 loss in game that Middletown led at intermission.

The halftime lead was small, 27-25, but it was a lead none the less. Things went sideways for the Lady Raiders in the third frame with York Catholic ripping off a 21-11 run.

"I thought we were playing well. Their home crowd got excited when they went up a couple on us and it just snowball a little bit and we couldn't get back after that," said head coach Ron Stetler.

The Lady Shamrocks tacked on an 18-10 edge in the final frame, leading to the loss. "It was a 16-point loss but it was closer than that," Statler said.

Middletown had just four players score led by Kate Fitzpatrick's 25 points. The super sophomore added six rebounds, three assists and five steals to her game tally. Makaila Nester finished her senior season with a 15 point, four rebound, two assist effort, leaving her with 730 points in her Middletown career. "Makaila's value to the team the last couple years has been overshadowed because she's always been second or third fiddle," said Stetler, citing the parade of 1000 point scores in front of Nester. "She kind of silently has had a stellar career."

With the district loss the Lady Raiders finish their 2017-2018 campaign with a 9-14 record, "For the most part I'm happy with the season and how we played. Sometimes we played down to the level of our competition and sometimes we played up," said Stetler, "but I think we hung in there with some good teams this year."

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Middletown Advances Seven Matmen to Districts February 19, 2018

There are two prevailing thoughts on extended layoffs heading into the postseason. On one side, it provides the opportunity to rest and recover from the long, grueling regular season. On the other side, it opens the door for rust or subpar performances from the layoff.

Count the Middletown wrestling team among the former as seven of the 13 grapplers that participated in last Saturday's District 3-2A Sectional at Central Dauphin East High School advanced to this weekend's district championship in Hershey.

Of those seven only one, Ryan Berstler, managed to take the top spot in his weight class. Berstler knocked off Northern Lebanon's Dustin Varvel and Susquehanna Township's Kody Evans to capture the 120-pound gold and punch his ticket to Hershey.

Luke Fegley was the first of four silver medal winners, picking up his hardware in the 106-pound bracket. Fegley kicked off his day by pinning Austin Mahoney of Boiling Springs before falling to Northern Lebanon's Brandon Breidegan in the finals.

Jacob Spear was the next Blue Raider to finish his weekend with a silver medal around his neck. The sophomore topped Northern Lebanon's Kick Winters by an 8-7 count before falling to Lucas Shoop of Boiling Springs in the championship match.

Devin Martin gave the Blue Raiders back-to-back silver medalist with his work in the 145-pound bracket. Martin posted an 8-4 win over Annville-Cleona's Zachery Renninger to earn his title shot but ended up on the wrong side of an 11-4 final in that title match. That left Martin with the silver while another Bulldog from Boiling Springs claimed gold.

Middletown's final silver medal went to Quincy Reinnagel for his work at 220. Reinnagel, another second-year grappler, opened by pinning Northern Lebanon's Cole Messimer in the second period of their bout. That set up another Blue Raider-Bulldog final with Boiling Springs' Austin Taylor taking the 220-pound title and leaving Reinnagel with the silver.

Zach Malay picked up the first of two Middletown bronze medals, doing his work at 113 pounds. Malay began his day on the wrong side of an 11-5 final, falling to Boiling Springs' Andrew Stafford in their semifinal match-up. With his back against the wall, Malay went to work, knocking off Lancaster Catholic's Ethan Jones and Annville-Cleona's Gavin Knox to claim third place and the final ticket to Hershey. Malay earned both victories via pinfall, needing a total of 2:31 to dispatch both opponents.

Middletown's final district berth went to Nate Brady who also started his district quest on the wrong foot. The junior dropped his opening match to Collin Nester of Boiling Springs by a 4-3 count, leaving no room for error the rest of the way. Brady was up to the challenge, pinning Lancaster Catholic's Evan Hart early in the second period before topping Annville-Cleona's Noah Safford by a 9-2 final in the consolation finals.

Two other Blue Raiders fell into the near-miss category for their efforts at CD East. Zach Souders and Damion Williams both overcame losses in the championship bracket to battle back into the consolation finals only to fall short. Souders saw his season end with a pinfall loss to Boiling Springs' Zach Martin in a battle for the 160-pound bronze. Williams also fell to a Bulldog, his match with Sam Geiling ending nine seconds later than Souders' match with Martin.

Souders may have ended his weekend with a loss but he opened it with a win, pinning Lancaster Catholic's Ryan Kemmerly just before the final horn of their quarterfinal tilt. A loss to Blaise Bressler of Northern Lebanon, the eventual champion at 160, dropped Souders into the consolation bracket where he rebounded with a win over Annville-Cleona's Daniel Tobias.

Williams' consolation loss to Geiling was not his first of the day to the Boiling Springs junior. Geiling ended Williams' title hopes in the quarterfinals with a 15-4 major decision. In between the two losses to Geiling, Williams managed to pin Annville-Cleona's Ben Barnhart, doing so just before the end of the second period.

The remaining four Blue Raiders that participated in the sectional round saw their season end in the consolation semifinals. Kenny Britcher dropped that consy match to Northern Lebanon's Michael Marlowe by a 14-3 count. Britcher's other loss on the day came opposite Susquehanna Township's Steven Graves in the quarterfinals. Britcher did post one win, taking out Steel-High's Timmy Jackson by a 6-2 count in the pair's consolation tangle.

Arthur Dash followed the same path as Britcher, falling to Boiling Springs' Nick Kostyak by a 15-0 final in the quarterfinals and to Evan Heilman of Annville-Cleona in the consolation semifinals. Dash's victory in between the two losses came when he pinned Steel-High's William James.

Middletown's final two sectional round entries were unable to find the win column, bowing out with back-to-back losses. Chris Joseph had his stumble take place in the 152-pound bracket where losses to Columbia's Marcus Falcon and Annville-Cleona's Tyler Speraw ended the sophomore's season. A pair of tech fall losses in the 182-pound bracket ended Marcus Williams's season. Lancaster Catholic's Alex Cruz handed out the first while Annville-Cleona's Caleb Turner handed out the second.

With over half of Middletown's participants advancing, the Blue Raiders managed a third-place finish in the team standings, nipping Susquehanna Township but falling short of Northern Lebanon and team champion Boiling Springs.

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