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Hughesville beats Warrior Run in baseball at Bodine Park, 15-7.

HUGHESVILLE-On a night Hugehsville honored its seven baseball graduates, both the recent past and future perfectly blended together.

All seven graduates who missed their senior seasons last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic reached base and several young players made big impacts as well Thursday at Bodine Park as Hughesville defeated Warrior Run, 15-7.

Hughesville improved to 4-0 in the four-team summer league which also includes Central Mountain and Loyalsock, belting out 14 hits and scoring nine third-inning runs to turn a one-run deficit into an eight-run advantage.

“It’s just a great feeling knowing the younger guys can get some time on the field before next year,” senior third baseman Brock Stroup said after going 2 for 2 with a double, RBI sand two runs. “All the seniors are happy with the younger guys showing up and listening to us. Overall, they’re awesome.”

Hughesville has played pretty awesome so far and built off the momentum it generated with a thrilling 3-2 victory over second-place Central Mountain last Monday. Nearly every player coach Chris Kish used reached base and production came not only throughout the lineup, but also off the bench. The defense also played an error-less game.

Stroup and fellow senior Jacob Corson (2 for 2, 2 RBIs) went a combined 4 for 4 and senior Chance Webb was 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run. The underclassmen delivered, too, with Carter Cowburn smashing a home run, hitting a double and driving in five runs. Devin Swank added a two-run double.

“You see shades of what could have been, but I’m glad I at least get to see them. Some programs don’t and our guys were committed to getting this done so we’ve had those shades,” Kish said. “It’s been the best release for us as coaches and for the community.”

“I have high hopes for all the freshmen and sophomores and upcoming freshmen. I have high hopes for all of them,” Stroup said. “They’re going to be the ones to keep things going and follow in our footsteps and hopefully get that district title that we didn’t get.”

Hughesville will never know whether it would have attained that district championship goal last spring. The Spartans appeared loaded, especially with pitching, and were a run from beating District 4 Class AAA finalist Central Columbia on their home field in the 2019 district quarterfinals. Hughesville also defeated Class AAAA state champion Selinsgrove late in the regular season.

The 2020 season was the one Hughesville had been building toward, but it was taken away before it ever took the field. Hughesville cannot get that season back, but it still can show what might have been and that is what it has done throughout these first four games.

What happened hurt bad, but Hughesville can still make something special out of 2020 and that is its focus.

“Our only goal was to get that district title and then we had plans to go ahead and get more after that, but you don’t always get what you want so we’re just thankful to be out here,” Stroup said. “This is probably the best thing that I’ve ever done in the summer. It’s good to be back on the diamond with everyone. It’s always a grind and this is probably the best feeling ever, especially after getting the W.”

Hughesville retired the jersey No. 20 in pregame ceremonies as a tribute to the class of 2020. The No. 20 also will be placed on the left-field wall sometime in the near future. But while the graduates again made an impact last night, it was a player who missed out on his freshman season who dramatically changed the game’s complexion.

Cowburn smashed a two-run, first-inning double deep into center field, giving Hughesville a 2-0 lead. When he batted again in the third inning, Hughesville trailed 3-2. Cowburn one-upped himself this time, turning on a 1-2 pitch and driving down the left-field line for a 3-run home run which put Hughesville ahead to stay. Hughesville scored six more runs that inning with Swank and Corson capping the surge with their two-run hits.

“He’s ultra-talented. He is raw, but he works incredibly hard. For years to come he’s going to be a guy people are going to know about,” Kish said. “But with that there is a lot of pressure. As he starts to come into his own and becomes more comfortable doing the things we ask him to do in terms of playing baseball he’s going to get better and better.”

Warrior Run kept fighting back and produced nine hits. Swank, however, worked out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the second inning. After Warrior Run scored two third-inning runs, Corson repeated that achievement, coming into pitch and striking out consecutive hitters to leave the bases loaded.

Ethan Litchard went 2 for 3 with a double, RBI and run. Mason Sheesley also was 2 for 3 with an RBI double and Michael Buck missed hitting a 2-run sixth-inning home run by just a few feet. Kade Anzulavich also went 1 for 2 with an RBI, two walks and two runs.

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