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BY JEFF FALK

ANNVILLE – Up is down. In is out. Hot is cold.

Welcome to high school baseball, where the only consistencies are the inconsistences, and where youth giveth and youth taketh away.

On a cloudy Saturday afternoon at Annville-Cleona High School, the Little Dutchmen experienced all the highs and lows that the game of baseball has to offer, during a 12-10 non-league loss to Middletown. After they had made a valiant comeback all the way back from an early 5-0 deficit, the Little Dutchmen threw away – both figuratively and literally – their short-lived lead during a nightmarish top of the seventh inning.

Middletown tallied the decisive run during its six-run, top-of-the-seventh rally, when they took a 12-7 lead. All of those Blue Raider runs were unearned, as Annville-Cleona was guilty of five errors and three wild pitches during the frame.

To their credit, the Little Dutchmen didn’t quit. Annville-Cleona scored three times in the bottom of the seventh inning, thanks in part to Corey Swingholm’s RBI-single and a Blue Raider error. The contest ended with the bases full of Little Dutchmen, and the potential tying run at second base.

Over the last two-and-a-half innings of action, the two sides combined for a total of 14 runs.

“What I remember about the top of the seventh inning was errors,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Mike Miller. “And giving outs away. You can’t give a team six outs. You’ve got to make plays. Mental errors led to physical errors. When a run-down starts, instead of getting the ball out easy and making a good throw, they tried to make a spectacular play, and slipped and fell.

“We’ve been almost stellar defensively over the last three games,” added Miller. “We’ve been fielding well. We just had some lapses today.”

With the result, Annville-Cleona slipped to 3-3 on the spring. Middletown improved to 1-4 with its initial triumph of the campaign.

“You can’t be too high and you can’t be too low,” said Miller. “In the first inning, we got down on ourselves. They let us hang around, we came back, we got the lead and we got too excited. That’s baseball. You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low.

“A win would’ve been another thing to build off,” continued Miller. “We’re a work in progress. It seems like we have kids coming and going, and different kids in the lineup every night. As soon as you think there’s going to be some consistency, then they pull the rug out from under you.”

For as much as the top of the seventh was an inconsistent nightmare for the Little Dutchmen, the bottom of the sixth was a fundamental dream come true.

Facing a two-run deficit, Annville-Cleona rallied for three runs to take a 7-6 lead. While a walk to Jake Mills and a single by Swingholm started it all, it was back-to-back sacrifice bunts – first a suicide squeeze from Alex Lingle and then a safety squeeze from Kenny Schaeffer – that really keyed the rally.

“The bottom of the sixth was awesome,” said Miller. “It’s (sacrifice bunting) something we’ve been working on. We’re not hitting home runs, so we’ve been working on bunting and situational baseball.”

The first five Blue Raiders to come to the plate in the top of the first inning reached base, and all five scored. Annville-Cleona got one of those runs back in the bottom of the second inning on Gavin Keller’s RBI-grounder.

“The grass was soaked, but we took warm-ups,” said Miller. “We should’ve been ready. We just didn’t make the plays.”

After Middletown added on in the top of the fourth inning, the Little Dutchmen pulled to within 6-2 of the lead in the home half of the frame. Lingle was hit by a pitch and stole a base, before Keller produced another run-scoring ground ball.

Annville-Cleona made it a 6-4 game in the bottom of the fifth. Schaeffer’s RBI-single scored Anspach, who had walked, while Lingle, who had doubled, scored on a wild pitch.

“We’re average, with the potential to be better,” said Miller. “In the three games we played this week, we got really good pitching. But when you play four games in five days, it wears your pitching staff down. We weren’t able to make some of the moves we would’ve liked today. But you can’t beat yourself up over it. You’ve just got to to on.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2021 Annville-Cleona Baseball Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
3/16
4:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Muhlenberg

Nonleague
3/26
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lebanon
Postponed
Nonleague
3/27
11:00 am
Oley Valley
at Annville-Cleona
8
0

Nonleague
4/05
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lancaster Mennonite
20
1

League
4/09
4:15 pm
Columbia
at Annville-Cleona
2
8

League
4/10
11:00 am
Middletown
at Annville-Cleona

Nonleague
4/12
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lancaster Catholic

League
4/14
4:15 pm
Donegal
at Annville-Cleona

League
4/16
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Cocalico

League
4/17
11:00 am
Annville-Cleona
at Antietam

Nonleague
4/19
4:15 pm
Garden Spot
at Annville-Cleona

League
4/23
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona

League
4/28
4:15 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Annville-Cleona

League
5/03
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Columbia

League
5/05
4:15 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Annville-Cleona

League
5/10
4:15 pm
Fleetwood
at Annville-Cleona

Nonleague

Lancaster-Lebanon League

Section Four Standings

LeagueOverall
WLPCTWLPCTRSRA
Lancaster Catholic301.000401.000562
Annville-Cleona201.000210.6672810
Pequea Valley110.500210.6672422
Lancaster Mennonite030.000140.2002520
Columbia020.000140.2002325

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