BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – The Lebanon baseball team continues to concern itself with the process. Annville-Cleona, on the other hand, is a little more focused on goals and the destination.
Those varying approaches collided yesterday, and they may have played a decisive role in the result.
On Tuesday afternoon at Annville-Cleona High School, the postseason-minded Little Dutchmen out slugged the rebuilding Cedars 10-8 in an offensive display that also served as a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three-Four crossover tilt. In addition to the 18 runs, the two sides combined for 19 hits, ten free passes and four errors.
The Little Dutchmen and Cedars plated runs in nine of the contest’s 13 at-bats, including the bottom of the fourth when the Little Dutchmen scored five times to snap a four-all deadlock.
With the win, Annville-Cleona improved to 6-2 overall and 5-2 in Section Four, and kept the Little Dutchmen on the heels of section-leading Lancaster Catholic. With the loss, the improving Cedars slipped to 2-7 on the campaign and 1-6 in Section Three of the L-L.
“We’re pleased where we are, but not satisfied,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Scott Shyda, who piloted ‘The Dutch’ to the 2014 Section Four championship. “We’re not content. We need to stop hurting ourselves. We need to put all the phases of the game together. But I believe we have the talent to be successful.
“If I had to choose one goal, I’d want to make districts,” continued Shyda. “But we’d certainly love to defend that title. I think the kids’ goals are the same as mine. But yeah, we’d like to win the section.”
“I think things are going well,” said Mike Toomey, Lebanon High’s first-year head coach. “We’re definitely moving in the right direction. We’re competitive in every game. But we’ve got to work on slowing down. Sometimes, when the game speeds up for us, we have trouble making decisions. When that happens, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
The Little Dutchmen’s decisive fourth-inning rally was as much about hitting in the clutch as anything.
The meat of the Annville-Cleona order – two-hole hitter Noah Connor, third-place batter Hunter Long, clean-up hitter Colton Long and number-five batter Mitch Long – stroked consecutive two-out, run-producing hits. The rally was started by walks to Nick Hughes and Jordan Gohn, while the fifth A-C run scored on a Cedar throwing error.
“Now that the game is over, we needed all five of those runs,” said Shyda. “In retrospect, it was huge. But it wasn’t like, ‘we got those five runs and the game is over’. They (the Cedars) made it close at the end, too close for comfort. We were short on pitching a little bit tonight.
“I thought we were on our game, offensively,” added Shyda. “That’s not our problem. Our defense has been sketchy, and we haven’t done well on the mound. The middle part of our lineup has been producing.”
“Whenever you get down that many runs that quickly, you have no choice but to regroup quickly,” said Toomey. “Our message when we came in was: ‘stay within ourselves, stay even-keeled’. I think it allowed us to take a great approach for battling back in this game.
“They’re (the Little Dutchmen) a great team,” Toomey added. “They’ve got a lot of great players on the field. They hit the ball. No matter who they face, they’re going to hit the ball to all parts of the field. Their coach does a great job of preparing them and putting them in position to win every game.”
Undeterred, the Cedars made it a 9-6 game in the top half of the fifth inning. Jorge Garcia drove home teammate Logan Blouch, who had led off with a double, and Camryn Shaak plated the other with a sacrifice fly.
Then after the Little Dutchmen had scored its tenth run on a Tyler Schrader RBI, Lebanon High tallied two more, and threatened further, in the top of the seventh. William Scaturro drilled a two-out, two-run single for the Cedars, and Lebanon High got the potential tying run to the plate before being retired.
“I don’t think we were at our best tonight,” said Shyda. “Our guys hung in there and finished. We’re waiting for all the phases of the game to come together. I don’t think we’ve seen us at our best yet. But we’ve been hitting lately.
“They (the Cedars) were on the fast ball all night,” Shyda continued. “I did not expect them to hit like they did.”
“We battled. We kept fighting,” said Toomey. “We just made too many physical errors. We threw the ball around and gave a good team too many chances to score. But we stayed in it, no matter what happened.
“We talk to our guys about breaking up the plate into sections,” continued Toomey. “It’s important to do that early in the count. I think that allows our hitters to be more comfortable at the plate. It allows us to have good at-bats.”
Lebanon reached Little Dutchmen starter Mitch Long for Austin Yerger’s single and stolen base, Cody Kissinger’s RBI-safety and a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. The Cedars extended their advantage to 2-0 in the second, courtesy of Matt Klein’s run-producing double.
Annville-Cleona bounced back in the home half of the second, recording two runs off of Cedar hurler Justin Martin. A Colton Long double and a Lebanon High error set up RBI opportunities for Schrader and Nick Hughes.
“I don’t think I’ve seen his best yet this year,” said Shyda of Mitch Long. “He mixed pitches a little bit, and settled down a little. He did gut it out. We needed someone to step in and throw some innings, and he almost gave us six.
“Their (the Cedars’) hitting very much impressed me,” Shyda continued. “I didn’t expect them to hit. They feasted on the fastball. When he (Mitch Long) was able to get his off-speed over, he kept them off balance.”
“He’s a competitor,” said Toomey of Mitch Long. “Whether he was ahead in the count or behind, he trusted his pitches. It was a good competitive game tonight. It was great to see our guys battle, but Annville-Cleona battled too. I thought we did a great job of not allowing any situation to get too big for us.
“I was proud of the way Justin threw,” Toomey added. “It’s easy to pitch when everything is going well. It takes a real competitor to fight through mistakes and errors. He stayed competitive and he kept us in the game. As the pitcher, you’re the only guy who has to stay emotionally neutral in the process.”
Annville-Cleona took advantage of two Cedar errors to grab a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third. Alec Barr, who had walked, and Connor, who had singled, scored the Little Dutchmen runs.
The Little Dutchmen returned the favor in the top of the fourth, as a Camryn Shaak single, an A-C error and a Mike DeLeon RBI-safety produced two LHS runs and a four-all tie.
“It’s good,” said Shyda of his club’s 6-2 mark. “But we’ve got a rough stretch coming up. We’re not satisfied. We’re going to need to play better than we have to challenge the teams we have coming up.”
Section Three Standings
Section Four Standings
2015 Lebanon High Results
|4:15 PM||L 0-11|
|4:00 PM||W 19-4|
|4:15 PM||L 6-11|
|4:15 PM||L 0-3|
|4:15 PM||L 2-5|
|4:15 PM||L 3-14|
|4:15 PM||L 0-10|
|4:15 PM||W 10-0|
|4:15 PM||L 8-10|
2015 Annville-Cleona Results
@Lancaster County Christian
|4:30 PM||W 6-2|
|4:15 PM||W 3-0|
|4:15 PM||W 12-0|
|4:15 PM||W 15-5|
|4:15 PM||W 11-3|
|4:15 PM||L 0-5|
|4:15 PM||L 8-12|
|4:15 PM||W 10-8|