BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – The operative cliche for yesterday’s weather was: ‘Both teams had to deal with the same conditions.’ But as improbable as it may sound, as the precipitation picked up, so did the Cedar Crest baseball team’s intensity.
When the skies began to threaten at the outset of the Falcons’ Friday afternoon Lancaster-Lebanon Section One tilt with Hempfield, the Black Knights jumped on CC ace Conor Bawiec for an early 3-0 lead. But once the imminent rain began to fall, it seemed to waken the Falcons, and then amid a steady downpour in the bottom of the third inning, Crest pieced together a decisive five-run rally.
So it only seemed appropriate that game would be called in the bottom of fifth inning – a mere two outs after it had become official – with the Falcons up 8-4.
A rain-shortened victory? No doubt. A well-deserved triumph? Indubitably! An important win? You bet your Turface.
The result kept Cedar Crest, now 9-6 overall and 8-4 in the circuit, right in the thick of the L-L Section One race and solidified its chances of qualifying for the District Three Class AAAA postseason. The loss dropped Hempfield to 7-7 on the season and 6-6 in the section.
“You can say it worked out well,” said Cedar Crest head coach Ryan White. “But when we play our game and bring our bats, we can play with anyone.
“We’ve talked about our body language, our composure,” White continued. “How we handle adversity, and today they (his players) responded well to an early deficit. No, that’s not always been the case this season.”
Seemingly unfazed by the Black Knights’ three-run top-of-the-first and subsequent 4-2 lead, Cedar Crest just continued to battle, and its efforts paid off in the third inning.
The five-run outburst was set up by four consecutive singles – from Bawiec, batterymate Caleb Albright, Devin Elder and Austin Douple – to open the frame. Elder’s and Douple’s produced runs, while teammate Chase Ocker forced in another run with a bases-loaded walk.
The final two runs came around on a Hempfield error, and gave Cedar Crest a 7-4 lead.
“It was very important, because it was the game today,” said White. “Whatever game we’re playing is the most important.
“I don’t think it (the rivalry with Hempfield) is as much as it was in the past,” continued White. “The kids play with so many different kids in travel ball, it’s all the same. I think it was more important when I played. We didn’t like Hempfield or Manheim Township. We didn’t like anybody. But it was just because those teams won.”
Before the weather rolled in, the Black Knights hit Bawiec hard early, including five straight base knocks to open the game. Then in the second, Hempfield raked the muscular Falcon righthander for three more hits and the run that made it 4-2.
But Bawiec settled down, settled in and retired ten of the final 12 batters he faced. In collecting the win, Bawiec counted 71 pitches, fanned three and walked one.
“His problem was location,” said White of Bawiec. “He would probably tell you he wasn’t locating well if you asked him. He got ahead very nicely. There were a ton of 0-2, 1-2 counts, and he’d leave some ball up. I don’t know what he changed. When he started to locate them, they (the Black Knights) didn’t hit it as hard. They didn’t square up as many balls.”
“I don’t think we’re any more confident with Conor on the mound,” White added. “With every pitcher, we think he’s going to do the best he can.”
Cedar Crest also did an admirable job of responding to the Black Knights’ initial foray, in the form of two first-inning runs of its own.
Lead-off hitter Gavin Smith got things going with a single, and Bawiec kept them going with another hit. Both eventually came around to score, on a Hempfield error and balk.
“It sets you up going into next week,” said White of the outcome. “It’s Section One. Everybody is neck and neck, and every game is important.
“It’s good for today,” added White. “Penn Manor and Warwick were sitting at the top of the section and they were supposed to play today. Any team on any given day is going to beat anybody. Look at the standings. If we come ready to play, we give ourselves a chance, and that’s all we can ask for.”
With conditions bordering on unplayable in the bottom of the fifth, the Falcons extended their cushion to 8-4 when Smith drove home Nick Gonzalez, who had walked, went to second on a wild pitch and made it to third on an Ocker single.
Two batters later, the umpires called the game.
And then, Abby said ‘Yes!’.
District Three CLASS AAAA
RANK SCHOOL NAME POWER RATING
1 Ephrata Area (11-2-0) 0.762215
2 Reading (11-4-0) 0.752726
3 Lower Dauphin (11-3-0) 0.741413
4 Spring Grove Area (10-4-0) 0.724069
5 Cumberland Valley (7-4-0) 0.721053
6 Waynesboro Area (10-2-0) 0.720523
7 Warwick (9-4-0) 0.714561
8 Exeter Township (9-5-0) 0.711249
9 Governor Mifflin (10-5-0) 0.710626
10 Penn Manor (10-5-0) 0.707061
11 Chambersburg Area (8-6-0) 0.697981
12 Central York (8-4-0) 0.690700
13 Wilson (7-7-0) 0.680177
14 Carlisle (8-5-0) 0.677614
15 Dallastown Area (7-5-0) 0.671407
16 Cedar Crest (8-6-0) 0.668369
17 Daniel Boone (6-6-0) 0.667749
18 Muhlenberg (8-6-0) 0.660912
19 Red Lion Area (6-4-0) 0.649898
20 Hempfield (7-7-0) 0.641558
21 Cedar Cliff (5-5-0) 0.638241
22 Solanco (8-7-0) 0.637747
23 Red Land (5-5-0) 0.634237
24 Manheim Township (6-8-0) 0.612572
25 Mechanicsburg Area (7-6-0) 0.612333
26 Conestoga Valley (7-7-0) 0.610278
27 Central Dauphin (5-7-0) 0.605484
28 New Oxford (7-6-0) 0.597490
29 Hershey (6-7-0) 0.589401
30 Elizabethtown Area (5-10-0) 0.531310
31 J P McCaskey (3-11-0) 0.471822
32 South Western (1-11-0) 0.383333
33 Central Dauphin East (1-10-0) 0.372438
34 Lebanon (1-13-0) 0.348937
35 Harrisburg (0-9-0) 0.285814
36 York County School Of Technology (0-12-0) 0.222289