BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – Life is neither a box of chocolates, a bowl of cherries or a bed of roses. Things don’t always go the way we plan, hope for or want them to.
And sometimes the sad stories need to be told.
The story of the Cedar Crest baseball team’s 2015 season isn’t as much sad as it is disappointing and frustrating. But however one cares to look at it, yesterday the Falcons authored the 12th unfulfilling chapter of it.
On Monday afternoon, Cedar Crest didn’t perform poorly, but still dropped a 2-0 Lancaster-Lebanon Section One decision to Warwick. Falcon starter Austin Douple matched his Warrior counterpart, Zach Peters, pitch-for-pitch the whole way, except for a top-of-the-fifth inning when Warwick plated the contest’s only runs.
The loss dropped Cedar Crest, which was without the services of regular Nick Gonzalez, to 3-12 on the spring and 2-11 in Section One. In 11 of their losses, the Falcons have scored three runs or less, and they’ve now been shut out five times this season.
After going 10-10 in each of the past two campaigns, this season is one of only a handful of losing seasons that the Falcons have ever experienced, in their storied, five-decade-long history.
It is a history that has made Cedar Crest baseball one of Lebanon County’s most successful scholastic sports programs. The Falcons have won a District Three Class AAAA championship as recently as 2010 and a Section One crown as recently as 2011.
With the win, Warwick moved to 13-3 on the year and 11-3 in Section One.
“It’s one of the worst, if not ‘the’ worst ever,” said Cedar Crest head coach Ryan White, a former Falcon player who enjoyed his share of success on the field. “I probably take it harder than the kids, because I’m not sure the kids know about the tradition and the success of the program. I would say ‘frustration’ would be a good word, because I think we have more talent than three wins.
“We’ve experienced a lot of inconsistencies,” continued White. “Some days we see positives with the pitching, and that day the defense doesn’t do well. You think they (his players) can do a better job, and it doesn’t show up on the field.”
Douple carried a two-hit shutout into the visitor’s half of fifth. But Warrior Luke Moriano led off with a single and promptly stole second.
An out later, Douple walked Peters, whose courtesy runner also stole second. Then Warwick nine-hole hitter Chase Martin lined a Douple offering into center field for a pair of Warrior runs.
“They’re playing hard,” said White of his charges. “They’re coming our everyday, competing and trying to do the best they can. On our schedule, there’s no easy team. If we don’t play seven solid innings in all three facets of the game, we’re not going to win the game. There haven’t been too many games we’ve played well enough in all three phases of the game to win.
“I thought we played well against one of the top teams in the district,” added White. “Overall, we just need to play a little better.”
The Cedar Crest defense committed just one, harmless error and turned two double plays behind Douple, who probably deserved a better fate. Douple went the distance on a seven-hitter, struck out three and walked one.
“He’s one of our better pitchers,” said White of Douple. “He’s able to throw three pitches for strikes, which makes calling pitches easier. And he keeps his pitch count down. He went seven (innings) and kept them (the Warriors) off-balance most of the game.
“He’s had three starts this season,” White added. “The first one was pretty much exactly like this one, against Manheim Township, and the other was a tough loss to Elizabethtown.”
The Falcons did strand nine runners on the base paths, three of which came in the bottom of the second when they loaded the bases – on singles from Juan Espinosa and Jacee Orta and a walk to Chase Ocker – with two outs. With Douple picking up a one-out single in the top of the first and Joe Carpenter registering a two-out safety in the fifth, the Falcons collected a total of four hits.
“I thought he threw very similar to Austin,” said White of Peters. ” He changed speeds well and he threw strikes. He made us put it in play and defensively they (the Warriors) played well.
“I told our guys, ‘The wind blows in a lot around here’,” continued White. “I didn’t think we did a good job today (with their hitting approach). We allowed them to make too many easy plays.”
The only other frame that Cedar Crest managed to put more than one runner on base was the fifth, when Wes Wentling followed Carpenter’s hit with a walk.
“I asked the guys, ‘How do you want to finish out the season?’,” said White. ” ‘Do you want to go through the motions? Or do you want to learn and continue to get better?’ We have to come out tomorrow, improve and go 1-0 against McCaskey.”
Cedar Crest 2015 Results
|4:15 PM||L 1-5|
|4:15 PM||L 3-7|
|4:15 PM||L 6-16|
|4:15 PM||L 2-3|
|4:15 PM||L 0-10|
|4:15 PM||L 3-6|
|4:15 PM||W 10-0|
|7:00 PM||L 0-5|
|4:15 PM||L 0-5|
|11:00 AM||W 12-3|
|4:15 PM||L 2-3|
|4:15 PM||W 10-0|
|4:15 PM||L 0-9|
|2:00 PM||L 2-5|
|4:15 PM||L 0-2|