SOUTH LEBANON – In a condensed season, there’s very little room for errors. Yesterday, that margin for the Cedar Crest baseball team shrank.
On Thursday evening, the Falcons were plagued by errors, mental breakdowns and poor decision-making in the rarest of 16-6 losses to McCaskey, in a Lancaster-Lebanon Section One contest shortened to six innings by the mercy rule. It was one of the Falcons’ most disappointing losses ever to the Red Tornado, a program which it has done very well against over the years.
McCaskey scored its 16 runs with the benefit of only 11 hits. Nine of those runs were unearned, as Cedar Crest was guilty of six errors.
There was also the matter of eight free passes issued by Falcon pitching, three hit batters, a balk and a catcher’s interference call. Whether or not Cedar Crest beat itself was a matter of conjecture, but there’s no question that the Falcons did not perform well.
The loss dropped Cedar Crest to 0-3 overall and 0-3 in Section One. McCaskey moved to 1-3 on the year and 1-2 in the league.
“I told them to clean up (the field),” said Cedar Crest head coach Ryan White of his post game address to his troops. “In a little bit, we’re going to talk. But I really haven’t thought about what I’m going to say yet. I’ve told them before that it’s a process. But I’ve also told them if they don’t come ready to play, they’re going to get beat. There’s no team we play this season that we can just show up and beat.
“We have 17 more games to go,” continued White. “You have to look at it like you want it. But every game is important.”
Perhaps the most positive thing the Falcons did all game long was stave off elimination. Facing a 14-4 deficit and the ten-run rule in the bottom of the fifth inning, Cedar Crest got a single from Chase Ocker and a walk to Mark Wolfe ahead of Iziah Trimble’s two-out, two-run single.
But undeterred, the Red Tornado brought the mercy rule back into play in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs on an error, a single and Matt Frey’s two-run single.
“We fought hard to the end,” said White, diplomatically and politically correct. “They (the Red Tornado) had a better day than we did, offensively, defensively, pitching, and in every facet of the game. I’m not taking anything away from McCaskey. They came out and took it to us. That’s a good win for them.
“McCaskey has done a phenomenal job of turning their program around over the last few years,” White continued. “If you don’t come ready to play, you’re not going to win games.”
The Falcons were within striking distance, down just 4-3, when they surrendered an ugly six-spot in the top of the third. All six of the runs that Cedar Crest yielded were unearned, and all came after McCaskey had loaded the bases with nobody out, on a single, a walk and an error.
“Pitching-wise, we’ve got to get ahead in the count, and we’ve got to locate,” said White. “When you don’t get ahead, the batter knows a fastball is coming. Anybody can hit a fastball that’s right down the middle of the plate. Defensively, we can’t make those mistakes that give the other team extra outs.
“I feel we need to do a better job of knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are,” White added. “You work on your weaknesses in practice. But when you play you try to show your strengths more at the plate.”
McCaskey loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the opening inning, thanks to a base-on-balls, catcher’s interference and a hit batsman. Red Tornado Oscar Surillo unloaded them and staked his side to a 3-0 lead with a double.
The Falcons got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame when Joe Carpenter’s sacrifice fly plated Nick Gonzalez, who had doubled. Then in the bottom of the second, Cedar Crest pulled to within 4-3 of the lead on back-to-back RBI-singles off the bats of Gonzalez and Austin Douple.
“Monday is another day,” said White. “You can’t say it’s a must-win at this point. It’s not a must-win. I’d like to win. You don’t need a win. In life, there are things you need, but a win might not be one of them.
“You have to learn from it,” continued White. “Think what you could’ve done better. Discuss what we did well. And then go get them against Penn Manor, or the next game.”
On a walk to Wolfe, a single from Trimble and a walk to Douple, the Falcons loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth. But all Cedar Crest could manage out of the situation was a Wes Wentling sacrifice fly that made it 11-4.
“Pitching and defense are always going to be key,” said White. “Behind (Senior southpaw, Hunter) Torres, we didn’t know what depth we had. We’re still trying to find pieces and where they fit.”
Section One Standings