BY JEFF FALK
After falling into an early 2-0 hole, the Cedars had just cut their deficit in half with their first run of the contest. And with a runner on base and nobody out, they were threatening to rally further.
An attempted sacrifice turned into a bunt single, and it appeared that the Cedars were really in business. But it was at that point – on the very same play – that things went terribly wrong for the home team.
Caught rounding third base too far, a Cedar runner was picked off and tagged out. Meanwhile the runner on first base also had strayed too far off the bag, and the throw behind him was in time to nail him.
Two outs before another pitch had been thrown. The next batter struck out, but the damage had already been done. Rallly effectively killed.
While the pre-described scenario didn’t necessarily cost the Lebanon High baseball team the game, it epitomized the way the Cedars went about their business on Thursday afternoon at Coleman Memorial Park. And perhaps gave on-lookers a glimpse into their spring season to date.
In all, Lebanon ‘gave away’ – should read, ‘didn’t make its opponent earn’ – a total of 18 bases in an 8-2 loss to McCaskey at Coleman Memorial Park, and that didn’t include base-running boo-boos. The Cedars’ pitching and defense was guilty of walks, wild pitches, passed balls, hit-batsmen, allowing stolen bases and of course, errors.
Yet despite all their loose play, Lebanon was still very much in the game until McCaskey scored four times in the top of the seventh inning to break open a 4-2 score. The loss was the Cedars’ tenth in 12 outings this.
Lebanon is now 2-10 overall and 2-7 in Section Two of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. McCaskey moved to 6-7 on the year and 5-5 in Section One of the L-L.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re looking at the ball on the basepaths,” said Lebanon head coach Robert Nordall. “We’ve got to make the plays. Both the pitcher and catcher are working hard. It (giving away bases) happens sometimes.
“No, it really hasn’t been a problem for us this year,” Nordall continued. “What’s been a problem is putting it all together. We’re a much better team than we’ve shown.”
Lebanon High scored its other run in the bottom of the sixth, after the Red Tornado had increased its lead to 4-1 in the top of the frame. Jose Ruiz led off with a single, and after two groundball outs, came around on Heisler Jiminez’s run-producing safety.
Anthony Scatturo had knocked in the Cedars’ first run with a fifth-inning single.
“They’ve (his players) just got to pick themselves up and get ready to play on Monday,” Nordall added. “We’re a much better team than we’ve shown the last few years. But we’ve got to show it instead of talking about it.”
McCaskey opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the third. Thanks to three Cedar errors, both were unearned, and each came after two outs had been recorded.
“What went well is that we got effective pitching,” said Nordall of hurler Jose Lopez. “But we’ve got to make the plays. Jose kept the ball down and threw strikes. He’s still growing as a junior. He’s been a pleasant surprise this year, how competitive he’s been.
“Any time the other gets runs in the later innings it’s insurance,” Nordall added. “We had the bottom of the batting order up (in the bottom of the seventh), but you always have a chance in high school baseball. Anything can happen.”
Lopez allowed only three hits during his five innings on the hill, he struck out five and walked three.
“I think the lack of numbers in terms of pitchers has hurt us,” said Nordall. “We have guys who can throw the ball, but we’re thin,
“At the start of the season I thought we were going to compete every game,” Nordall added. “Show teams we were better and scrape out runs. That’s all these kids need, a step in the positive direction. Then you get a snowball effect.”
Nordall said that his players are committed to baseball off the field – to a degree.
“To be committed to baseball is tough because most of our guys play multiple sports,” Nordall said. “Committment to the baseball program is tough. Most of them are committed to playing baseball in school. But the kids who are committed to baseball are there.”