BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – It wasn’t all that long ago that they were on the other side of one of these.
Errors. Passed balls. Mental breakdowns. Head hangings. But now instead of being guilty of them, the Lebanon baseball team is feasting on them.
In a contest that seemed to epitomize where they’ve been and where they’re going, the opportunistic Cedars drilled Milton Hershey 10-0 at Coleman Memorial Park on Friday afternoon, in a non-league affair that was shortened to five innings by the mercy rule. Lebanon High broke open a scoreless game with a huge nine-run rally in the bottom of the third inning, one that featured numerous Spartan miscues, and then added a single run an inning later to bring the ten-run rule into effect.
In his first start of the young season, Cedar senior right-hander Danny Caricabeur hurled a two-hit shutout. To a degree, Caricabeur worked in and out of trouble by making his pitches when he needed to most.
The triumph evened Lebanon’s overall record at 2-2. Milton Hershey fell to 0-2 on the spring.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Lebanon head coach Mike Toomey. “It has more to do with our mindset than anything else. We have to focus on every job, every process, and let rest take care of itself.
“We had guys coming around for their second at-bat (in the bottom of the third),” continued Toomey. “We made some adjustments. The guys did that, and we executed the bunt much better. We took advantage of some base-running opportunities.”
The Cedars sent 14 hungry hitters to the plate in the fateful third inning. Milton Hershey fueled Lebanon’s fire with five errors.
The Cedars’ first six batters in the frame – Cam Shaak, Logan Blouch, Michael DeLeon, Cody Kissinger, Caricabeur and Austin Yeager – all reached base, in a variety of ways, and all came around to score. Blouch scored on the back end of a double steal and later chased home a teammate, Kissinger laced two separate RBI-singles, while Dharlim Vasquez lined a two-run single.
In the frame, Lebanon collected seven hits.
“It’s an ever evolving thing,” said Toomey. “The coaching staff has done a great job of establishing a discipline and a culture. Once you’ve established it, the rest is up to the players to buy into it. I can’t say enough about our players. We expect to show up and play everyday.
“We still have the mindset of taking it one game at a time,” Toomey added. “But our guys know that we can compete with everyone on our schedule.”
The Cedars increased their lead to double digits in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of Shaak’s two-out, RBI-single. Shaak’s hit scored Brian Garcia, who had singled and moved up on yet another Spartan error.
“I thought overall we did pretty well,” said Toomey. “It took our guys an at-bat to get adjusted to their guy on the mound. And I thought our guys did a good job with their heads-up base running.
“First and foremost, I’m looking for effort,” continued Toomey. “Any coach is going to look for things they can’t teach. We were mentally prepared to show up, which is a big deal because we were coming off a tough loss at Exeter Township. It shows them what they’re capable of when the effort is there.”
Caricabeur whiffed seven and walked three in his abbreviated, route-going effort. Both of the Spartan hits he allowed came in the top of the second inning.
“I thought Danny threw extremely well,”said Toomey. “He attacked the strike zone. He located his fastball really well. He came up with big pitches when he needed them. When I give him the ball, I expect him to go out there and execute all of his pitches.
“We have three guys (pitchers) who we can count on at any give time,” added Toomey. “Between Danny, Cody Kissinger and Michael DeLeon, we feel like we can give them the ball everyday, and they’re going to go out there and compete.”
Caricabeur retired Milton Hershey in order just once, in the top of the first inning. He benefited from a nifty 6-4-3 twin killing in the second and worked out of trouble in the third and fifth frames.
“We have good enough leadership that our guys understand what the expectation is,” said Toomey. “They understand where we’re trying to get to, and what our goals are this season.
“I’m pretty happy with how things are going, but I’m nowhere near satisfied,”concluded Toomey. “We’re still hungry.We’re nowhere near where we want to be. I’m pretty pleased, but not satisfied.”
To purchase images in this article email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-ten/.