PALMYRA – Momma always said there’d be days like this. But perhaps the best thing about baseball is that there’s another game starting sometime soon.
It is the ultimate sport for short memories. If you don’t already have one, you’ll develop it quickly.
On Wednesday after school, the Palmyra baseball team laid the proverbial egg against rival Hershey. The Cougars endured a nightmarish seven-run Trojan rally in the top of the fifth inning, then went on to drop an 11-1 Mid-Penn Keystone Division division to their neighbor.
Now 3-3 overall, Hershey is one of four teams leading the division with a 3-1 league mark.
“This one hurt,” said Palmyra head coach Tim Gingrich. “It’s only our sixth game, and we’ve got 20. But we’ve got to put this one behind us. If you dwell on it, it goes over to the next game, and you’re only hurting yourself.
“It’s kind of been a roller coaster,” continued Gingrich. “In the games we lost, we really weren’t in any of them. When we’ve won, we’ve played well. It really takes all phases (hitting, pitching and defense) to be successful.”
The contest was extremely competitive early. It was scoreless through three innings of play, partly because the Cougars left the bases loaded in the bottoms of both the second and third innings.
Then in the top of the fourth, Hershey loaded the bases with one out, and made Palmyra pay. Former Cougar Connor Gurt’s two-run single was the big blow, while teammate Nick Laman contributed an RBI-single from the eight hole, as the Trojans opened a 3-0 lead.
“I thought that was a huge one,” said Gingrich of the swing of momentum from the bottom of the third to the top of the fourth. “If we score some runs, we stay on top of it better. I told the guys that it was a tale of two games. We left eight guys on base. We gave up a couple of unearned runs, and it’s their game.
“I thought we played alright for the first four innings,” added Gingrich. “If we score a couple of runs, we play better. Then it kind of went south.”
Palmyra made it a 3-1 ball game in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of Isaac Blatt’s two-out RBI-single. Blatt drove home Chris Good, who had singled and moved up on Dylan Spagnola’s hit.
“These are great kids,” Gingrich continued. “They’re working at it. We’re going to nickle and dime you. We’re going to manufacture stuff. We’re not going to hit a lot of home runs.”
Just when Palmyra thought it had stemmed the Trojans’ momentum, the wheels fell off.
Then after Cougar starter Zach Yingst began to labor, his defense abandoned him. By the time the Cougars had committed three more errors, they were facing a 10-1 deficit.
“I was just trying to settle him down,” said Gingrich of a fifth-inning visit to Yingst. “He only threw 50 pitches going into the fifth inning. It wasn’t like he was tired. He was getting the ball up, and they (the Trojans) took advantage of it.
“He threw great against Northern Lebanon,” Gingrich added. “He mixed it up and kept them off balance. He’s done well. He just got the ball up today. Then it just snowballed. We couldn’t get them out.”
The win went to Gurt, who surrendered three hits and four walks, and struck out none, in four innings of work.
“Gurt’s an ex-Palmyra player,” said Gingrich. “He’s a great kid. He threw OK. I’ve seen him throw better. We had him on the ropes, and let him get out of it. But that’s to his credit.”
The Trojans tallied their final run in the top of the seventh frame. Hershey finished with a total of 17 hits.
“I want to get into the district playoffs,” said Gingrich. “Once you get in there, anything can happen. It’s a whole new ball game. But we’ve got to win some more ball games. We’ve got to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat.”
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