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IMG_7534BY JEFF FALK

PAlMYRA – Hit and run. Sacrifice. Straight steal. Long ball. Small ball. Tall ball.

Shoot, the Palmyra baseball team would go up there blind-folded and hit standing on one leg, with an Easton balanced on its nose, if it thought it would help generate some offense.

On Thursday afternoon, the Cougars near year-long struggles at the plate continued, during a 4-1 setback to Middletown. Palmyra did everything it could think of to get to Blue Raider hurler Zack Sims, but to no avail.

IMG_7433Sims, a hard-chucking righthander, stymied the Cougars on three hits and surrendered but the lone unearned run. Thursday marked the tenth time in 12 outings this spring that Palmyra has scored four runs or less.

The loss dropped Palmyra, which was ranked 24th in the initial District Three Class AAA power rankings,  to 4-8 on the campaign and 3-5 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. The Blue Raiders, who shut out Palmyra 1-0 in Middletown on April 1, improved to 6-5 overall and 6-2 in the division.

“What we tried to do the last three innings, we wanted to make him work,” said Palmyra skipper Tim Gingrich of Sims. “We told just about everybody to take a pitch.

IMG_7452“We have not done well with the bats this season,” added Gingrich. “That’s our Achilles Heel. We’ve pitched well. We’re playing excellent defense. We’re just not doing a lot of hitting of the ball.”

The Cougars’ three hits off Sims were a lead-off infield double by Griffin Mitchell in the bottom of the second, Conor Gurt’s one-out single in the fourth and Mitchell’s single to lead off the sixth. Though Sims retired Palmyra in order in just the first and fourth frames, the Cougars tallied their run without the benefit of a base knock in the bottom of the third – and at the time it knotted the score at one.

Conor Gurt reached on an error to start the at-bat, and another error helped him reach third with no outs. Palmyra three-hole hitter Zach Miller scored Gurt on a sacrifice fly to center field.

IMG_7539“Sometimes you’ve got to tip your hat to the pitcher,” said Gingrich of Sims, who fanned nine and walked three during his route-going performance. “The first time he beat us 1-0 and this time it was 4-1. When you’ve got that many young kids, they haven’t seen a curveball that good before. We’ve got all these sophomores, and this is the Mid-Penn Conference.

“He’s (Sims) tough,” Gingrich added. “There were a couple of college guys here looking at him. He’s got a real nice breaker, and he’s around the plate for the most part.”

But for as well as Sims threw, he didn’t pitch that much better than Palmyra starter Mitchell Saulley. Saulley also went the distance, scattered ten hits, struck out two and issued three free passes.

IMG_7523“He’s pitched well every time out,” said Gingrich of his righthander. “He pitched good today. I can’t complain. We played good defense, but we couldn’t get a key hit.

“He (Saulley) needs to get ahead in the count,” continued Gingrich. “He needs to get his curveball over. For the most part, he got it over and kept them off balance.”

Middletown nicked Saulley for a two-out run in the top of the second inning, courtesy of Kyle Finsterbush’s run-scoring single. Then the Blue Raiders took the lead for good in the fourth, on another two-out hit, this one an RBI-double off the bat of lead-off man Cody Fox.

“I’m always disappointed when we have a losing season,” said Gingrich. “But I came into it with my eyes wide open. I knew we were going to play a lot of sophomores. I just want to get guys some playing time and get better.

IMG_7499“We were 24th in the first power rankings, and they take 16 (for the postseason),” Gingrich continued. “If we win today, it bumps us up to 16. There’s that many teams that close. That’s what I told the kids last night, if we would do something good at the end of the weekend, we’d be right back in it.”

Middletown made it a 3-1 game in the top of the fifth, courtesy of a double and an RBI-single. Then in the seventh, the Blue Raiders tacked on an additional insurance tally, when they capitalized on a Cougar throwing error.

“You always, as a coach, think in those terms,” said Gingrich of his charges’ improvement. “I knew we were going to be young. If we get there (the district playoffs), that’s a bonus. And that means we’re getting better.

“I like what I see, and with my JV program, which is doing well,” concluded Gingrich. “We have some good kids coming up. The future’s bright. And that’s going to keep me in it.”

 Mid-Penn Conference

 Keystone Division

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Lower Dauphin 9-0 11-3
Middletown 6-2 6-5
Bishop McDevitt 5-3 8-6
Mechanicsburg 4-4 7-6
Palmyra 3-5 4-8
Susquehanna Twp. 2-4 4-6
Hershey 2-6 6-7
Harrisburg 0-7 0-8

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PIAA District Three

 Class AAA Power Rankings

RANK SCHOOL NAME POWER RATING
1 West York Area (10-1-0) 0.749887 0.916031 (12-1.1) 0.546823 (98.1-81.3)
2 Susquehannock (9-1-0) 0.732323 0.913462 (9.5-0.9) 0.510930 (100.5-96.2)
3 Manheim Central (8-2-0) 0.698895 0.823529 (8.4-1.8) 0.546564 (120.9-100.3)
4 Lampeter Strasburg (10-3-0) 0.695738 0.802920 (11-2.7) 0.564738 (123-94.8)
5 Donegal (9-3-0) 0.691486 0.805085 (9.5-2.3) 0.552644 (120.2-97.3)
6 Hamburg Area (10-2-0) 0.684821 0.838710 (10.4-2) 0.496735 (98.9-100.2)
7 Northeastern (6-4-0) 0.647054 0.686275 (7-3.2) 0.599117 (122.1-81.7)
8 Cocalico (7-5-0) 0.645851 0.708333 (8.5-3.5) 0.569484 (121.3-91.7)
9 Greencastle Antrim (5-2-0) 0.644468 0.746835 (5.9-2) 0.519353 (89.9-83.2)
10 Oley Valley (10-3-0) 0.627948 0.776860 (9.4-2.7) 0.445946 (85.8-106.6)
11 Northern York (8-3-0) 0.626463 0.717949 (8.4-3.3) 0.514647 (89.6-84.5)
12 Bermudian Springs (8-4-0) 0.620742 0.688525 (8.4-3.8) 0.537897 (110-94.5)
13 West Perry (7-3-0) 0.615589 0.697917 (6.7-2.9) 0.514967 (92.9-87.5)
IMG_747314 Northern Lebanon (6-4-0) 0.608171 0.647059 (6.6-3.6) 0.560641 (122.5-96)
15 Littlestown (8-3-0) 0.599954 0.710000 (7.1-2.9) 0.465453 (86.9-99.8)
16 Fleetwood Area (7-5-0) 0.593404 0.629310 (7.3-4.3) 0.549519 (114.3-93.7)
17 Bishop McDevitt (6-5-0) 0.593064 0.605505 (6.6-4.3) 0.577858 (111.7-81.6)
18 Conrad Weiser (6-5-0) 0.587286 0.594595 (6.6-4.5) 0.578353 (122.9-89.6)
19 Middletown Area (4-4-0) 0.573418 0.600000 (4.8-3.2) 0.540929 (97.8-83)
20 Eastern Lebanon County(ELCO) (6-5-0) 0.570047 0.576577 (6.4-4.7) 0.562067 (121.8-94.9)
21 Eastern York (6-5-0) 0.564676 0.560748 (6-4.7) 0.569477 (120.9-91.4)
22 Boiling Springs (6-5-0) 0.548509 0.568807 (6.2-4.7) 0.523699 (90.6-82.4)
23 Twin Valley (5-5-0) 0.540649 0.520408 (5.1-4.7) 0.565388 (115-88.4)
24 Palmyra Area (4-7-0) 0.536749 0.466019 (4.8-5.5) 0.623196 (116.6-70.5)
25 Susquehanna Township (3-5-0) 0.509116 0.472973 (3.5-3.9) 0.553292 (105.9-85.5)
26 Lancaster Catholic (6-6-0) 0.490242 0.527273 (5.8-5.2) 0.444983 (91.8-114.5)
27 Shippensburg Area (3-6-0) 0.476089 0.397590 (3.3-5) 0.572032 (108.4-81.1)
28 Garden Spot (4-8-0) 0.466400 0.362069 (4.2-7.4) 0.593916 (123-84.1)
29 Milton Hershey (4-6-0) 0.462788 0.404255 (3.8-5.6) 0.534328 (89.5-78)
30 Big Spring (3-8-0) 0.457360 0.353535 (3.5-6.4) 0.584258 (110.6-78.7)
31 Dover Area (3-8-0) 0.453720 0.333333 (3.5-7) 0.600858 (112-74.4)
IMG_751532 East Pennsboro (2-5-0) 0.428847 0.327869 (2-4.1) 0.552265 (95.1-77.1)
33 James Buchanan (3-7-0) 0.422878 0.316456 (2.5-5.4) 0.552950 (77.8-62.9)
34 Pequea Valley (4-7-0) 0.419093 0.349515 (3.6-6.7) 0.504132 (97.6-96)
35 York Suburban (3-8-0) 0.415265 0.289720 (3.1-7.6) 0.568710 (107.6-81.6)
36 Wyomissing Area (4-8-0) 0.415122 0.327273 (3.6-7.4) 0.522493 (96.4-88.1)
37 Kennard Dale (1-9-0) 0.364776 0.137500 (1.1-6.9) 0.642558 (107.5-59.8)
38 Gettysburg Area (2-8-0) 0.363352 0.212766 (2-7.4) 0.547402 (102.2-84.5)

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