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BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – During the on-going pandemic, the Elco baseball team has worn masks, social distanced and washed their hands regularly. The Raiders also ate well, trained and developed.

The Raiders went out and got themselves all grown up.

On a sunny Monday afternoon at Elco High School’s Lyle Krall Field, the senior-rich Raiders shaded Lebanon 6-2 in an early-season non-league clash between a couple of County clubs seeking their directions. Elco opened a 5-0 lead in the third inning and freshman hurler Morgan Shanaman made it stand up.

With the triumph, Elco upped its overall record to 2-0. Elco had opened its spring campaign on Saturday, with a 7-1 victory at Donegal.

For Lebanon, the contest served as its season opener.

“Things went well, very well,” said Elco head coach Roger Hehnly. “I think the key was our team work, and obviously our pitching. The freshman threw a gem.

“We’ve got a very good group of senior guys who are taking control of the team,” added Hehnly. “It’s a good group with strong personalities and a lot of character.”

“They haven’t seen much swings in the last three weeks,” said Lebanon head coach Fred Gonzalez of his crew. “They’ve been doing a lot of catching up. I’m not ever 100 percent happy. We chased a little bit out of the zone.

“I literally don’t know much about their (Elco’s) guys,” continued Gonzalez. “You don’t know anything about anyone because no one played last year. But I’m not a big scout on what other teams have any way.”

R.J. Peiffer gave Elco a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a ringing double to right field.

Then the Raiders really broke out in the bottom of the third, turning six hits – including five straight to open the frame – into four more runs. Riley Blatt, Dakota Smith, Peiffer again and Wyatt Menzel all drove home Elco runs.

“We had back-to-back hits, a couple of stolen bases and then another hit,” said Hehnly of the rally. “We just had good timing on everything.”

“Their meat hit the ball,” said Gonzalez. “They did what they’re supposed to do. When we got it up, they pounded it. We left a lot of balls up.

“Maybe it was a little fatigue, or not finishing and leaving it elevated,” Gonzalez continued. “But I still thought this squad could put a series of hits together. We didn’t strike out a whole bunch. We had contact up and down the lineup.”

For his part, Shanaman wasn’t necessarily overpowering, but he was around the plate all afternoon and he kept the Cedars guessing. Before giving way to Smith to start the top of the seventh, Shanaman scattered seven hits, fanned eight and issued one walk.

The freshman righthander took that 5-0 lead into the top of the fifth inning, before Lebanon got to him. Jafrandy Pena’s two-out single plated Cedar teammate Braden Collazo, who had doubled.

“He (Shanaman) threw very well. He was very confident,” said Elco senior catcher Jeremy Eck of his battery-mate. “I really though he controlled their (the Cedars’) at-bats. It was nice that he was able to throw his curveball in key situations. As a catcher, the mindset is to get ahead in the count. It was nice that he got ahead with his fastball.”

“He threw a solid game,” said Gonzalez of Shanaman. “Ideally, we should’ve hit him better. He tried to get ahead and mix in junk every now and then. He started every batter but one with a first-pitch fastball. But you’ve got to tip your hat to the kid. He did a nice job.”

The Raiders made it a 6-1 game in the bottom of the fifth inning with Peiffer’s lead-off ‘big fly’ to center field. Lebanon tallied its final run in the top of the sixth, when Braden Allwein double and Julian Coleman blasted an RBI-triple.

“I think the mindset was, ‘Never given in, no matter what the lead is,'” said Eck. “We had a comfortable lead, but we didn’t want to lose that competitive edge. I thought how we played as a team really helped. We got good pitching and our bats were electric.

“I think our goal every year is to make it to the playoffs,” Eck added. “The senior class has really stepped up. When you have leadership at the top it trickles down to the underclassmen.”

“I thought Jose (Porte) did a really nice job on the mound,” said Gonzalez of his starter, who counted 68 pitches. “We were hoping to get him into the fifth inning and keep him somewhere around that number.

“Realistically, we want to win the section and have a season over .500,” concluded Gonzalez. “If we swing the bats, it’s doable with the arms we have. They’re (his pitchers) really interchangeable. This is probably one of the most versatile squads I’ve had.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2021 Elco Baseball Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
3/26
4:15 pm
Elco
at Donegal
7
1

League
3/29
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Elco

League
3/31
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

League
4/01
4:15 pm
Schuylkill Valley
at Elco

Nonleague
4/05
4:15 pm
Elco
at Manheim Central

League
4/07
4:15 pm
Garden Spot
at Elco

League
4/09
4:15 pm
Elco
at Octorara

League
4/12
4:15 pm
Cocalico
at Elco

League
4/14
4:15 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Catholic

League
4/16
4:15 pm
Pequea Valley
at Elco

League
4/19
4:15 pm
Elco
at Columbia

League
4/21
4:15 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Elco

League
4/26
4:15 pm
Donegal
at Elco

League
4/27
4:15 pm
Wyomissing
at Elco

Nonleague
4/30
7:00 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon

League
5/03
4:15 pm
Manheim Central
at Elco

League
5/05
4:15 pm
Elco
at Garden Spot

League
5/07
4:15 pm
Octorara
at Elco

League
5/08
1:00 pm
Elco
at Tulpehocken

Nonleague
5/10
4:15 pm
Elco
at Cocalico

League

2021 Lebanon Baseball Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
3/26
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lebanon
Postponed
Nonleague
3/29
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Elco

League
3/31
4:15 pm
Solanco
at Lebanon

League
4/01
4:15 pm
Cocalico
at Lebanon

Nonleague
4/05
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Lampeter-Strasburg

League
4/07
4:15 pm
Ephrata
at Lebanon

League
4/09
4:15 pm
Elizabethtown
at Lebanon

League
4/12
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Conestoga Valley

League
4/14
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Manheim Township

League
4/16
4:15 pm
Penn Manor
at Lebanon

League
4/19
4:15 pm
Hempfield
at Lebanon

League
4/21
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at McCaskey

League
4/23
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Warwick

League
4/26
4:15 pm
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon

League
4/28
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Solanco

League
5/03
7:00 pm
Lebanon
at Ephrata

League
5/05
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Elizabethtown

League
5/07
4:15 pm
Conestoga Valley
at Lebanon

League

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