BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – Early on, it looked like things weren’t going Elco’s way.
But as the game progressed, at no point did verbal support become bickering.
At no point did distress turn into anger.
And at no point did confidence turn into doubt.
The Raiders had worked way too hard to give anything they had earned back.
On a cloudy Monday afternoon at Lyle Krall Field, one of the best Elco baseball seasons in recent memory came to a screeching halt, with a 5-0 loss to West York, during the play-in round of the District Three Class AAAA playoffs. The Raiders surrendered four runs in the top of the second inning, and just couldn’t mount much offense against Bulldog pitching fronted by southpaw starter Zach Gettys.
The loss ended the seventh-seeded Raiders’ year at 15-6. West York, the tenth seed, will carry an 11-10 mark into Thursday’s quarterfinal round of the district tournament.
“In my 19 years as the head coach, that was the most games we won in the regular season,” said Elco head coach Chris Weidner. “I told the guys, ‘You have nothing to be ashamed of’. Obviously we wanted to get further and do better. Hopefully when they look back on it, they’ll think of it as a nice season, especially with the growth we had. We had some guys stepping into different roles.
“Our goal was to try and make a run, make a deep run,” continued Weidner. “Any time you get in (to the playoffs), anything can happen. That’s what we were preaching. We truly believed that.”
Except for the second, Elco starter Clay Hain looked like the pitcher who had emerged as his team’s ace this season. During that fateful frame, three of the four runs Hain was tagged with were unearned, and those three also came after two outs had been recorded.
The big blow – a two-run double to left field – was struck by Gettys. Zion Neuman also drove home a Bulldog run, as did teammate Colton Kubicki.
But the rally started with an Elco error.
“He got the ball up a little bit in that inning, and they (the Bulldogs) hit the ball hard,” said Weidner of Hain. “Other than that, he pitched extremely well. I thought Clay settled down. He pitched his way out of jams. We knew it was going to be a tight ball game.
“He’s (Gettys) now 9-0,” added Weidner. “I thought he was going to be similar to (Taylor) Rohrer from Manheim Central, but he was better. You’ve got to tip your cap to him. And that was Clay’s first loss.”
Elco managed just two hits against Gettys, and his relief, Corey Wise, who came on in the sixth. Raider Cole Miller stroked a two-out single in the top of the first and Elco’s Hunter Witters ripped a one-out double in that same sixth frame.
Before reaching his 100-pitch limit, Gettys fanned seven and issued six free passes.
“We really thought we could win this ball game,” said Weidner. “We just didn’t hit. We didn’t get any breaks.
“I thought we took some called thirds,” Weidner added. “I’d like to see us put the ball in play, to give us an opportunity. I thought there were times when we swung at the pitcher’s pitch. When we would face higher level teams, we struggled to put runs on the board this season.”
The Raiders used Witters’ two-bagger and walks to Joey Ginder and Tyler Price to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate, with two outs in the sixth. But Wise got out of the predicament with a come-backer.
Elco also got a pair of runners on base in the first, third and seventh innings. In fact, the Raiders were only retired in order once – in the bottom of the fifth.
Elco stranded 11 runners on base.
“I told them I thought it was a bonus getting this game on our field,” said Weidner of his charges. “I thought it was an advantage for us. But obviously it wasn’t. It has a sting to it now. But it was a reward. They (the Bulldogs) had a nice drive to get here.
“I’ve been doing this for 20-plus years, and this (the post-game speech) is the hardest thing to do,” Weidner continued. “Coming into this game, they (his players) knew they were going to face a tough customer. These guys wanted to make a run. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially after watching them grow up, watching them make mistakes, watching them learn.”
In his five-and-two-thirds innings of work, Hain allowed just one hit outside of the second, struck out a total of eight and walked two.
“Going into the season, we lost some quality pitchers,” said Weidner. “We knew we were starting some younger guys. We knew we were replacing a bunch, but we had some pitching coming back. Having Kyle Knight back this year was huge, leadership-wise.
“You can’t sneeze at a 15-win season,” continued Weidner. “Would I say we exceeded some expectations? In some people’s minds we did. We wanted to get to the playoffs. But we would’ve liked to stretch this out a little more.”
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2017 Elco Baseball Results
|4:15 PM||W 17-0|
|4:15 PM||W 7-1|
|12:00 PM||W 4-1|
|4:15 PM||W 9-6|
|4:15 PM||W 14-5|
|4:15 PM||L 1-16|
|4:15 PM||L 4-9|
|4:15 PM||W 6-4|
|4:15 PM||W 10-0|
|4:15 PM||L 4-8|
|4:15 PM||L 1-2|
|4:15 PM||W 12-2|
|4:15 PM||W 6-1|
|4:15 PM||W 4-0|
|4:15 PM||W 12-2|
|4:15 PM||L 0-1|
|4:15 PM||W 7-5|
|4:15 PM||W 4-1|
|4:30 PM||Elco High School|
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