MYERSTOWN – Most clubs would’ve found the task of overcoming such an absence – in both quality and quantity – too daunting. So how did Annville do it?
With superior depth, yet another good Gohn game and one mighty swing of Robbie Beidler’s thunder stick.
On Thursday evening at Elco High School’s Lyle Krall Field, Annville, minus five key starters, shaded Richland 2-1, in Lebanon County American Legion League baseball action. Despite the absence of five of the first six hitters in its batting order, Annville still managed to put a quality product on the field, and then got a quality start from Gohn and maybe the only quality hit of the game out of Beidler.
With the win, Annville improved to 7-2 in the local summer circuit. Annville still hasn’t lost a game to any team in the league besides first-place Myerstown, a factoid that includes a 3-0 regular-season sweep of Richland.
Richland, seeking to qualify for the league’s postseason for the first time in a number of years, slipped to 4-7 in the county and 4-10 overall.
“The significance of this is we were missing five starters tonight,” said Annville head coach Steve Hostetter. “You can make a statement with that. That can be defeating to the other team. But a lot of these kids haven’t played a lot.
“No, I don’t think there’s a lot of teams in the league who could’ve pulled this off,” continued Hostetter. “Truthfully, I wasn’t exactly sure we could. That’s a big boost. Two things won it. Pitching. Jordan threw an excellent game. He did a nice job. That’s a big thing. And we came up with two hits, and Robbie had a big blow.”
“Honestly, I don’t care,” said Richland head coach Travis Thome of Annville’s player shortage. “We show up every night with nine or ten guys and we play one-run ball games. It doesn’t matter who they put out there. We’ve got to beat whoever they put out.
“Tonight would’ve been a turning point for us, if we want to make the playoffs,” added Thome. “Now they (Annville) swept us. Anytime you get swept, that’s not a good thing.”
After Gohn and Richland starter Steven Rhoades had been locked in a pitch-for-pitch, out-for-out pitcher’s duel, Beidler struck the decisive blow with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. With his side facing a 1-0 deficit and mates Nick Hughes and Adam Bennett aboard, Beidler ripped a Rhoades offering on one hop against the right-center field fence.
“He has come up with some big hits for us,” said Hostetter of Beidler. “He’s one of those guys who gets hits in big situations. Some hitters tighten up when they get in that situation. With Robbie, it’s exactly the opposite. I told him, ‘It’s 2-0. Look fastball. Look middle in. And look to drive it.’ He caught that ball.
“We did not hit the ball,” Hostetter continued. “We stole one. That seems to be our MO – good pitching, good defense and not a whole lot of offense. I’m waiting for our bats to come around.”
“He’s a big lefty,” said Thome of Beidler. “He has a presence at the plate. We thought about, ‘Should we bring Zimmy (Travis Zimmerman) in or should we leave Rhoades out there to try and get out of it.’ I thought that was his (Rhoades’) last batter.
“It was 2-0,” Thome added. “You’ve got to tip your hat. He squared up a pitch. He was the first guy all night to square up a pitch.”
Rhoades walked two Annville batters in the top of the first, and then after working around an error in the second, retired ten opposing hitters in-a-row. After surrendering the lone run in the bottom of the fifth, Gohn retired the last eight Richland hitters he faced, four of which were by strikeout.
“I thought maybe this would come down to a one-run game, or maybe a 1-0 game,” said Hostetter. “I hated to bunt in the sixth inning. We were down 1-0, but we needed to at least tie it up. We got a walk with Bennett, and Robbie cracked a ball.
“He (Rhoades) threw a nice game,” Hostetter continued. “Is he the caliber of pitcher to be throwing a two-hitter? No. But he kept us off stride. We didn’t hit the ball hard. I don’t know what he was throwing, but it was enough to keep our hitter lunging.”
“He doesn’t walk many guys,” Thome added. “You’ve got to hit the baseball. For a lefty, he throws hard. I would say he’s one of the better pitchers in the league.”
Gohn finished with a four-hitter, struck out eight and walked one. Before being lifted for Zimmerman to start the seventh, Rhoades fanned four and issued three free passes.
“He is tough,” said Hostetter of Gohn. “His ball has a natural tail to it. He’s also got a good curveball. It breaks sharp, pretty much at the end. It’s almost an impossible pitch to hit. He’s thrown well for us. He’s been a big plus for us on the mound.”
“Once we got out of the first inning, then it looked a little better,” said Thome. “Steve had a lot of trouble finding the strike zone. We were fortunate to get out of it with no runs, and he settled down. Then we saw that whoever gets a couple of runs was going to win the game.
“He’s (Rhoades) one of those guys, when he goes out there, we expect to win the ball game,” Thome added. “He only gave up two hits, and only one of them was a good hit. He threw well enough to win. But ultimately the scoreboard tells the tale.”
Richland broke up a scoreless draw when it bunched three of its hits in the bottom of the fifth inning. Rhoades drove in the run, after Phil Kline had led off with a single and Jack Mays had moved him to third with a safety.
“What I read into that is that they’re a good ball club,” said Hostetter of the fact that his team’s two losses have come to Myerstown. “It seems like they’re the team we have to beat. It seems like the other four teams are battling it out.
“My hat’s off to them (Richland),” added Hostetter. “They’ve taken it on the chin the last couple of years. I don’t think they were expecting a lot this year. They’ve done an excellent job with this team.”
“It’s not good enough,” said Thome. “All but one of our league games have been close. Every loss but one has been one or two runs. I told our guys, ‘We’re right there.’ We’ve got to get consistency. Consistency makes a good team.”
Baseball League Standings
W L T Pts.
Myerstown8 1 0 24
Annville 7 2 0 21
Richland 4 7 0 12
Fredericksburg 3 6 0 9
Campbelltown 2 5 0 6