FREDERICKSBURG – From a Vikings’ perspective, it was one of those games where one had to search extremely hard to locate anything remotely positive. Perhaps the most meaningful thing that could’ve been taken away from it was an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of their stomach – the type of feeling they never want to experience again.
On Friday afternoon, a fledgling Northern Lebanon outfit took its lumps from a pretty good Manheim Central club. The Barons did pretty much whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and clubbed the Vikings 15-0, in a contest that was not shortened by the mercy rule.
Already up 8-0, the Barons scored seven more times during a seventh-inning rally in which they purposely made outs. Northern Lebanon was guilty of five errors in the game and Viking batters struck out a total of 11 times, including seven of the first nine who faced Central hurler Sara McGee.
The loss dropped Northern Lebanon to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. Manheim Central improved to 3-1 on the year and 2-1 in the section.
So was it a loss to learn from, or one to forget about as quickly as possible?
“My opinion is that you can’t forget about losses,” said Dale Kreiser, who’s one of the Vikings’ co-head coaches. “We need to re-assess, fix it and move forward. We need to figure out what we need to do better, and what things we need to focus on. It seemed like everybody left their bats at home.
“This is the worst we played,” Kreiser added. “The rest of the games were within two runs. We just have to unite and play together.”
Already ahead 4-0, the Barons created some breathing room for themselves with a four-run fifth at-bat. The first three Central hitters against Viking pitcher Jess Kreiser reached base, and the Barons ended up sending five more batters to the dish, and did their damage on four hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly.
“We’re not playing well at all,” said Kreiser. “I’m not taking anything away from Manheim Central. They played well. But we didn’t come out and do our job today. We need to be focused and ready to play.
“We just need to hit,” continued Kreiser. “We’re not hitting at all. It’s our biggest struggle. I’m hoping we’ll be ready to go for the for the second half of the season.”
Northern Lebanon collected a total of four hits, but never more than one in any inning. The Vikings got a runner as far as third base twice, but each time it was with two outs,
In the third, senior Paige Stuppy ripped a triple to left field. And in the fourth, Briana Gibson reached third on a double and a wild pitch.
“I thought she did a very good job,” said Kreiser of McGee. “She didn’t struggle at all. We need more confidence when we go into the box. I think that’s a mind game. It’s something we really need to focus on.
“If you play against a better caliber team, you get better,” Kreiser continued. “We need to become one unit and play as a team. We have too many identities.”
Manheim Central assumed a 1-0 lead in the top of the opening frame on a bases-loaded walk, then tacked on two more in the third. Three Baron hits and two Viking errors later and it was 3-0.
Central pushed their advantage to 4-0 in the fourth inning.
“She struggled or we wouldn’t have taken her out in the end,” said Kreiser of his starter and daughter, Jessica. “We just need to pitch better. It makes it tough.
“One of the biggest things we’re missing is our senior pitcher, Emily Marko,” continued Kreiser. “Her father passed away just recently. We didn’t pursue her. We just gave her space. That’s more important than games. But I think we have a lot to look forward to in the future. We just need to jell.
Thanks to walks and hit-batsmen, the Barons scored seven runs on just two hits in the top of the seventh. The first nine Central batters in the frame reached base.
After the first out was recorded on a liner to third base, two Baron runners intentionally left their base before a pitch was released, and were subsequently called out. It was an unorthodox way of shortening the game through mercy – or pity.
“I respect Manheim Central,” said Kreiser. “That was professional of them. They were a class act, and that’s important. They deserved to win.
“What would I like to see?,” added Kreiser. “I’d like to see unity. I’d like to see everyone jump on the bandwagon. It’s hard to take something positive from today. What we need to decide is: Are we here to play ball? That’s my opinion.”