BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – Is the going still early in local scholastic baseball circuits? For some teams it’s later than others.
On Thursday afternoon, a compacted spring season got a little shorter for the Northern Lebanon baseball team. In the make-up of an earlier postponement, the Donegal Indians pounded out 11 hits and overwhelmed the Vikings 10-2.
Northern Lebanon did its offensive work early against Indian starter Justin Amspaher, who seemed to get stronger as his outing went along. Meanwhile the Indian clubs heated up in the top of the fourth, when Donegal gained control of the outcome.
The setback dropped Northern Lebanon, which was without the services of injured senior catcher Drew Bene, to 3-4 on the spring and 2-3 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. Donegal moved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the section.
“It seems like it’s early because we’ve only been outside for a week and a half,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Daryl Hess. “It’s hard to say. It’s April 10th, and April 1st was the first time we were out on our field. It has that early feel. There’s still things popping up like, ‘hey we’ve got fix that’.
“But we’re all in the same spot,” continued Hess. “Everyone is just trying to do the best they can. It’s been an especially tough spring. It’s spring baseball in the Northeast.”
The Vikings grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
David Brooks ignited the uprising with a one-out single, and teammate Wyatt Beakler followed with a ringing RBI-double. After an Ian Whitman single, Beakler came around to score on Jon Walizer’s RBI grounder.
“I thought we hit the ball better,” said Hess. “We struggled against Elco (Wednesday), I thought we hit the ball hard when we hit it, especially early. We got after it pretty good. We were aggressive in the zone. I don’t think we chased bad balls. I thought we made better contact tonight than last night. Sometimes you’ve just got to credit the other pitcher.
“I don’t think we’re playing that bad of ball,” Hess continued. “They (the Indians) came out and hit us. If we go out of here booting the ball and making mistakes, I’d be disappointed. But I’m not seeing it that way.”
After the first, Amspaher limited Northern Lebanon to four hits the rest of the way. He fanned a total of nine Vikings, walked two and didn’t allow a runner past second base over the last six frames.
“I thought he had nice velocity,” said Hess of Amspaher. “He threw the ball well and he kept the ball down. He placed it well.”
The Indians sliced their deficit in half with an unearned run in the second. Then in the fourth, they really got to Viking starter Jordan Nichols, for three runs – courtesy of Sam Lazowski’s two-run triple – to take a 4-2 lead.
“He did a nice job,” said Hess of Nichols. “One pitch hurt him. The lefty went down and got a change-up, and hit it hard. I thought the pitch was in a good spot. We just ran into a good team today, and they hit some of our good pitches.
“This is our third game in-a-row, and we play tomorrow,” Hess continued. “I’ve been pleased with our pitching. It’s good we’re deep. And the defense has been solid as well.”
The Indians opened their lead to 8-2 in the top of the fifth. Amspaher slammed a three-run ding dong to the deepest part of the field, in center.
“Our goal is always to do the best we can in the section,” said Hess. “We have some crossover games coming up, and hopefully we can put ourselves in a good spot for our section games the second time around.
“I think our section is balanced,” added Hess. “Every team is beating every team. It can go either way every time you walk on the field. It’s always a tough section. It’s good baseball.”
Donegal rounded out its scoring with two insurance tallies in the top of the seventh.
“We’ve lost some close ones,” said Hes. “Would I want to be 6-1? Absolutely. But I’m not disappointed. I think we’re playing well.”
Beakler collected three of Northern Lebanon’s seven base knocks.