PALMYRA – In baseball lingo, it’s known as ‘tacking on’ or ‘adding on’. It’s a tactical practice that’s just effective for runs as it is for victories.
It’s about momentum, opportunity and taking what the other guy gives you. Tacking on runs can lead to triumphs, and adding on wins can produced titles.
On a super sunny day at Palmyra High School’s OAL Sports Complex, the Cougars kept their momentum rolling by tacking on, during a 14-4, six-inning demolition of Bishop McDevitt, in a showdown for the top spot in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. Taking advantage of a total of 17 walks and hit-batsmen, the opportunistic Cougars scored in each of their six at-bats and needed just seven hits to score their 14 runs.
Mason Kepler’s long sacrifice fly to center field with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning scored teammate Jacob Deimling with the winning run.
The victory was Palmyra’s seventh in its last eight outings and vaulted it to 7-3 on the spring and 6-2 in the Keystone Division. The result also created a tie atop the Keystone standings with the Cougars and Bishop McDevitt, now 7-4 overall and 6-2 in the division.
Back on March 31 in Harrisburg, the Crusaders had shaded Palmyra 11-9.
In the latest District Three Class AAAAA power rankings, Palmyra was situated 12th.
“We didn’t play well against them the first time we played them,” said Palmyra head coach Neil Weber of the Crusaders. “We’re always focused, but the boys had a little extra for them today. They were at the top of the league, and we came ready to play. It’s high school baseball. You want to get better every day.
“Today, I was proud of the way we played,” added Weber. “It’s just a focus. We have a great bunch of young men. They want to increase their baseball IQs and be good teammates.”
After Kepler’s RBI-double in the bottom of the first inning had staked the Cougars to a 1-0 lead, the home team tacked on four more in the second. During that particular rally, Deimling, Evan Seigfried and Kepler, again, contributed RBIs, while Gavin Neal stole home.
“If you give hitters free passes, it always seems like it comes back to haunt you,” said Weber. “That’s part of our game. Our approach at the plate is to try to be disciplined and not chase pitches. Fortunately for us, they (the Crusaders) gave us free passes.
“I thought early in the game, we were fairly aggressive,” Weber continued. “We sort of took what the opposing pitcher gave us. When you have base runners consistently, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense. Today, we had opportunities and the boys executed.”
Cougar starting pitcher Nick Lafoe was the beneficiary of all that opportunistic offense. He enjoyed a solid outing, going all six innings, whiffing six and walking one.
Lafoe only really ran into trouble once. That was in the top of the third, when Bishop McDevitt strung together a walk, a hit-batsman and a couple of RBI-hits to pull to within 5-4 of the lead.
“Nick pitched an excellent ball game,” said Weber. “As he gets more starts under his belt, he’s learned to make adjustments. I thought he kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win it.
“What I’m looking for from a starting pitcher is getting outs and throwing strikes,” continued Weber. “And what type of swings are the opponents’ batters getting off of him? Is he keeping his composure?”
With momentum hanging in the balance, the Cougars plated an important run in the bottom of the third inning, without the benefit of a hit. After walking and moving up on a grounder, Neal stole home for the second time, to push Palmyra’s advantage to 6-4.
Siegfried and Thomas Zeigler drove home teammates in the bottom of the fourth, before Palmyra batted around and scored five times in the fifth. The Cougars did it with only one hit – a Deimling double – but Gage Miller, Siegfried, Zeigler and Isaac Kleinfelter were all credited with RBIs.
“We’re getting better,” said Weber. “But we’re nowhere near where we need to be as a team. We want to continue to get more comfortable in pressure situations. This is a great group of kids. They’re embracing each and every day.”
|2021-03-31||A||vs||Bishop McDevitt (3)(3)||L||9-11|
|2021-04-05||H||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||15-0|
|2021-04-26||H||vs||Bishop McDevitt (3)(3)||W||14-4|
|2021-04-28||A||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||0-0|
|8||Spring Grove Area||7-||3-||0||0.686134||0.776190||0.576064||8.15||125.15||2.35||92.10|