BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – A team can’t get to where the Annville-Cleona baseball club currently is without having some things go right. And when things have gone wrong for the Little Dutchmen, they have sometimes turned out right.
On Friday afternoon, senior Robbie Beidler’s sharp single through a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Annville-Cleona to an exhilarating 4-3 triumph over Pequea Valley. Beidler’s single on the first pitch of his at-bat came with the bases loaded and one out, after the Braves had tied the game at three with two runs in the top of the seventh against tiring A-C starter Colton Long.
Mitch Rodkey, Zach Southall and C. Long had set the stage for Beidler to play hero with two singles and an intentional free pass. Then going up to the plate with aggression in his heart, Beidler hacked at the first good pitch he saw and drove it under the diving second-baseman’s glove, easily scoring Rokdey with the winning run from third.
“Our guys did what they needed to do in the bottom of the seventh inning,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Scott Shyda of Beidler and the other seniors. “After leaving six runner on base in the first two innings, he did what we didn’t do earlier in the game. He did what seniors need to do.
“We got a couple of runs early,” Shyda continued, “but any time you’re leaving six runners on base, you’re not taking advantage of those opportunities as much as you should. We’ve had a lot of opportunities this year, and struggled with them at times. But after the game, one of our assistant coaches talked about how our seniors came through for us in that last inning.”
With the win, Annville-Cleona improved to 9-6 overall and 8-5 in Section Four of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, and remained tied for first place with Lancaster Catholic in the loss column – A-C has two games in hand. The loss dropped Pequea Valley to 4-12 on the year and 4-10 in the section.
Earlier in the spring, back on April 10, the Braves had handed Annville-Cleona its worst defeat of the season, in the form of a 16-1 three-inning drubbing in Kinzers.
“We do have some big games coming up,” said Shyda of his club’s three remaining Section Four tilts and one non-league game. “The kids are excited. The kids are confident. To us, it’s all about districts. If we win the section, that’d be icing on the cake.
“Our eyes are focused on districts,” added Shyda. “A win against a Class AAA team at this time of the year is huge. And if we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, we want to have some momentum. It was a good win, against a good program.”
Beidler’s base knock also made a deserved winner out of C. Long.
C. Long had carried a three-hitter and a 3-1 lead into the top of the seventh, before surrendering a double, a walk and a single that loaded the bases. The powerful righthander was on the verge of working his way out of trouble, before yielding a two-out walk and a single that knotted the score.
C. Long finished with four strikeouts and three walks.
“Colton did pitch a great game,” said Shyda. “We had two guys ready to go. His key is just mixing things up. He has nice movement on his ball. That’s his game, keeping batter off balance.
“No, I never considered taking him out,” Shyda continued. “I love his mentality. Even when things aren’t going well, he doesn’t let things get to him. It’s a ‘bulldog’ mentality. No one is tougher on him than he is.”
The Little Dutchmen did strand six runners on base in their first two at-bats. But they also scored three runs – two of which were earned – on just two hits.
Annville-Cleona struck first in the bottom of the first, as Southall walked, moved to second on a free pass to Rodkey and scored on a Brave throwing error.
Then in the second, the Little Dutchmen made it 3-0, with a couple of two-out runs. Hunter Long singled, Southall singled and Rodkey walked, before C. Long and Justin Ulrich drew RBI free passes.
“We’ve had some things go right this season,” said Shyda. “And we’ve had some things go wrong. We’ve had a lot of good things happen. But they’re all positives right now.
“To this point, I’d consider the season very successful,” continued Shyda. “Right now, we’re in first place. I think the kids have played very well. And we’re on track to continue playing well.”
Pequea Valley broke up C. Long’s shutout bid with an unearned run in the top of the sixth. The Braves parlayed two A-C errors, a walk and a sacrifice fly into a 3-1 deficit.
“We still haven’t figured out what happened in that first game with them,” said Shyda of the Braves. “Nine walks, two hit-by-pitches, things just got away from us and then they snowballed. We didn’t know we were going to win today. But we knew it would be a different outcome.”
Class AA Power Rankings
RANK SCHOOL NAME POWER RATING
1 Delone Catholic (12-3-0) 0.665357
2 Berks Catholic (10-6-0) 0.605159
3 Susquenita (9-4-0) 0.604178 0.689922
4 Upper Dauphin Area (10-2-0) 0.592821
5 Camp Hill (9-4-0) 0.59108
6 Trinity (7-5-0) 0.575822
7 Annville Cleona (8-6-0) 0.531676
8 Tulpehocken (9-7-0) 0.519794
9 Biglerville (6-6-0) 0.475011
10 Halifax Area (6-4-0) 0.437713
11 Brandywine Heights Area (6-9-0) 0.435924
12 Hanover (5-9-0) 0.423593
13 Kutztown Area (4-10-0) 0.386068
14 Lancaster Mennonite (4-11-0) 0.382935
15 Columbia (3-12-0) 0.320281
16 Schuylkill Valley (1-15-0) 0.301307
17 Fairfield (1-11-0) 0.278082