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Barons’ slump continues in 3-1 loss to Donegal Baseball
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Two weeks ago, the Manheim Central baseball team controlled its own destiny in the Section Three race.
Things have turned quickly, however.
With their 3-1 loss to Section-leading Donegal in Manheim on Tuesday, the Barons fell to 1-4 in their past four games. Manheim Central (9-4 L-L, 11-5 overall) now finds itself three games off the pace behind the Indians and two back of L-S for the Section’s final L-L League playoff berth with just three games left in the regular season.
"The guys just have to keep working," MC skipper Jason Thompson said. "(Wednesday) were back out in a game, so we don’t have much choice. I told them, ‘Baseball is probably one of the toughest mental sports out there, if not the toughest.’ It’s going to be a matter of who’s mentally tough and (who’s) going to get the job done."
For the Barons, that means finding a way to reverse the offensive slump that they are currently enduring. In their past four losses, Central has scored just seven total runs. The only exception in the Barons’ recent stretch of games was a 17-7 win over Pequea Valley last Wednesday, April 24.
Facing Indians’ pitcher Michael Houseal on Tuesday, the Barons outhit Donegal 7-3, but couldn’t get the timely hits in key situations.
"Houseal is pretty good. Prior to that, it’s us," Thompson said of the offensive struggles. "Although he’s a pretty darn good pitcher, I think it’s us today too. I don’t think (Houseal)’s overpowering by any means. He pounds the zone – that’s all he does. So it’s on us right now."
J.J. Sanchez’s one-out RBI double drove in Trey Eberly in the bottom of the second off Houseal to give MC a 1-0 lead. Barons’ starter Colin Fry made that lead stand up through three, but on a day when he issued six walks, a leadoff free pass to Austin Martinez came back to haunt him when Conner Bowers followed with a game-tying double to left field.
Then in the fifth, Dylan Houseal led off for the Indians, turned on a 1-0 pitch and hit a go-ahead homer to left field. Dalton Garrett then worked a walk, stole second and scored on Michael Houseal’s long single to right center, making the score 3-1. Fry pitched five innings and suffered the loss before Trey Eberly finished up in relief.
"I think (Colin) walked six today, which is uncharacteristic," Thompson said. "Eventually those walks are going to get you. I talk to our pitchers about those being pitching freebies."
Central threatened in the fifth on Damon Crouse’s base hit, followed by Dan Wiederrecht’s sacrifice, and they put a runner in scoring position in the sixth courtesy of Blake Reiff’s one-out double to left-center, but Houseal escaped further trouble both times while notching the complete-game win. He struck out three and walked none.
"That’s been (our offense) the last week and a half," Thompson said. "We hit the ball, but not when we really, truly need it."
Last Saturday, Palmyra took a 4-0 lead and held on to defeat Manheim Central 4-2 in a non-league game in Manheim. Crouse and Ben Bomberger had two hits apiece in the loss.
In Section Three action on Friday, ELCO scored five runs in the second inning to go up 6-0 and the Raiders cruised to an 11-2 win in Myerstown.
In other action last Wednesday, April 25, Colin Fry was 4-for-5 with two RBI’s and notched his third win of the season, while Ben Bomberger finished 3-for-5 with two doubles and six RBI’s, leading Manheim Central to a 17-7 six-inning win over Section Four co-leader Pequea Valley.
Bomberger also scored four times and Trey Eberly went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI’s, in addition to earning the save by pitching 2 1/3 innings in relief Fry.
Manheim Central jumped on top 5-0 in the first inning, and then the Braves came back to make it 5-4 and 9-7. But the Barons erupted for an eight-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning to put it away.
Blake Reiff added two hits, including a home run and three RBI’s to the Barons’ 17-hit onslaught.
More BARONS, page B-6