Bucher pitches Barons to win over Crusaders
Andrew Bucher is more than just an ace for Manheim Central.
The senior right-hander has also been setting the bar for the rest of the Barons’ pitching staff this spring.
On Monday, he did so again.
Bucher improved his record to 5-0 while tossing a complete-game three-hit shutout and leading the Barons in a 3-0 win over reigning L-L League champ Lancaster Catholic in a Section Three-Four crossover in Manheim.
His 10 K’s marked a single-season high, giving him 37 for the spring.
“In the third or fourth inning, Andrew just really hit his groove,” Barons’ coach Matt Huber said. “He was really able to locate his fastball and that was his main ingredient and then he was able to mix in the curve ball. But he was just really able to work counts in his favor and throw a lot of strikes and pitch to contact.”
Ben Bomberger certainly made some nice contact in the bottom of the fifth, ripping a two-run homer to left field and turning a 1-0 Central lead into a 3-0 cushion. That was all Bucher needed, helping the Barons improve to 7-2 in Section Three (9-2 overall). They remained a half-game behind first place Donegal (9-1 L-L, 10-3 overall) in their efforts to bring a Section title to Manheim for the first time since 1994.
“Lancaster Catholic is a quality program and we were definitely pleased to get a big win,” Huber remarked, “and we’re really excited for all of our games the next two weeks.”
Manheim Central was also excited to break the ice in the fourth inning of a scoreless pitcher’s dual between Bucher and the Crusaders’ Brian McBrearty. After Colin Fry earned one of McBrearty’s two walks, Blake Reiff singled and Fry eventually scored on an error to make it 1-0.
It remained that way, as Bucher whiffed six straight at one point and then pitched out of trouble in the sixth with an inning-ending twin-killer.
“Our other pitchers see what he’s able to do and they gain confidence off of him and they want to have a similar outing to give our team a chance to win the game,” Huber said.
The Barons knew they had a real good chance to win the game when Bomberger launched his two-out, two-run shot, driving in JJ Sanchez, who walked, ahead of him.
“At the time, it was a 1-0 game and both teams were playing really well, both pitchers were pitching great,” Huber said. “To enable us to get a little separation and breathing room I think just helped us to relax a little bit and able to focus on defense.”
Having Bucher on the mound no doubt helped the Barons relax a little bit as well, setting the tone for a pitching staff which has also gotten innings this spring from Cole Bernhardt, Tanner Fahnestock, Blake Reiff and Dan Wiederrecht.
Bucher’s five wins to date have also helped soften the blow of not having Fry available to pitch this season. A year ago, Fry recorded four wins in 26@-E innings for the Barons.
“He had a solid junior season last year, so as we were looking to this year, we figured he would be a nice arm that we would be able to rely on,” Huber said. “I think here at the midpoint, our pitchers are really starting to fit into some roles which ahs been nice.”
Last Thursday, Bomberger was 2-for-2 with two walks, a double and three RBI’s, helping the Barons defeat Lancaster Mennonite 8-1 in a Section Three-Four crossover in Lancaster.
Manheim Central led only 1-0 through four innings, but then pulled away with three in the fifth and three more in the sixth behind pitchers Fahnestock and Wiederrecht. Fahnestock pitched six innings for the win, scattering five hits while striking out four and walking three. Wiederrecht closed it out by pitching the seventh.
Reiff finished 2-for-4 with two RBI’s and a run scored off of four LMH pitchers.
Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4451.