Donegal capitalizes early, holds on to beat MC 6-2

By on March 27, 2019
Manheim Central’s Jade Trovinger rounds first base on her fifth-inning triple to left field against Donegal on Tuesday. Photo by Dennis Bicksler

Manheim Central’s Jade Trovinger rounds first base on her fifth-inning triple to left field against Donegal on Tuesday. Photo by Dennis Bicksler

Manheim Central opened the new season Tuesday just like it ended the last one.

That is, playing L-L rival Donegal.

Last May, the Indians defeated the Barons 2-1 in a District Three 5A fifth-place game with a berth to the PIAA State playoffs on the line.

This time, in both teams’ Section Three opener, Donegal broke out to a 4-0 lead through three innings, capitalizing on a couple of Baron errors, and held on to beat Manheim Central 6-2 in Manheim.

“We were a little lethargic to start,” Baron coach Gary Lefever said. “Definitely, that hurt us. I mean, look at the first four runs they scored, I’d say that zero of those were earned. So if you go earned runs to earned runs, maybe it’s a 3-2 ball game.”

Manheim Central’s offense showed positive signs following its first time through the order against Donegal ace Sierra Neiss, finishing with four hits and getting some hard-hit outs.

But Neiss, who struck out nine and walked three, pitched a perfect seventh to close the door.

“I like our offense,” Lefever said. “One through nine, we’ve got a lot of youth, but we’ve got some freshmen that are exceptional in my mind. Offensively, I thought we did well today against probably one of the top three or four (pitchers) in the league. So I’m pleased with our offense so far.”

Although MC worked leadoff walks to start the first and second innings, Neiss faced the minimum number of batters through three after Indians’ catcher Morgan Biesecker threw out two would-be base stealers.

Meanwhile, Baron junior Jordan Walter pitched a scoreless first, but then a leadoff double to right-center by Neiss (3-for-4) started a two-run rally for Donegal in the top of the second. Following Summer Steffy’s infield base hit, courtesy runner Lydia Miller scored on a Baron fielding error on Cheyene Lievelsberger’s ground ball. Aysha Gibbs’ two-out RBI single plated the Indians’ second run.

Gibbs and Madeline Gohn each finished with two hits to help lead Donegal’s 12-hit attack.

In the third, Biesecker reached on a fielding error to start things. Later, Steph Reider’s RBI single to center and Steffy’s RBI ground out made it 4-0.

Then back-to-back bunt hits in the fifth by Donegal’s Emma Miller and Gibbs, followed by a passed ball, led to Biesecker’s RBI ground out to shortstop, extending the Indians’ lead to 5-0 before Walter ended the frame with two K’s.

Overall, Walter punched out six and walked one.

Manheim Central eventually got its first base hit when first baseman Gabby Wettig slugged a leadoff double to left in the bottom of the fourth.

“I really do think we put good swings on Sierra Neiss, all in all, across the lineup,” Lefever said. “We didn’t hit everything we wanted to, but we hit some balls hard. We hit them on all sides of the diamond, so I was pleased with that.”

After Emma Damon walked with one out, Wettig scored on the back end of a double steal, making it 5-1. Mackenzie Martzall’s two-out bunt single brought the potential tying run to the on-deck circle, but Neiss escaped further trouble with a strikeout.

The Barons answered with another run in the fifth on Jade Trovinger’s sharply-hit triple down the left-field line and Maddie Moyer’s RBI ground out, cutting the Indians’ lead to 5-2.

But a two-out rally by Donegal in the sixth, capped by Gohn’s RBI single to left, made the climb a little bit tougher for the Barons, pushing the Indians’ advantage back to 6-2.

Manheim Central had one more base runner, on Codi Bollinger’s sixth-inning leadoff single to left, but it wasn’t meant to be for the Barons.

“We tried, we chipped away,” Lefever said. “That last run (Donegal) scored was a little bit sour for us, but I don’t think it took the wind out of our sails. I told (the players), ‘The difference in this game, if you look at earned runs to earned runs, it’s a 3-2 game. That puts a little pep in your step if you’re 3-2 in the sixth or seventh inning.’ Unfortunately, they scored four runs on us early and most of it was because we came out too lethargic.”

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