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First-place Barons shut down the Pioneers, 3-1
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Manheim Central closer Trey Eberly was put on alert in the fifth inning on Monday.
"I pretty much told Trey about the fifth inning, ‘Just make sure you’re loose and ready to go,’" Manheim Central skipper Jason Thompson said, "and that I had no problem throwing him three innings if I had to."
The senior right-hander ended up getting the call to the mound with one out in the top of the sixth. With the bases loaded, no less.
His job was to protect a two-run lead in a first-place showdown against fellow Section Three contender Lampeter-Strasburg.
Eberly left the bases loaded and went on to earn a five-out save in relief of winning pitcher Andrew Bucher, as the Barons grabbed sole possession of first place with a 3-1 victory in Manheim.
"It was a boost to our guys confidence-wise," Thompson said of Eberly’s sixth-inning hold. "But I don’t think they even blinked an eye knowing that Trey was coming into the game. That’s his role and he’s thriving on it right now. They’re definitely confident in him, as I am as well."
With the victory, in the first of four games this week, Manheim Central improved to 4-0 in league play (5-0 overall). L-S and Donegal are tied for second at 3-1.
"It’s definitely a big win," Thompson said. "It puts us in control of the Section by ourselves. Donegal and L-S are a game behind and they play each other Wednesday, so it was a big game as far as having people chase us instead of us chasing."
On Monday, the Barons were chasing L-S after the Pioneers’ Regan Hershey singled and later scored a Manheim Central throwing error to make it 1-0.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the third, when Central reached Pioneers’ starter Cameron Enck for all three of its runs. Blake Reiff hit a leadoff single and beat the Pioneers’ throw to second on Dan Wiederrecht’s bunt. Both runners scored when L-S made an errant throw on Ben Bomberger’s sacrifice bunt. Bomberger advanced to third on J.J. Sanchez’s sac and scored on a passed ball.
"We executed three perfect bunts in the inning," Thompson said.
In the fifth, Bomberger (3-for-3), who had three of Central five hits in the game, stroked a one-out double, but was stranded.
Bucher and Eberly were able to protect the two-run lead over the final four frames. Bucher limited the Pioneers to just two hits, while striking out three and walking two while throwing just 68 pitches in 5 1/3 innings.
"Bucher threw well," Thompson said.
Then after Eberly pitched out of the jam in the sixth, he struck out the side in order in the top of the seventh to earn his third save.
"It was a good game to watch and the execution part we had in the third inning was huge." Thompson said. "Our defense and pitching have just been phenomenal so far. I look for my starters to get me four or five innings knowing that I’ve got Trey to go to in a close game and I know he’s going to get the job done."
Last Friday, the Barons broke open a close game with a three-run third inning and went on to defeat Norlebco 10-1 in Manheim.
Bucher was 2-for-4 with a double and Eberly, Colin Fry and Sanchez all chipped in with two hits behind winning pitcher Skyler Munoz, who struck out four and walked two.
Josh Flanagan added a pinch-hit, two-run single in the sixth as the Barons added three insurance runs. Blake Reiff pitched the final inning to close the door.
Last Wednesday, April 3, pitcher Andrew Bucher allowed just one run in five innings and helped his own cause by going 2-for-3 at the plate in a 7-1 Section Three win over Donegal in Mount Joy. He struck out eight and walked four.
Ben Bomberger chipped in with a two-run double off of Donegal starting pitcher Justin Amspacher as the Barons took a 5-1 lead through three innings and never looked back. More BARONS, page B-3