Vikings edge the Barons in battle for L-L berth

By on May 8, 2019
Emma Damon slides safely into third base during a Manheim Central rally in the Barons’ win over ELCO last Wednesday night. Photo by Alan Johnson 

Emma Damon slides safely into third base during a Manheim Central rally in the Barons’ win over ELCO last Wednesday night. Photo by Alan Johnson

Hindsight is always 20/20.

But given what Manheim Central coach Gary Lefever saw when he had to make his decision, he had no other option.

That’s why Lefever held Baron base runner Jade Trovinger at third base in the sixth inning last Friday.

If he had known Northern Lebanon center fielder Autumn Bohr was going to overthrow the catcher, it would have been a different story.

“I’m an aggressive coach, I’ve always been as far as base running,” Lefever said. “But I’ve got to watch the ball, and if (Bohr) bobbles it, (Jade) is going automatically. She fielded it perfectly clean.”

Ultimately, the Vikings survived that scare and went on to take the inside track for the second and final L-L League playoff berth in Section Three, beating Manheim Central 2-1 in Manheim.

As of deadline, Northern Lebanon (13-3 L-L, 15-3 overall) was a half-game ahead of the Barons (13-4, 14-5). In Wednesday’s final day of the regular season, the Vikings were slated to play at Garden Spot, while MC was due to play at Octorara.

“We’re going to root for Garden Spot. That’s our only way into the L-Ls, I think,” said Lefever, whose Barons are 14th in the current District Three 5A power ratings. The top 16 finishers advance.

In this game, a two-out two-run double by Vikings’ shortstop Sydney Mengel in the top of the sixth was the difference in the game.

The Barons had their opportunities, but stranded eight runners on base against Northern Lebanon right-hander Emma Kelliher.

“We just couldn’t get the timely hit,” Lefever said.

Neither could the Vikings off of Baron junior righty Jordan Walter, who surrendered only two hits through the first five innings.

One of those hits was a leadoff single in the top of the third by Kelliher, who went to second on Baylee Madilia’s sacrifice and third on Bohr’s comebacker. Walter then struck out Summer Bohr on a 2-2 change-up to end the threat.

For the game, Walter — who was battling allergies and feeling less than 100 percent — ended up whiffing five, walking none and yielding five hits.

“Jordan was very sick today,” Lefever said, “and I told her I thought it’s one of the best outings she’s had as far as control. She might not have had the 14 strikeouts like she’s had against some other teams, but she pitched well, she placed it well and she kept (Northern Lebanon) off-balance.”

The Barons broke through for the game’s first run in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Mackenzie Martzall singled to center, stole second and went to third on Emma Damon’s infield hit. Then with Maddy Moyer at the plate, Martzall scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0.

It stayed that way until the sixth when the Vikings played small ball, getting back-to-back bunt singles by Madilia and leadoff batter Autum Bohr.

“They made a lot of (bunt) attempts up and down the order from what I recall the entire game,” Lefever said. “They were on the defensive at that point, needed to find a way to get on and they did.”

Still, Walter retired the next two batters, with Madilia and Bohr still standing at first and second.

“We were virtually out of it,” Lefever said.

But Mengel was next and the Vikings’ clean-up hitter doubled just inside the left field foul line, driving in two, to put Norlebco in front 2-1.

“Even if you go back to last year, the girls that are on this squad for the Vikings, they were just a year younger,” Lefever said. “They basically have the same squad. They’re good. They’re a pesky team. They did what they had to do and they got the timely hit and that was the difference.”

A two-out rally by Manheim Central loaded the bases off of Kelliher in the bottom of the sixth, as Trovinger singled, Damon walked and Moyer singled. But Kelliher escaped on a hard-hit grounder to third baseman Summer Bohr.

“(Kelliher) hits her spots well,” Lefever said. “Good hitting speed, but she’s very good at spinning the ball. We had a couple pop-ups, a couple weak grounders.”

In the bottom of the seventh, Kelliher retired Manheim Central in order to secure the Vikings win.

“We’re not done. We need a little bit of help,” Lefever said. “We’re going to hope.”

***

Last Wednesday, Walter smashed a three-run homer and tossed a complete-game one-hitter, leading the Barons to a 10-0 six-inning shutout of Cocalico in a Section Three game in Manheim.

Walter struck out 14 and walked just two in the complete-game masterpiece.

In all, Manheim Central collected 11 hits off of Eagles’ pitcher Kyle Armstrong. Trovinger had a three-run double in the Barons’ third-inning rally when they took a 6-0 lead.

Maddy Barbush was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, Codi Bollinger went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and walk, and Gabby Wetting chipped in with two hits and two runs.

***

The Barons were also in action last Tuesday, April 30, beating ELCO 10-0 in five innings in a Section Three game in Myerstown.

Wettig, Miranda Ober, and Sage Schreffler all had RBI base hits in Manheim Central’s five-run fifth inning, helping the Barons invoke the 10-run rule.

Wettig chipped in with a 3-for-3 day with a sacrifice fly, RBI double and two runs scored in support of Walter, who struck out five and walked none for the win. Wettig also got the final three outs in relief to clinch it.

Bollinger and Trovinger each contributed to the offense by going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

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