Barons overcome early deficit, top Panthers 13-9 in Districts

By on May 20, 2015
Manheim Central pitcher Tanner Fahnestock (second from right) huddles with his catcher Skylar Wilson (far right) and the rest of his infield at the mound in the District playoffs on Monday. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Manheim Central pitcher Tanner Fahnestock (second from right) huddles with his catcher Skylar Wilson (far right) and the rest of his infield at the mound in the District playoffs on Monday. (Photo by Stan Hall)

When East Pennsboro jumped out to a 5-0 first-inning lead on Monday afternoon, Manheim Central probably had thoughts of its L-L League semi-final playoff game last week.

In that affair, Penn Manor bolted to a 6-0 edge in the opening frame and cruised to a 14-0 five-inning victory over the Barons.

This time, though, would be different for Central.

MC quickly began to chip away. And ultimately, the Barons, led by a 4-for-4, five-RBI day by senior shortstop Blake Reiff, pounded out 13 hits off of Panthers’ pitchers Drew Miller and Connor Yoder.

It was enough for 6th-seeded Manheim Central to earn a wild 13-9 win over the 11th-seeded Panthers in a District Three Triple-A first-round playoff baseball game in Manheim. The game was halted &tstr; and ruled official &tstr; after six innings due to rain and lightning.

“We didn’t appreciate losing that game (to Penn Manor), obviously, but it was a learning experience of when we get down, what we need to do this time compared to last time,” Barons’ skipper Matt Huber said.

The victory sends Manheim Central (18-6) to Thursday’s quarterfinal-round to face the winner between 3rd-seeded West York (16-4) and No. 14 Daniel Boone (11-10), whose game was suspended on Monday.

For the Barons, it didn’t hurt their cause that they had eight seniors in the starting lineup against East Penn.

“It was one of those pre-games where, as a coach, you don’t have to say a lot,” Huber said, “because the moment speaks for itself … ‘You made Districts, you’re the sixth seed, it’s your last game on your home field that you’ve played on for four years.’ And it was just about letting the players take it all in and they performed and they didn’t give up.”

It might have been easy to do so after the Panthers (13-7) scored five runs in their first hacks off of MC starting pitcher Tanner Fahnestock. Jordan McAllister’s grand slam over the fence in left field highlighted East Pennsboro’s early eruption.

But senior Dan Wiederrecht had a key at-bat off of EP lefty Drew Miller, working a walk, and Reiff got the Barons on the board with an RBI base hit.

“You could just see everyone (thinking), ‘Alright, we can do this,’ and it just caught on,” Huber said. “We talked about just trying to chip away, chip away, chip away, and sure enough we ended up breaking through about halfway through the game.”

They got another jolt of momentum with three runs in the second inning, with four of the Panthers’ five errors paving the way for Mitchell Shenk (2-for-4), Skylar Wilson and Peter Breit to cross the plate, and Reiff’s RBI single cut East Pennsboro’s lead to 5-4.

“(Blake) came up big,” Huber said. “You could just the look in his eyes today, it was a playoff game, he was excited just to hit the ball and be on the field. He’s a senior that knew it was his last game on our field and wasn’t going to go down with a loss.”

Following two more shutdown innings from Fahnestock, the Barons grabbed a lead they never relinquished with a four-run rally off of Miller in the fourth. Fahnestock helped his own cause with an RBI base hit and Kevin Starner (2-for-5, 2 RBI’s) added a run-scoring single in the inning. Starner and pinch-runner Brandon Fisher both scored when Brenden Good reached on a throwing error.

Leading 8-5 entering the fifth, Manheim Central tacked on four insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth. Frank Bowman (2-for-5, 2 runs) delivered a two-run base hit and Reiff added an RBI single off of Yoder, as the Barons extended their advantage to 12-5.

Fahnestock settled in after the first inning and got the decision, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and four walks. He finished with one K.

“Things just got a little chaotic (in the first),” Huber said. “It was a big game and I think both sides felt the pressure the first three innings and then when we got a run (in the bottom of the first) and three runs in the second inning, he knew his offense was there to play for him today. Again, he’s another senior that wasn’t going to lose his last game on that mound.”

The Panthers clawed back to 12-9 with four runs in the top of the sixth, courtesy of an RBI single by Zach Wertz, a sacrifice fly from Grayson Miller and two Baron errors. But Wiederrecht closed out the inning in relief and then Reiff’s RBI base hit in the bottom of the sixth drove in Bowman, who singled, to give the Barons a 13-9 edge.

There would be no further scoring, as storms halted play in the top of the seventh, and the Barons punched their ticket to the District quarterfinals.

“They were ecstatic, they were keeping everything in perspective,” Huber said of his players. “It was a team goal from day one to make it to Districts and get a District win. They earned a home game as a six seed and they did what you’re supposed to do on your home field in Districts and that’s win.”

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