Missed opportunities costly for MC in State playoff loss

By on June 10, 2015

 

Manheim Central didn’t have much time to come down from the emotional high of winning its State playoff opener behind Blake Reiff’s no-hitter.

Still, despite returning to the diamond just one day later, Barons’ skipper Matt Huber believed that his players were ready to go.

Unfortunately for Central, though, it wasn’t to be.

Abington Heights left-hander Zach Manasek struck out 10 batters and the District Two champion Comets took command with a five-run second-inning rally, leading them to a 6-1 win last Thursday in the PIAA Class AAA quarter-finals at Wenger Field in Fredericksburg.

The Barons (20-9) had the bases loaded with two outs in the third and sixth innings, but came up empty both times against Manasek, who surrendered six hits, walked four, and hit two batters while throwing 129 pitches in the complete-game outing.

Overall, MC was just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 on base.

“We had our opportunities, we had runners on base, we followed the game plan that was in all year,” Huber said. “The only thing missing from the formula was plating some runs and timely hitting.”

It didn’t help the Barons’ cause that they also had six errors behind starting pitcher Tanner Fahnestock and relievers Taylor Rohrer and Chad Neely, leading to four unearned runs for the Comets.

“(In the win over Holy Ghost Prep), we played a clean game. You know in State playoff games, there’s not going to be a lot of runs scored,” Huber said. “You want to make them earn (runs), and then to give them a few extra in a game like this … you can’t come back from.”

Having earned its 20th win for the first time since 1993 and its first State victory since 1994, MC was looking to build on their success against the Comets.

Fahnestock pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first, but Abington Heights was able to strike in the top of the second while sending 11 batters to the plate.

They did all their damage with two outs, starting with Manasek’s RBI triple which drove in Matt McDonald, who singled to deep short. Jimmy Fayocavitz followed with an RBI single to right, two more runs scored on a double error by MC, Zach Campbell added an RBI single to left-center and Tyler Ksiazek had a run-scoring double to left.

The Barons were in position to chip into the Comets’ lead in the third, as Frank Bowman (2-for-4) singled to right-center, Reiff walked and then Fahnestock was hit by a pitch with two outs, loading the bases. But Manasek escaped by getting one of 10 K’s.

“(Manasek) did a lot up, down, in, out,” Huber said. “He mixed his pitches very well. We got runners on base &tstr; we just couldn’t get a (timely) hit. He bent, but he wouldn’t break … What got us here was timely hitting and we didn’t have it today. For whatever reason, it just didn’t come through.”

Meanwhile, Abington Heights added to its lead in the fourth inning with an unearned run on Colin McCreary’s sacrifice fly.

In the sixth, Brenden Good had a one-out base hit, Skylar Wilson (2-for-4) singled to deep short, Mitchell Shenk hit into a fielder’s choice, and Peter Breit was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Again, however, Manasek wriggled out of trouble, this time with an inning-ending pop out to first base.

“We left some runners on base. Definitely a big difference in the game,” Huber said. “We left the bases loaded twice and had some uncharacteristic errors. In a State PIAA game, you can’t do that.”

Down to their final chance in the seventh inning, the Barons got back-to-back one-out walks from Reiff and Kevin Starner, Reiff scored the Barons’ only run on a Comets’ throwing error on Fahnestock’s infield single to third before Manasek retired the next two batters to end it.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys,” Huber said. “To be playing here June 4th, making it to the Elite Eight, I’m so proud of what they accomplished throughout the year. It’s hard to walk away from this game knowing we left some things on the table. But I couldn’t be around a better group of guys.”

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