Seventh-inning rally boosts the Barons

By on March 29, 2017
Manheim Central’s Jake Novak gets pumped up while scoring the go-ahead run on Tyler Simon’s RBI base hit in the seventh inning against Conestoga Valley on Monday. The Barons went on to win 9-3. Photo by Alan Johnson

Manheim Central’s Jake Novak gets pumped up while scoring the go-ahead run on Tyler Simon’s RBI base hit in the seventh inning against Conestoga Valley on Monday. The Barons went on to win 9-3. Photo by Alan Johnson

Tyler Simon caught the pitch from Conestoga Valley’s Dominic Schlager slightly off the end of his bat on Monday afternoon.

No matter, though.

Manheim Central’s two-hole hitter still got plenty of Schlager’s heater to drive a single to left-center.

And Simon’s two-run hit opened the floodgates on the Barons’ eight-run outburst in the top of the seventh inning, helping Manheim Central erase a 3-1 deficit and rally for a 9-3 win in their non-league opener in Witmer.

“It wasn’t flying as fast as it (could have been),” Simon said of his single on a 2-1 fastball away, “but it was high enough to get past the shortstop.”

It was that same shortstop, Addison Dienner, who robbed Simon in the third inning, snagging a hard-hit ball up the middle and turning a double play.

But not this time.

“Coach (Matt Huber) gave us a good talk (prior to the inning), he said, ‘Let’s hit, let’s get rolling,’ and we were like, ‘You know what? We’re coming back.’” recalled Simon, who also started on the hill and pitched five solid innings in a no-decision.

The win sheds a much different light on the start of the season from a year ago, when the Barons found themselves trying to dig out of an 0-5 hole.

“The first one is always the toughest one to get,” Huber said, “and it should just be a huge confidence boost for our guys.”

The bottom of MC’s order gave their team a big confidence boost in the top of the seventh off of CV reliever Logan Andrew, loading the bases with no outs when Taylor Rohrer was hit by a pitch, Tyler Lyons reached on a fielding error, and Jake Novak legged out an infield single to deep short.

“They got us started and we just finished for them,” Simon said.

Rohrer scored when Drew Mummau’s fly to right-center was dropped, and then Simon laced his two-run single to left-center, putting MC up 4-3.

The Barons weren’t done there.

After Nate Loser singled to right, clean-up hitter Tyler Lutz and Bryce Eberly delivered RBI hits. Brandon Fisher was plunked by a pitch, then Rohrer added an RBI single and Eberly scored on the play when the ball was misplayed in right — one of four errors in the inning by CV — making it 8-3.

Rohrer scored the Barons’ final run of the inning, crossing the plate on an errant throw from Buckskin catcher Luke Trainer on Novak’s fielder’s choice.

“I was walking down to third base and I turned around and saw our senior captains with our team in the huddle,” Huber recalled. “Right then and there, you saw the leadership and you saw the energy, and even though we were down 3-1, we knew we had three outs to go. But to capitalize and make it actually happen … I couldn’t be prouder of them for not giving up and for putting the ball in play and putting pressure on their defense, some things we didn’t do last year and we see the results here and we’re reaping the rewards of a win.”

Lefty Bryce Eberly pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief, with one K, for the decision, and then Mummau recorded the final three outs, getting Andrew looking on strikes for the final out.

Buckskins’ right-hander Trevor High suffered the tough-luck no-decision, surrendering only one run on four in five innings, with three Ks and two walks.

Although the Barons put their leadoff batter on base in three straight innings, High was aided by a pair of double plays from his defense.

“Credit their defense, credit High for making the pitch,” Huber said, “and two double plays turned to end innings were just momentum-killers for us.”

Simon did his part on the mound as well, mixing a fastball and curve while throwing 51 pitches to keep his team in the game. He retired the first four batters he faced before Gavin Horning doubled to left-center and scored on an MC error following Keegan Martin’s single to left, putting the Buckskins up 1-0 in the second inning.

In the third, Andrew was hit by a pitch and scored on Trainer’s opposite-field RBI double to left.

The Barons got one back in the fourth, when Lutz scored on Fisher’s RBI ground out to short, and then CV added an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to pull in front 3-1.

But Simon, who had two Ks and one walk, retired six of the final seven batters he faced before handing the ball to Eberly out of the ‘pen.

“Fabulous,” Huber said of Simon’s effort. “Five innings and 50 pitches, very efficient. Then Eberly came in and did his job and Drew came in and closed the door … If our starting pitchers are going to hold them to two runs, we’ll take that all season long.”

Ditto their never-say-die attitude.

“I think that’s the tone that was set today,” Huber said. “I’m privileged to coach a team like that and so is my staff.”

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