With just a handful games left this summer, the Bears Blue baseball team needed to pick up some victories to ensure a spot in the postseason for the Lancaster County Midget Baseball League. Slowly but surely, that’s becoming a reality. Bears Blue first hosted Strasburg Willow Street of Lampeter-Strasburg on Wednesday, July 11. SWS opened up the game with a double from Aaron Snyder, who immediately came home on an RBI single from Derek Eckman. Dylan Byler then doubled to bring in Eckman and then scored himself on a triple from Hunter Cunningham. Nevin Book doubled to plate Cunningham, later coming in on a throwing error. Finally, courtesy runner Caleb Guyer came in on a sacrifice grounder from Taso Kovack, putting the score at 6-0 after the top of the first.
SWS scored again in the second when Snyder came home on another sacrifice grounder, this time from Cunningham. Snyder got another run in the fourth on a fielding error as well, then hit an RBI single in the fifth to plate Braedon Karpathios, rounding out the scoring for SWS.
Meanwhile, Bears Blue struggled to take advantage of scoring opportunities. They left runners in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings. Only a sacrifice bunt from Westin Kolaric with the bases loaded to score Tyler Masters gave them a run in the final inning, too late to mount a comeback. As a result, SWS walked away with a 9-1 win.
Byler was strong on the mound for SWS, pitching four innings and allowing just 3 hits and no runs. He also struck out 3 Bears Blue batters, though he did walk 5 as well. Karpathios came in for the final three innings, getting 4 strikeouts and yielding the lone Bears Blue run. Cunningham had a game-high 2 RBIs for SWS, while Snyder scored three times. Eckman led the team with 3 hits.
Bears Blue had just four hits in total, split between Aidan Masters, Tyler Masters, Josh Kreider and Hunter Stewart. The latter had a double. Josh Kreider got the start at pitcher, lasting three innings and allowing 6 hits and 7 runs, 4 of them earned. Zach Malone and Anthony Russo split the last four innings evenly, with the former allowing 3 hits and 2 runs, and the latter letting up 2 hits and no runs.
The team then went on the road to face Manheim Township on Monday, July 16. Bears Blue broke the game open in the top of the second. Josh Kreider singled and was replaced by courtesy runner Kolaric, who reached second on a wild pitch and then scored on an RBI single from Jace Bock. Aidan Masters brought home Bock on another single, followed by another RBI single from Nick Kreider to plate both Aidan and Tyler Masters to give Bears Blue a 4-0 lead.
In the third, Bock drew a walk and Russo got him
to third on a double. Aidan Masters then plated both on another single to put the score at 6-0. Manheim Township finally answered in the fourth, with Connor Vucovich and Jake Schaefer both hitting RBI singles to score Collin Arms and Will Greiner, though Vucovich was tagged out trying to reach third to end the inning.
Aidan Masters got another run on the board for Bears Blue in the fifth, coming home on an RBI single from Kyle Welch. In the bottom frame, Ben DeMarco doubled and scored when Colin Yablonski hit into a double play with the bases loaded and no outs. Both Tyler and Aidan Masters got RBIs for Bears Blue in the sixth, the former on a sacrifice fly to plate Kolaric, and the latter on another single to bring in Bock.
Jake Black came in on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh to give Bears Blue a 10-3 cushion. Another De-Marco double brought home Vucovich in the bottom of the inning, but Manheim Township couldn’t do anything else, letting Bears Blue walk away with a huge 10-4 win.
Nick Kreider pitched 5 1/3 innings, striking out 8 batters and allowing 4 hits, 4 walks and 3 runs, with only one being earned. Aidan Masters got the rest of the time on the mound, yielding 2 hits and an earned run while getting 2 strikeouts.
Aidan Masters also had 4 RBIs, by far the most of any Bears Blue player in a game this season, and reached first base in all five of his at-bats. Bock did as well, leading all players in runs with 3. Both players had 3 singles. Nick Kreider added 2 RBIs and 2 singles as well. Bock, Welch and Tyler Masters each had an RBI, while Kolaric and Aidan Masters scored twice. The team as a whole had 12 hits, its highest total in a game this summer.
Manheim Township had to use five different pitchers during the course of the game. Yablonski started the first 1 1/3 innings, striking out 4 batters but also letting up 4 runs. DeMarco came in to get the final out of the second, then left in favor of Schaefer, who allowed 2 runs in the third. Kyle Donton entered in the fourth, allowing 3 runs before being replaced for the rest of the game by Caden Brubaker for the remainder of the game. DeMarco and Vucovich led Manheim Township in hits with 2 each. Both had RBIs along with Schaefer and Yablonski.
Bears Blue can potentially clinch a playoff berth with a win in either of their final two games, which are both at home: Octorara on Wednesday, July 18, and Lancaster (McCaskey) on Monday, July 23. They can also get in with a Conestoga Valley loss to Hempfield Black on Wednesday, July 18.
Lancaster is currently ranked ninth in the schoolleague as of Tuesday, July 17, one spot belowBears Blue at eighth; both teams would currentlyqualify for the LNP Tournament, which will begin on Wednesday, July 25, with two play-in games between the eighth and ninth seeds, as well as the seventh seed against the winner of the community league.