Elizabethtown Bears varsity baseball head coach Bill Templin enjoys each time his team wins. In the case of his team’s most recent win, though, Templin admitted he might have drawn things up differently.
The win came on Monday, May 15, when the Bears defeated the Manheim Central Barons by the score of 13-9 in the quarterfinal round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League baseball playoffs. With the win, the squad advanced to play the Lancaster Catholic Crusaders on the evening of Tuesday, May 16.
Templin described the matchup as “a lot of fun” and said no one on his team expected the game — which was delayed from its scheduled time on Saturday, May 13, by rain — to go the way it did.
“Our ace pitched,” Templin said. “Their ace pitched. Neither made it out of the fifth (inning).”
In the game, the Bears and the Barons traded RBIs through the game’s first four innings. In the first inning, each squad plated two runs after both starting pitchers worked themselves into bases-loaded situations and had to labor to escape the jams. Elizabethtown then plated three runs in the bottom of the second to take a 5-2 lead that became a 7-7 tie two frames later.
“Everybody realized their pitcher didn’t quite have it and (starting pitcher Nick Stoner) didn’t quite have it, so we needed to score some runs,” Templin said.
Runs came in droves for the Bears in the fifth inning. After holding the Barons scoreless in the top half of the inning — the only time the Bears did so — Elizabethtown rallied to bring six baserunners around to touch home plate.
Key to the rally was a sequence in which outfielder Justin Shelley hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded. The throw to home plate was off line, allowing the Bears to plate two runs. Elizabethtown followed the error with two RBI singles and capped the inning with a two-run double by first baseman/pitcher Chad Caley.
“I was very pleased with the way the kids played and the way they battled through everything and the way they kept fighting,” Templin said.
Templin credited his team’s approach at the plate for their offensive success, especially their adaptation to the umpire’s strike zone.
“After the second inning, we really started harping on the guys that the strike zone was small, and we needed to use that,” Templin said. “We started being selective, and we got some guys on base. We talked about having a patient approach, getting ahead in the count, and putting the ball in play.”
The rally gave Elizabethtown an 13-7 advantage that they wouldn’t relinquish, though Templin admitted he was concerned about recording the game’s remaining outs when his team took their 13-7 lead into the seventh inning, based on how the game had progressed.
“At that point, I was like ‘Oh, I don’t know if that’s enough,’” Templin said. “We were scoring runs in bunches as were they.”
Fortunately, Chad Caley (who recorded the win in addition to his double) and reliever Cole Patrick combined to pitch three quality innings for Elizabethtown, surrendering only two earned runs on three hits while issuing a pair of walks.
Templin credited his team for adjusting quickly to the unexpected course of the game, and for battling back even when their opponent scored seven runs in four innings.
“It’s baseball,” Templin said. “Some days you could hit the ball right on the screws and someone catches it. Today wasn’t that day.”
Asked how earning a League playoff win in just his second season as head coach, Templin said he was elated.
“From a coaching perspective, I couldn’t be more happy,” Templin said. “This game will serve us well going forward. When the kids start to believe that, then things can happen.”
Templin also credited his team for their confidence and determination despite being short on league playoff experience.
“They’re in it to win the whole thing,” Templin said. “If we come up short, they will be disappointed. But if we come up short they’ll use it as motivation for the district playoffs.”
At press time, the Bears were in the midst of their semifinal matchup with the Lancaster Catholic Crusaders at War Memorial Field at Ephrata High School.