No matter how good you are, you can’t win them all. But, as the Elizabethtown Bears baseball has learned, you can still win a lot of them.
The Bears have rebounded convincingly from their two-game losing skid of Monday, April 24, and Wednesday, April 26. They beat visiting Ephrata 6-1 on Friday, April 28. Their game on Saturday, April 29, at Reading was postponed; they beat last-place Conestoga Valley Buckskins on the road by the lopsided score of 9-1 on Monday, May 1, and beat visiting Central York 3-1 on Tuesday, May 2.
“All the kids were talking about was win this game,” Bill Templin, Elizabethtown’s head coach, said of his team’s mentality before first pitch at Conestoga Valley.
The Bears wasted little time taking the lead against the Buckskins. Elizabethtown plated the game’s first run in the top of the second inning — part of a three-run rally in the frame. They went on to score in each of the next two innings, plating one run in the third inning and four runs in the fourth inning to take commanding 8-0 lead they would not come close to surrendering.
“It’s fun to put the lineup together now, because every body’s hitting,” Templin said.
The Bears’ second-inning outburst of offense set the tone for the win. In the inning, the Bears used a mixture of timely hits and productive outs to bring three baserunners across the plate. One key at-bat came from designated hitter Casey Cooper, who bounced a ball into play in front of home play and benefited from a favorable bounce that allowed him to leg out the play for an infield single. A subsequent fielding error and a key single spurred the rally from there.
“We started to put the ball in play,” Templin said of his team’s strategy at the plate.
Elizabethtown’s offense was aided by a second consecutive dominant start from its pitching rotation: Chad Caley pitched six and one-third innings, and allowed one earned run on four hits while issuing just two walks and striking out seven batters.
“Our pitching is by far the strength of our team,” Templin said. “We have three or four guys who are throwing well right now.”
Asked about Caley’s performance against the Buckskins, Templin complimented his starting pitcher’s effort.
“He was on point,” Templin said. “He was sharp. He was hitting his spots.”
In addition to Caley, top performances in the game for the Bears came from outfielder Logan Yohn—who recorded two hits in four at-bats, and batted in two—and Cooper, who recorded three hits in four at-bats, and batted in one.
The Bears went on to beat Central York on Tuesday, May 2, bumping the team’s league win-loss record up to 11-2 (13-2 overall), further cementing their position at the top of the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s Section 2 standings, three games ahead of the second-place Lampeter-Strasburg Pioneers. The Bears’ “magic number” to clinch the Section stands at one game, meaning the next Elizabethtown win or Pioneers loss will decide the Section title race in favor of the Bears.
“I think the confidence in the kids is growing,” Templin said. “We’re done getting there (to the playoffs). We need to win a game or two now. We expect to be successful this year. We expect to do certain things. That mentality is filtering down through the program.”
Templin added that despite their being on the cusp of a title, his team’s approach is still to take things one game at a time, meaning most of their talk is now on the team’s May 3 game against the Solanco Golden Mules.
“All the kids are talking about today is Solanco,” Templin said. “All year we have been focused on is win the next one.”
And depending on the result of that contest, the Bears will also be looking toward an evening matchup with none other than Lampeter-Strasburg.
Asked for his feelings on the game’s potential to decide the Section 2 title race, Templin’s answer was simple: “Hopefully not.”