Bears Blue continued to dominate the Lancaster County Midget Baseball League with a resounding 14-0 victory over Cocalico at Denver Park.
The win on Monday, June 5, moved Coach Bill Templin’s team to 3-0 on the season and they have yet to concede a run. Templin’s team opened the season with a 4-0 win over Donegal and followed that performance with a 12-0 win over Conestoga Valley.
Michael Baker toed the rubber for Bears Blue and was called upon to preserve the team’s scoreless innings streak. He did so in dominant fashion.
After the Bears went down 1-2-3 in the first inning, Baker matched with a strikeout, groundout and lineout to complete the first inning.
The strikeout came via Baker’s curveball which proved to be an effective pitch the entire game.
“Recently, I’ve been able to control my curve a lot more,” Baker said. “Changing up my grip and bringing my wrist down a little bit quicker,” is what he credits with the increased control.
Coach Templin spoke to his team about the need to make adjustments after seeing the opposing pitcher in the first inning.
“We needed to cheat up in the batter’s box a little bit. Thinking about hitting the ball to the right side and keeping our hands back,” Templin said.
The Bears’ half of the second inning opened with a single by Kyle Welch through the left side of the infield. First baseman Nick Kreider and second baseman Zach Barner each followed with ringing doubles to open the scoring for the game.
Kevin Gamber and Luke Adams each produced an RBI single in their opening at-bats.
Following a groundout and hit-by-pitch, shortstop Austin Denlinger launched a 2-RBI double to the warning track to push the sixth and seventh runs of the inning across.
The long half-inning did not negatively impact Baker as he made quick work of the middle of the Cocalico lineup. The lead-off man of the inning was retired on a groundout, followed by a weak popup to the first baseman and a strikeout to end the second inning.
Bears Blue was unable to string together anything meaningful in their half of the third inning. The only runner to reach base was Kevin Gamber on a single.
Baker induced another popup to open the bottom half of the third inning and struck out the second batter of the inning. A single by Hunter Keller ended a streak of eight-in-a-row set down by Baker to open the game. He quickly recovered to strike out the final batter of the frame.
Bears Blue pushed two more across on a Denlinger triple and Richie Hart double. Then, with a man on third and one out, Welch squared up a 1-1 pitch that found the glove of the Cocalico left fielder, Nathaniel Trostle, who made a phenomenal play to throw out a tagging Hart at the plate.
Ian Martin was the only batter to reach against Baker in Cocalico’s half of the inning with an infield single.
The first five Bears Blue batters in the fifth inning reached and all came around to score. Kreider drew a walk, Barner tripled, Gamber reached on an error, Adams drew a walk and Anthony Funk drove in two with a double.
With 14 runs on the board, coach Templin turned to Hunter Murry to record the final three outs of the game.
Murry did so in quick order by inducing two groundballs and a game-ending strikeout.
Baker struckout four in as many innings and allowed two hits. Murry’s final line included one strikeout and no hits.
Baker’s ability to get ahead in the count and to throw all of his pitches for strikes consistenly was a major reasons that he was so effective.
“He didn’t throw many balls,” Templin said. “If he threw 15 balls, I’d be surprised. We really talked about getting ahead and staying ahead.”
“I always want to get quick outs; that way I can throw as little pitches as possible,” Baker said.
Denlinger and Barner were tied for the team-lead in RBI with three each.
“I’ve been working hard in practice lately just trying to get my swing right because I couldn’t really get it down in school. Timing was always my real big issue,” Denlinger said.
“I changed up my swing to a little toe touch and that really helped me with staying back and trying to drive it to right field.”