The Elizabethtown Area High School baseball team had a shot to clinch a Lancaster- Lebanon League playoff berth on Monday, May 7. Just a day later, the Bears’ season was over.
Before then, however, Elizabethtown hosted Solanco on Wednesday, May 2, coming away with a 7-2 victory. The Bears had the bulk of their scoring come in the middle innings. They scored three in the third off an error, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly from senior Austin Denlinger. RBIs from juniors Hunter Murry and Cole Livingston added two more in the fourth, while juniors Cole Patrick and Larry Locker each had RBI singles in the fifth.
Patrick and fellow junior Nick Kreider each had 2 hits to lead the team. All 7 runs came from different players. Patrick also started at pitcher, throwing six scoreless innings, striking out 4 batters and allowing just a single hit before letting up two runs in the top of the seventh on bases loaded walks. Junior Michael Baker came in to get the final two outs.
The lone Solanco hit came via junior Dawson Kreider. Senior Gabe Horn pitched the first half of the game, allowing 5 runs and 6 hits. Sophomore Mike May went the rest of the way, giving up 2 runs and 4 hits.
The Bears then traveled to Donegal on Friday, May 4, getting dominated 11-1 in five innings. The Indians opened up the game with 8 runs in the bottom of the first and were able to pick up three more in the fourth and fifth to force the mercy rule.
Elizabethtown had just two hits as a team, both of which came in the second when Kreider singled and later came home on another from Patrick. Senior Chad Caley got the start on the mound, lasting just two outs and allowing 5 earned runs before being replaced by Locker, who played through the beginning of the fifth. Baker came in during the same inning.
Donegal was lights out at the plate on their Senior Day, and their prospective graduates were the main catalysts on offense. Senior Patrick Beaudoin led the way with 3 RBIs. Fellow seniors Dale Houser and Elijah Myers had 2. All three tied for the team lead in hits with 2, alongside seniors Kyle Hess and Seiler Edwards. Senior Andrew Erb had a complete game at pitcher for Donegal, striking out 4 batters in the process.
On Monday, May 7, Elizabethtown hosted Lampeter-Strasburg. The winner would seize second place in Section Two to earn a trip to the L-L League playoffs. It was extremely close early on, with the two teams tied at 2-2 through the fourth inning. However, the Pioneers scored a run in both the sixth and seventh to escape with a 4-2 win, knocking the Bears out of league playoff contention.
Denlinger had 3 of Elizabethtown’s 5 hits and scored both of their runs. The RBIs went to Caley and fellow senior Ryan Rupp. Patrick pitched a complete game, allowing 8 hits and striking out 5 batters, though he did allow 3 earned runs.
Lampeter-Strasburg’s RBIs were split between senior Josh Howells, junior Nevin Book, junior Hunter Cunningham and senior Kris Pirozzi. The former’s scored the go-head run in the sixth, while the latter’s was an inside- the-park home run in the seventh. Pirozzi led the team with 3 hits, also taking over on the mound for Howells midway through the third, throwing 8 strikeouts and allowing just one hit.
Elizabethtown played its final game of the year at Central York on Tuesday, May 8, which was moved up a day from Wednesday, May 9. The Bears struck early, with Denlinger coming home on an RBI single from Caley in the top of the first. The Panthers responded in the third, loading the bases and getting an RBI single from junior Landon Ness and a bases loaded walk.
The top of the fifth swung the momentum in Elizabethtown’s favor. Rupp hit an RBI single to tie the game, which was then followed by a grand slam from Caley. That put the score at 6-2.
Central York didn’t back down though, narrowing the gap to 6-5 in the bottom half of the inning with two RBI singles from senior Jordan King and junior Ben Peterson. In the bottom of the seventh, with one out and the bases loaded, junior Ryan Pepler knocked a single into right field to give the Panthers a 7-6 win. The loss officially knocked Elizabethtown out of District 3 playoff contention, ending their season with a record of 10-10.
“We didn’t expect it to end this early,” head coach Bill Templin said. “I feel like this game was like a microcosm of our whole season. We started well; we were in it, but a couple of things here and there… I don’t know if they hit one ball hard today. A bloop single behind third base scores two runs. Even the ball that ended the game was a single.”
Peterson and Pepler each had 2 RBIs for Central York. Senior Colin Young had 2 runs, also getting the win in relief on the pitcher’s mound. Ness started the game, going five innings and striking out 7 batters.
Caley’s 5 RBIs paced Elizabethtown’s offense, later replacing Locker at pitcher for the final two innings. He and seven other seniors (Denlinger, Rupp, Cayden Livingston, Solen Clark, Anthony Funk, Richie Hart and Zach Barner) will exit the team following graduation.
“I’ll have fond memories of this senior class forever,” Templin said. “I’ll miss them. They’re not just baseball players; they’re good kids. I’ll miss seeing them in the hallway. I’m gonna miss seeing them at practice just to talk and chat. They’re a big and talented class for our baseball program. They’ve given everything they’ve had to the team, and I can’t ask for more than that.”
The remaining members of the team are all juniors (Cole Livingston, Kreider, Patrick, Locker, Baker, Hunter Murry and Kyle Welch). There will be a lot of new blood come next season. First comes the offseason, which Elizabethtown is already preparing for.
“We’ll start summer ball in two weeks,” Templin said. “Juniors on down will be involved. Come October, we’ll hit the weight room and ramp up from there.”