Sitting at 2-2 on the season, the Elizabethtown Area High School baseball team was looking to get above .500 during its recent slate of games. While the Bears got off to a good start, they ultimately ended up with mixed results.
The team went on the road to face Lebanon on Wednesday, April 3, holding on for an 8-6 victory. The Bears got things going early in the top of the first by scoring 3 runs; senior Cole Patrick nailed a two-out RBI single to bring in fellow senior Cole Livingston, then came home alongside senior Kyle Welch on another single from sophomore Jake Black.
Junior Zach Malone added another run in the second, opening with a leadoff walk, advancing to second and third on a steal and wild pitch, then finally crossing home plate after senior Luke Adams got an RBI off a misplayed ball at shortstop. Elizabethtown later increased the score to 7-0 in the top of the fourth following an error that plated junior Matthew Ramsey and sophomore courtesy runner Westin Kolaric and a sacrifice fly from senior Nick Kreider that brought home Livingston.
Kreider was electric on the mound through the first three innings for the Bears as well, striking out 6 Lebanon batters and getting out of a couple of jams. However, the Cedars came alive in the bottom of the fourth, utilizing bunts to get players on base. One came with the bases loaded from junior Derrick Perez to score fellow junior Albert Rodriguez.
Junior Raylin Pena then nailed a double to yield two more runs. Senior Luis Pena followed that up with an RBI single to score one. Kreider exited after walking the bases loaded, and senior Luis Pinales took advantage, beating out a throw to first that ended up allowing two more Lebanon runs. All of a sudden, Elizabethtown was clinging to a narrow 7-6 lead.
The Bears responded by loading the bases themselves, with Ramsey coming through with an RBI single. Senior pitcher Michael Baker shut down the Cedars in the fifth and sixth, and in the bottom of the seventh, Patrick came on to close things down. While he allowed a leadoff walk, he then got an out on a sacrifice bunt and struck out the last two batters to get the save.
Livingston and Black each had 2 RBIs to lead Elizabethtown. The former had a game-high 2 runs, while the latter had 2 hits, as did Welch. Kreider allowed 8 hits, 6 earned runs, 3 hit-by-pitches and 2 walks on the mound but was able to get the win thanks to Baker and Patrick combining to allow just one hit and strike out 4 batters.
Luis Pena shared the team lead in hits for Lebanon with junior Nate Portes and sophomore Julien Coleman. Pinales and Raylin Pena each had 2 RBIs. The latter pitched the first four innings, allowing 4 hits, 4 earned runs and 4 walks while striking out 3 batters. Senior Raymond Colon went the rest of the way, giving up 4 hits and an earned run.
Elizabethtown returned home on Monday, April 8, for a game against Manheim Township. The Blue Streaks scored early in the top of the first with two outs; senior Colin Yablonski doubled to score sophomore Ryan Jones, then came home on a single from sophomore Kyle Musser, giving his team a 2-0 advantage.
Sophomore Colin Fitzgerald added another run for Manheim Township in the second after singling, advancing to third on a passed ball and wild pitch and finally coming in on a single from sophomore Drew Sassaman. Elizabethtown got on the board during the bottom of the fourth after Kreider doubled, got to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Patrick sacrifice fly, cutting the Township lead to 3-1.
However, the Bears were unable to do anything else the rest of the game. They left two baserunners stranded during the sixth and went down in order in the bottom of the seventh. Thus, the Blue Streaks escaped with the victory.
Fitzgerald and Sassaman had 2 hits each to lead Manheim Township. Junior Connor Vucovich went six innings on the mound, striking out 7 batters and allowing 5 hits, plus the lone Elizabethtown run. Senior Will Greiner pitched the seventh inning.
Kreider and Black combined to get 4 of the Bears’ 5 hits. Patrick started the game at pitcher, going six innings, allowing 7 hits and 3 runs (2 earned) and striking out 7 batters. Baker came on during the final inning as well.
Finally, Elizabethtown had an away matchup at Ephrata on Tuesday, April 9, postponed from its previous date of Friday, April 5. The game ended up getting delayed shortly after the start when one of Kreider’s backswings caught the home-plate umpire on the left side of the head, injuring him and necessitating a replacement. That would turn out to be a bad omen for the Bears.
The Mounts were able to get a run on the board in the first after sophomore Zach Musser got hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a grounder and scored after two wild pitches. They got another in the second during a wacky sequence with runners on the corner; the Bears actually caught the runner at first in a pickle but their throw home to get senior Justin Brubaker was late.
Senior Zac McGillan added another run in the third after tripling and scoring on a single from junior Jackson Conover. Elizabethtown finally answered in the top of the fifth, with senior Javan Thomas hitting an RBI single to plate sophomore courtesy runner Cael Brandt. However, the Bears could not tie the game in the sixth after getting two runners on with walks.
Ephrata took advantage, plating three more runs in bases-loaded scenarios with a flyball to center and a failed turn to get a double play. The Bears got runners to the corners in the top of the seventh but couldn’t score any runs, giving the Mounts a 6-1 win.
McGillan finished with a game-high 2 hits and 2 RBIs for Ephrata. Senior Owen Gockley faced all but one batter on the mound, allowing 6 hits, 4 walks and a run while striking out 7 batters. Senior Billy Been came on in relief to get the final out.
Kreider lasted five innings at pitcher for the Bears, allowing 6 hits, 4 walks and 3 earned runs in addition to 6 strikeouts. He was also one of six players to get a hit, the others being Welch, Thomas, Ramsey, Black and senior Hunter Murry.
Now at 3-4 on the year, the Bears were scheduled to have away games at Penn Manor on Wednesday, April 10, and Hempfield on Friday, April 12. They’ll return home to face Cedar Crest on Monday, April 15.