MYERSTOWN - Waiting out two days of rain must have built up a lot of frustration for the Northern Lebanon baseball team as the Vikings pulled up at Lyle Krall Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Led by Jordan Seltzer's 3-for-3 game that included a home run, a double, a pair of runs scored and four RBIs, the Vikings handed Elco a 14-2, five-inning drubbing. The win secured second place in Section Three of the Lebanon-Lancaster League and the spot in the league's playoffs that go with it.
Now at 11-5 in league play and 14-6 overall, Northern Lebanon will meet Section One champ Hempfield on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Ephrata's War Memorial Field. Meanwhile, the loss dropped Elco to 6-10 in the section and 9-10 overall.
Sending 11 batters to the plate in the second and third innings when they scored five runs in each, the Vikings closed it out with a nine-batter, four-run fifth. Overall for the Raiders, it was a case of too many walks (8), errors (3) and hit batters (4) that gave the visitors numerous scoring opportunities.
Seltzer's leadoff homer that just cleared the 360-foot sign in left started the second-frame explosion against Elco sophomore starter Jake Stager, who exited after 1 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on four hits. Zane Walizer and Drew Bene also had RBI singles during that uprising.
"I didn't think it was going out and was expecting to stay on second until I saw the umpire signal it was out," Seltzer admitted. "It was a 2-0 pitch, and I was definitely looking fastball, and he put it right there for me. After that I just wanted to forget about it and go out and put a good swing on the ball to hit it somewhere.
"Coach explained before the game how important it was since Garden Spot lost Monday, we just needed to win to get into the league playoffs and then districts.
Adam Shoemaker, who replaced Stager, walked the first two batters in the third, then an error scored a run and another came in on a passed ball. Seltzer ripped a two-out, two-run single, and Brad Kreiser followed with an RBI safety to make it 10-0.
Elco finally got to Lucas Gienow in the bottom of the third for two runs. He issued a one-out free pass, Stager singled and Chris Kreider slammed a two-out double to break up the shutout. Those would be the only hits the lefty would surrender.
"I'm definitely glad we got this one out of the way pretty quick," Gienow said with a big smile. "I felt very comfortable with everything working pretty good and I just wanted to let the guys make the outs.
Superdock was responsible for the four tallies in the fifth when six of the nine batters he faced reached base. Seltzer drove in his fourth run, Dresch stroked a two-run double and Zach Miller's hit chased in the final score.
"The thing I liked about the game is that we came out aggressive against a team that's been playing very well lately," Viking coach Daryl Hess pointed out. "I was glad we scored early, and by doing that it loosened us up a bit especially after the Donegal loss where we didn't hit at all. After not scoring in the first, Seltzer's homer was big and got us started.
"They helped us out putting guys on base with the walks and errors, but then we did a nice job of getting them in. I was concerned that after we got the big lead we might walk some, but Lucas stayed around the plate and made them put the ball in play. In the one inning he only needed four pitches to get the outs and that certainly helped him."
Gienow hit a batter but got the final two outs on a grounder and fly ball.
"We had won six of our last eight, but we beat ourselves tonight," Elco coach Chris Weidner sighed. "This was one of, if not the worst, games of the season. I was really hoping we'd give them more of a game. They capitalized on the mistakes we made.
"The pitchers were behind on almost every count, and you can't do that against a good-hitting team like Northern Lebanon has. The plus is we play Conrad Weiser tomorrow and have a chance to finish at .500 hopefully. In my 14 years, we've only been under that once, so that's our goal now."