MOUNT JOY- Donegal (2-2) took advantage of Wednesday’s game with Manheim Central (3-1) being moved to their home turf and was able to grind out a gritty 3-2 victory.
“There is a long history with Donegal/Manheim Central baseball. Each team is going to scratch and do whatever it takes to win the game,” Donegal coach Chris Miller said. “It shows a lot of resiliency in a team that just keeps battling. You get an opportunity and you try to put one across. It was an excellent game and both sides played a really great game today.”
The Indians set the tone early when Connor Bowers smacked an RBI single in the bottom of the first that brought home leadoff batter Austin Mellinger who was walked. The Indians then loaded the bases but were unable to bring in any more runs in the inning.
“That’s happened a couple times to us this year. That’s part of the game and that just shows the quality of baseball here,” Martin said. “It’d be nice to get a base hit in that situation but you can’t get hung up on that.”
The Indians struck again in the bottom of the second when Adam Kolenda scored on a Ryan Myers double. Derek Mohr also tried to score on the play but was gunned down at the plate.
Mohr was 2-for-3 in the game with two singles.
The Indians roughed up Barons starter Tanner Fahnestock who allowed four hits and two walks in just two innings pitched. Cole Bernhardt would go the rest of the way for Manheim Central; allowing just two hits but walking five in five innings.
Junior Camren Ney was able to go the distance for Donegal and racked up eight strikeouts while allowing ten hits and just one walk.
“That was his first start. He’s actually our starting catcher,” Martin said. “He’s a gamer and our gut feeling was that he is going to keep the game close and that’s all we asked out of him.”
“I just needed to throw strikes,” Ney said. “Coach said to get ahead in the count and that’s what I tried to do.”
Ney was under the most pressure in the top of the fourth when Manheim Central’s Andrew Bucher scored on a throwing error and Josh Flanagan roped a double into the gap to score Damon Crouse and tie the game.
“I knew we were hitting the ball well so I knew we’d come back at some point,” Ney said. “I just had to stay calm and get back out there.”
Ney popped the next two batters up to stop the Barons rally.
Flanagan, Dan Wiederrecht and Colin Fry all had two hits for the Barons on Wednesday.
Though it was his first start, Ney admitted that he really didn’t have a game plan coming in and was relying on what was working for him to determine what approach to take.
“It all depends on how I’m feeling. Today I was feeling my curveball so I was throwing a lot more of them and then went to the fastball of changeup to throw them off,” he said.
Still tied heading into the bottom of the sixth, Donegal found their spark when Mellinger hit what proved to be a game-winning single to score Austin Martinez. Also trying to score on the play was Mohr but he was ultimately thrown out at the plate again.
“He’s (Mellinger) our senior leader. He’s a three-year varsity starter and he’s the kid who relishes that opportunity,” Martin said. “It was exciting to see him have the opportunity and pull through.”
Manheim Central went three up, three down in the top of the seventh to conclude the game.
“It’s one game and we got a tough one tomorrow. It’s nice to win a baseball game but you have to come out and play every day,” Martin said. “I’m excited for the season and these guys are going to give it everything everyday.
Donegal next plays at Garden Spot on Thursday while Manheim Central will travel to Northern Lebanon on Friday.