BASEBALL: Second inning proves costly for Crest
Bad innings tend to bite harder when it's been a struggle.
For six innings Saturday, Cedar Crest baseball played non-league county rival Palmyra nearly even. But a bad second frame sealed the Falcons' 11th setback in 14 games this spring.
The Cougars scored four runs in the top of the second inning to chase Crest starter Chase Ocker from the hill and record a 5-2 win. Palmyra's victory, its fourth straight, evened its season record at 7-7.
"I'm still looking to get better," Palmyra head coach Tim Gingerich said. "We've won four in a row now, and we've got a tough one on Monday against CD East, which is playing pretty well.
"We could never put three things together. Either we couldn't pitch, we couldn't play defense or we couldn't hit. Now these last four games, we've basically put it all together where we're doing it all well. Any good team, you do those three things, you're going to win a lot of ballgames."
Ocker gave up an unearned solo run in the first when the initial batter of the game, Palmyra's Zach Miller, reached on an infield error and later scored on Bobby Dorta's RBI single to right field.
But it was Palmyra's next at-bat where the wheels came flying off, all with two outs. The Cougars sent 10 batters to the plate and four of them crossed.
Battling control issues, Ocker issued free passes to four batters, including one to Dorta with the bases clogged, which forced home a run to make it 2-0. Evan Hallowell's single scored Dorta. That was followed by Isaac Blatt's two-run double with the bases re-loaded to make it 5-0. Derek Hitz came on in relief.
Hitz steadied the ship, but Falcon bats could not generate enough offense to overcome the hole against a solid effort from Palmyra starter Trevor Gill. Gill went six full to notch the win, giving up two runs on four hits.
Ocker's potent two-seamer had plenty of movement Saturday but went uncorralled.
"I don't think we started the ballgame as well as we could have," Crest head coach Ryan White said. "First inning, lead-off error, came around to score. Second inning, lead-off walk, came around to score. They played well. Gill threw well, made us earn it and we didn't hit as well as we could have. They capitalized on our mistakes. Palmyra's a good team and they're going to do that.
"Hitz did a nice job, kept us in the game. Gave us a chance to scratch out a few runs but we just weren't able to do it."
The Falcons were able to shave the deficit to 5-2 in the bottom of the third. Lead-off batter Nick Gonzalez was plunked by a breaking ball that didn't, moved to second on a ground out and third on an infield single by Wes Wentling with two outs.
Ocker – who moved to third base – followed with a ringing double to plate both base runners. But the rally ended with a fly out to center. It was the last time the Falcons made noise.
Gill ended his day strongly by striking out three of the final four batters he faced, before giving way to Mike Arndt for mop-up.
"Gillie did a good job today," Gingerich said. "He was around the plate. We don't know from each start what we're gonna get. But when we do get the good one he gives us a chance to win. He's got some good stuff."
Palmyra 5, Cedar Crest 2
SO-BB — P: Gill (6 K, 1 BB), Arndt (0 K, 0 BB), CC: Ocker (0 K, 4 BB), Hitz (1 K, 2 BB); W — Gill; L — Ocker; 2B — P: Blatt (1), CC - Ocker (1)