ANNVILLE- Good luck finding a better first course this spring season than what the Annville-Cleona baseball team has cooked up through two games.
It's going to take you a while.
Twenty-four hours after completing a no-hitter in their season opener, the Little Dutchmen polished off a 10-4 triumph Wednesday over reigning Class A state champion Lancaster County Christian. Senior Alec Barr fired a complete game and rendered the last 18 Lions batters hitless, while Annville-Cleona (2-0) plated the game's final nine runs. Little Dutchmen junior Mitch Long, who threw 117 pitches over 6 2/3 innings of Tuesday's no-no, went 3-4 at the plate with a pair of runs and an RBI.
More than half of Annville-Cleona's starters knocked in a run, none more important than the four that put them ahead in the bottom of the fifth after trailing 4-3.
"When we went down 4-1, coach gathered us together and said not to hang our heads or anything. So we came back out and our defense got better and then it was our bats," Barr said. "We were hitting opposite field and that was helping us get extra-base hits. And when we got the runs, it gave us momentum."
After Barr had been roughed up with the bases loaded in the top of the third, the Little Dutchmen scratched two across in the home half of the fourth, yielding a one-run deficit. While their veteran hurler got rolling on the mound, they continued to pick up steam at the plate, particularly with the exit of Lancaster County Christian starter Kyle Ebersole, who threw a two-hitter in last year's state championship.
"We faced him last year, and we know what he did statistically last year," Annville-Cleona coach Scott Shyda said. "We knew he was going to be tough. We had to put the ball in play because when you put the ball in play anything can happen. And it did."
Now facing Lions reliever Jeremy Brubaker in the fifth, Barr first reached on an error and then came around to score on the first of two consecutive singles, which were later followed by a run-scoring fielder's choice, sac fly and another base hit.
Up 7-4, the Little Dutchmen were far from done, adding three more in the sixth, fueled by sloppy Lancaster County Christian defense and their own aggressive approach.
"We've been hitting every day," Long said. "Coach has been on us about how much potential we have and I think it's getting to our heads. We're really prepared."
Tyler Talhelm finished with a team-high two RBIs out of the No. 8 hole in the Annville-Cleona lineup, as inarguable sign of Shyda's referenced potential as his team's comeback.
"We hope they remember this and what can happen if we don't drop our heads and keep fighting," Shyda said.
And surely, given their hot start, future Little Dutchmen opponents would rather they forget.