Lebanon baseball holds off Northern Lebanon in 3-2 nailbiter
There's a call made to meet on the mound with the bases loaded, no outs and a go-ahead run looming at home plate.
Leading 3-0 and having worked the six-plus prior innings, the pitcher, Lebanon's Cody Kissinger, knows what's to come now once his coach completes his incoming stroll. But it's not a curtain call.
Only a few words and then the coach's lonely return to a dugout. Kissinger, first of all, knows better than to expect a hook. And his coach, Mike Toomey, knows this: "At that point, I'd have to pry the ball out of his hand," he said.
Thankfully for the Cedars, Toomey didn't.
Generating an ensuing pop out, fielder's choice and fly to center, Kissinger preserved a 3-2 Lebanon win Tuesday in a chilly Section Three opener against Northern Lebanon. Kissinger and Michael Deleon triggered the Cedars' only RBIs, each recorded in a breakout third inning that also included an unearned run. Vikings pitcher Isaac Wengert went the distance, matching Kissinger's three hits allowed.
Lebanon (3-2, 1-0 Section Three) won its second straight and first over Northern Lebanon since 2013, while the Vikings (2-2, 0-1) have now lost two in a row.
"I was really hitting the outside corner and just couldn't miss for a while," Kissinger said. "It means a lot to start section play with a win and a win over a good team. It feels completely different when it's section because you know one game could come down to anything."
While the Cedars' triumph largely rested on Kissinger's shoulders, an equal credit was due to their defense, as told by only two strikeouts. Snaring nearly every ball launched from the batter's box, Lebanon held their in-county foe to one hit entering the seventh, a harmless, two-out Michigan Daub single in the second.
"He kept us off balance, threw to contact and their defense was great," Northern Lebanon coach Daryl Hess said. "When you get the combination of all that, you're going to be successful. And they were today."
Daub later knocked in the first Northern Lebanon run on a bases-loaded liner to left, before Zach Seltzer's fielder's choice guided in another two at-bats later. However, the ground ball also yielded a second out, leaving the Vikings' last hopes in the batting gloves of their No. 9 hitter, Hunter Voight, who was promptly retired like so many teammates before him.
"Cody knew he was going to have to pitch to contact," Toomey said. "Northern Lebanon is such a great hitting team that he knew he was going to have to move the ball around and trust his defense to make plays."
Trust. Much like the same faith his coach moments earlier had shown in him.