Don't miss this week's GameTimePA.com Top 5 Plays. Video by Lindsey Smith
With the second half of the season in full swing on the diamond around the area, introducing the first installment of the Lebanon County baseball power rankings.
1. Elco Raiders (11-4, 8-4 Section 3)
Picking the No. 1 team in the area right now was a very difficult decision because the Raiders and Dutchmen have both proven to be worthy of that title.
But when it comes down to it, though they’ve had their rough moments, the Raiders arguably have the better depth between the two, and having that advantage this time of the year is crucial, especially on the mound, with this also being the first postseason teams have to juggle the new PIAA pitch count rule.
And as a result offensively, the Raiders have also been more productive, averaging 8.5 runs per game.
2. Annville-Cleona Dutchmen (10-3, 8-3 Section 4)
Having said everything about Elco, one slight advantage A-C has is only committing 19 errors all season (Elco, though has only committed 22 errors). Not giving up extra outs and ultimately runs is also very key this time of the year, and the Dutchmen have done a solid job with that.
This is definitely a team that can make a deep postseason run with talented pitching already intact and protected by that solid defense.
While their hitting hasn't been as productive as Elco’s, it’s still at a respectable 6.5 runs per game. The Dutchmen also proved their hitting can be timely, displayed in one of the biggest wins of year against the aforementioned Raiders, which was a walk-off win in the 10th inning.
It’s also not out of the question for A-C to come back and steal the section crown from first place Lancaster Catholic, just two and a half games out – and a win Monday over the Crusaders obviously wouldn’t hurt. The Dutchmen also earned a big 4-2 win over Manheim Central Friday.
3. Northern Lebanon Vikings (9-6, 6-5 Section 3)
It’s been a frustrating roller-coaster season for the Vikings, who’ve been the definition of a streaky team.
NL began the year with three wins followed by three losses, and have most recently traded winning two and losing two over the last six games.
And often times an inconsistent season is reflected by inconsistent play, which is exactly what the Vikings have done. While hitting the ball well, averaging seven runs per game, it’s been the exact opposite in the field, averaging almost three errors per game.
As NL continues battling for its district playoff life, finding that consistency in the field will be essential.
4. Palmyra Cougars (7-6, 6-3 MPC Keystone)
The Cougars had a little bit of a disadvantage to start the season, having a couple of key pieces come in late due to the boys basketball team’s state playoff run.
Though districts seem unlikely at this point, the Cougars still have a shot at an MPC-Keystone title, trailing first place Lower Dauphin by two games, and play the Falcons Tuesday.
While the pitching has been excellent with a team ERA of 2.80, the hitting has been average at about five runs a game.
5. Cedar Crest Falcons (5-9, 4-8 Section 1)
It’s been a similar type of season for the Falcons, who are continuing to build up a young nucleus. Cedar Crest however, has shown some flashes of growth throughout the season, most notably showed in what was arguably the best win for the Falcons this season, a 10-9 walk-off win over intra-county foe Palmyra. There’s also some good development happening on the mound as well.
Cedar Crest however, will need to continue improving at the plate, averaging just over four runs per game this season.
6. Lebanon Cedars (4-10, 3-9 Section 3)
It’s been a tough year for the Cedars, having cost themselves a lot of games with mental and physical mistakes.
After a slow start at the plate, Lebanon has hit the ball better, especially during this four-game stretch in which it's gone 2-2.
The Cedars look for more consistency to finish the year out strong.
7. Lebanon Catholic Beavers (0-12, 0-10)
With a huge disadvantage of having low numbers and not enough talent and experience, the Beavers have used this season to focus on little goals to achieve in hopes of building on it for the future.