Nemesis Catholic ends Annville-Cleona's season
EPHRATA - It wasn't the way the Annville-Cleona baseball team wanted to go out. No sir, not to longtime nemesis Lancaster Catholic.
But when the unsatisfying ending arrived, A-C head coach Scott Shyda chose to focus on all the good stuff that came before it instead of what led to the 2017 season reaching its conclusion.
And there was a lot of good stuff, including 16 wins and league and district playoff berths, that the Dutchmen experienced before Thursday evening's 5-1 loss to Lancaster Catholic in the District 3 3A semifinals at Ephrata's War Memorial Field.
"I look back at this season, and I had one awesome group of guys here," Shyda said. "We have a lot of good memories, and a lot of things previous teams have not done we have done this year. When I look back at this season, I won't think about this game I'll think about the great group of guys that we've had and the things we've accomplished."
A-C had its mind set on adding to that legacy and appeared to be off to a good start in the top of the first when Cameron Hoch doubled with one out and moved to third on a balk by Lancaster Catholic lefty Nick Breznak.
But Hoch was left stranded there and, apparently buoyed by that, the Crusaders (19-5) jumped on A-C starter Sonny Biondollo for two two-out runs in the bottom of the first via an RBI double by Dillon Marsh and a run-scoring single by Brayden Clair.
Catholic then was helped by an error in the third that set the stage for Tyler Peters' two-run single and what prove to be a very comfortable 4-0 lead with Breznak settling in after a shaky first inning.
"They deserved to win today, no question about it," Shyda said of the Crusaders. "I can't do anything more than give them credit. We made a few mistakes early, got behind and then it got away from us a little bit."
For a team that has had trouble scoring runs, the 4-0 deficit, which then grew to 5-0 on Bryce Behmer's RBI double in the fifth, was far from ideal.
A-C got one back in the sixth on Ben Miller's RBI knock, but in the end would manage only four hits against Breznak.
"That's been our challenge this year," Shyda said of the offense. "Our pitching and defense has been rock-solid. Our hitting has been struggling at times. When we come out on the short side, it's usually our hitting that struggles."
But it was more painful for Shyda to say to this year's team, featuring 10 seniors, than it was to watch his team struggle at the plate. Not even close, really.
"It's tough, this last game, every year," Shyda said. "You're out there with these guys every day and you get close to them. You enjoy being around them, and then all of a sudden - boom - over. It takes me a while to get over it. Such a neat bunch of kids."
Lancaster Catholic 5, Annville-Cleona 1
Annville-Cleona 000 001 0 - 1 4 1
WP: Breznak, LP: Biondollo
SO-BB: AC - Biondollo (6 IP, 5 K, 2 BB), LC: Breznak (7 IP, 7 K, 3 BB)
2B: AC - Hoch, LC - Marsh, Scott, Behmer