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BASEBALL: Barons deal Northern Lebanon first loss, 8-2

MANHEIM>> Timing was indeed everything Thursday, as the Northern Lebanon baseball team took its first loss of the season, 8-2, despite matching host Manheim Central in all hitting categories and surrendering fewer walks.

The Barons brought home all but one of their seven runners to reach scoring position on the day, while the Vikings (3-1) left the bases loaded in the second and sixth innings. Manheim Central shortstop Blake Reiff crushed a two-run home run in the first and finished 2-for-3 with a game-high three RBI.

Isaac Wengert opened the fourth frame with a solo shot that put Northern Lebanon on the board, but the reigning Section Three champions managed just two hits from there on out.

"When we had a chance to get some runs, we just couldn't get that key hit," Vikings coach Daryl Hess said. "And I said to the guys it's a funny thing because that's been one of our strengths so far this year. It just didn't happen today."

Following Reiff's blast, Barons starter Dan Wiederrecht was forced to leave the rubber due to discomfort in his throwing arm, setting the stage for eventual winning pitcher Taylor Rohrer. Rohrer promptly surrendered a double to Luke Sonnen, as well as two ensuing walks, but struck out counterpart Zane Merkel to end the Vikings' first bases-loaded threat. Back on the hill, Merkel allowed one run in consecutive frames, both via RBI groundouts to short, before retiring seven straight.

"I thought Zane battled," Hess said. "Early on, his curve ball wasn't working for him. And then towards the end, the curv eball and changeup was working, so he got some swings and misses to keep them off base."

Trailing 4-2 in the fifth, Merkel ran into trouble as Reiff, taking his third look at the Northern Lebanon hurler, laced a run-scoring double to center with two outs. Clean-up hitter Kevin Starner then plated Reiff on an RBI single, providing extra cushion for Rohrer, who escaped another jam in the next half-inning by getting Merkel to stare at strike three.

"Our pitchers definitely buckled down today," Manheim Central coach Jason Thompson said. "They beat us twice last year, so we knew we'd be in a good game with them. We were just able to keep them off balance."

Two errors at third base marred a tough bottom of the sixth when Merkel took his exit for sophomore reliever Seth Walmer. After reaching base on the first miscue and swiftly swiping two bags, Peter Breit scored on a controversial call at home plate, which gave way to Walmer's entrance, an RBI single from Wiederrecht and the last Viking at-bats.

Smacking an inning-opening single to right, Wyatt Beakler was the only Northern Lebanon runner in the seventh, two frames after he posted the team's only other RBI on a sacrifice fly.

Northern Lebanon will return to the diamond Monday afternoon at Donegal with first pitch slated for 4:15 p.m.

N. Lebanon000110 0 —2 62
M. Central211022 X —860

W — Rohrer; L — Merkel

SO-BB — MC: Wiederrecht 2-4, Rohrer (2 K, 6 BB), Neely (1 K, 0 BB). NL: Merkel (7 K, 2 BB), Walmer (1 K, 0 BB).

2B — MC: Reiff. NL: Sonnen.

HR — MC: Reiff. NL: Wengert.