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BASEBALL: Jamanis, Marsh lead Crusaders to 5-0 shutout of Annville-Cleona

ANNVILLE>> Lancaster Catholic baseball coach Ty Book preached the gospel of small ball this preseason so faithfully that he projected to his Crusaders occasions in which he would ask them to bunt with two strikes. So when captain Bayley Jamanis stepped out to meet Book for a short conference after a pair of failed bunt attempts in a scoreless game at Annvile-Cleona Thursday, he knew what was coming. Except Book threw him a curveball:

"You need to find me a gap now."

Turning on an ensuing 3-2 heater from Little Dutchmen hurler Colton Long, Jamanis did his coach one better and cleared the fence.

Led by Jamanis' game-high three RBI, including two from his homer in the sixth inning, Lancaster Catholic dealt Annville-Cleona its first loss of the season, 5-0. The Crusaders (4-1) were also lifted by the complete-game, 11-strikeout effort of freshmen starter Dillon Marsh, who fanned seven of the first dozen batters he faced. Long took the loss for the Little Dutchmen (5-1), exiting in the sixth with no outs and runners in scoring position.

Until the final two frames, Annville-Cleona had out-hit Lancaster Catholic by three, but failed to advance any past second base due to base-running blunders.

"Through five (innings), I'm seeing us winning the game at that point," Little Dutchmen coach Scott Shyda said. "Then we make some mistakes, and against a team like this, if you hurt yourself, you're going to pay for it. And we did."

The hurt first began to sink in when Crusaders shortstop Matt Eck opened the sixth by reaching base on a groundball knocked to his defensive counterpart Alec Barr. Once Eck swiped second and Jamanis failed to get his bunts down, the visiting captain took Long deep to left, putting Lancaster Catholic, the reigning Section Four king prior to Annville-Cleona's coronation last year, on the board. Marsh then doubled and later came around to score the first of two additional runs that gave him all the offensive support he needed.

"The message when we got here was to take our section back," Book said. "We're trying to recover from a tough year last year, and Dillon Marsh threw a great game. Late in the game, our offense came alive a little bit ... and we did what we tried to come out here and do."

Barr eventually closed out the sixth from the mound, punching out consecutive Crusaders around a recorded out on the base paths. While he would allow an RBI single to Jamanis in the seventh, the day's writing had long been on the wall thanks to Marsh. The first-year varsity pitcher masterfully mixed up his potent fastball with a sharp curve, often keeping the Little Dutchmen off balance and in the dugout. Marsh, who had shared a diamond with an Annville-Cleona's player during summer ball, struck out 10 before issuing his first walk.

"We did have an idea of what we would be getting (with Marsh), and he certainly did not disappoint," Shyda shared. "Credit goes to him."

The Little Dutchmen's best chance at scratching a run across arguably came in the second frame, when Long led off with a single to right, before getting gunned down in an attempt to stretch his knock into an extra-base hit. His brother, Mitch, followed in the next at-bat with a double to center that clashed with the wall, but Marsh calmly sat the next two batters down on strikes.

Catcher Hunter Long later opened the bottom of the fourth with a single, and Will Langan clubbed a double in the fifth, but both were eventually stranded by teammates.

Jamanis went on to change the game for good in the ensuing half-inning, simultaneously delivering a message that he hopes comes through as well as his coach's did moments prior to his critical home run.

"I was just trying to put the ball in play and caught the barrel. And I think we really proved ourselves today," he said.

Annville-Cleona returns to its home diamond Friday for a 4:15 p.m. first pitch against county foe Lebanon.

LC 0000041—570A-C0000000—051

W — Dillon Marsh; L — Colton Long

SO-BB — LC: Marsh 11-2. AC: C. Long 2-2, Alec Barr 2-1.

2B — LC: Marsh. AC: Mitch Long, Will Langan.

HR —LC: Bayley Jamanis.