BASEBALL: Northern Lebanon's Jordan Nichols two-hits Annville-Cleona in 8-0 win
FREDERICKSBURG>> Whether brought on by the bright lights or rivalry, Jordan Nichols' fastball had a little extra pop to it Tuesday night against Annville-Cleona.
Nichols felt it, his coach, Northern Lebanon skipper Daryl Hess saw it, and for seven innings, the Little Dutchmen had to deal with it; which meant bad news for them. For the first time all season, the Vikings' southpaw also had his typically untamed slider under control, too, and in turn he would command the entire night.
Under the lights at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Nichols dazzled in a complete-game two-hitter, shutting out rival Annville-Cleona, 8-0. Northern Lebanon (8-5, 7-3 Section Three), which suffered a walk-off loss to the Little Dutchmen in last year's Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, struck for five runs in the first inning and pushed its shutout streak to three straight games. At the plate, Seth Walmer and Noah Gingrich each supplied two RBIs, while every Viking reached base.
"We're on a pretty good win streak. We've got to keep winning to have a shot at the section, so this was a big win for us," Nichols said. "That was definitely the best start I've had all year."
Annville-Cleona (7-4, 6-4 Section Four) touched the senior southpaw only for singles in the second and fifth, hits belonging to Isaac Woelfling and Noah Connor, respectively. Woelfling's base knock to right field served up the final out of the second inning, as Northern Lebanon outfielder Ryan Biever gunned down Colton Long, aboard via Nichols' lone walk, while he sprinted for third base. And that would be as far as the Little Dutchmen would reach all night.
"We have a good rivalry with them and have had some closely fought games over the last year or two. So we were looking forward to playing them," Annville-Cleona coach Scott Shyda said. "But (Nichols) pretty much set the tone from the beginning. And to his credit, he really pitched well. That's about as good as we've seen. All the credit to him."
Starting on the hill for the Little Dutchmen stood Jordan Gohn, who surrendered four singles around three walks over the opening frame. Gohn and his eventual reliever, Tyler Schrader, handed out a total of 10 free passes on the night, four more than the Vikings' total number of hits. A string of three consecutive walks preceded Gohn's exit in the fifth, when Schrader gave up a two-RBI base hit to Gingrich for a 7-0 deficit.
"(Gohn) looked good other than that, and that's been our Achilles heel so far, hurting ourselves by walks," Shyda said. "That was no different tonight. Until that changes, we're going to have a tough time beating a good team like this."
Few teams would have been able to top Nichols on Tuesday, however, something Hess said he noticed early on when his starter's first few fastballs hit the mitt.
"I think there was a little extra on it tonight," Hess said. "And when he mixes in that off-speed stuff, it's tough. He threw really well."
N. Lebanon500021 0 —8 60
A-Cleona000000 0 —022
W — Jordan Nichols; L — Jordan Gohn
SO-BB — NL: Nichols 13-1. A-C: Gohn 4-7, Schrader 4-3.