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Hain, pitching depth putting Elco in position

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MYERSTOWN – Along with its productive lineup, the deep pitching staff of the Elco baseball team has carried it back into position for a section crown.

One pitcher throwing particularly well at this point has been Clay Hain, who came into the Raiders’ big matchup with section foe Cocalico off a solid performance at Annville-Cleona April 21, though it still resulted in an extra-inning loss.

Though he didn’t get the win at A-C, Hain continued his recent dominance on the mound with a complete-game shutout of the Eagles (8-6, 6-5), leading the Raiders (11-4, 8-4) to a 4-0 win Friday at Lyle Krall Field.

Hain allowed seven hits, while striking out two, only walking one, and hit one batter.

And just like the game against the Dutchmen, things didn’t come easy for Hain, having to battle through a couple big jams.

The biggest jam came in the top of the sixth, having to battle through loading the bases with just one out. Hain then retired the next two batters to come out unscathed.

The other came in the fourth, putting runners at second and third with two outs after he was called for a balk. But Hain would go on to sit down that current at-bat with a ground ball back to the mound.

“I was able to stay focused by locating a lot,” Hain said. “I know my coaches were really telling me to locate, and that helped a lot.”

“He really showed a lot of poise in those situations and he made some big pitches when he needed to,” said Raiders coach Chris Weidner. “His defense helped him out as well. We made some nice plays with the glove. That’s always key too. But he stayed within himself and he really hit locations. I’m really happy for him for the sheer fact that he lost that tough game at Annville. He deserved to win last week. We just didn’t give him run support.”

Elco’s offense also came through with some timely hitting as well in the later innings, led by Cole Miller with a 2-for-3 day, including a double and two RBI. Hunter Witters was also 2-for-3 with a RBI, and a run scored through a Dylan Martin fielder’s choice.

But what’s helped Hain the most during this recent groove is knowing his teammates have his back.

“It’s a trusting thing. The whole team’s behind you,” Hain said. “You feel good when that happens. For me, I just try to throw strikes.”

While Weidner recognizes the job Hain’s done lately, he still knows the overall depth of his pitching staff has truly made a big difference.

“We have three guys who are capable of doing that job in (Tyler) Price, (Travis) Weaver and Clay. I just think lately, Clay’s really dialed it up. But expect the same thing out of Weaver Monday, and we have Cole (Miller) rested in the bullpen. But Hain being able to have a complete game like that keeps our rotation appropriately rested.”

And that will certainly be key as the Raiders are right back in the position they were in last season, where they fell a game short of the section title.

“It’s on the table. We control our destiny,” Weidner said. “Northern Lebanon helped us out by beating Manheim Central (9-2, 8-2). Now we need to make sure we take care of business. The kids understand that and appreciate the opportunity they have.”

Only this time, the Raiders hope to finish it.