Behind ace Long, Annville-Cleona blanks Upper Dauphin
ANNVILLE – In the most important game of Annville-Cleona's season, Mitch Long turned in one of his best performances.
Long tossed a complete-game shutout on 98 pitches as the Dutchmen defeated Upper Dauphin 5-0 in the District 3 Class 3A baseball opening round on Monday afternoon at Lebanon Valley College. The Dutchmen (16-4) will play Lancaster Catholic in Thursday's semifinals at a site and time to be announced.
In a battle of left-handers, Long outperformed Upper Dauphin starter Connor Deitrich. Long allowed just two hits, struck out six and walked two.
“He just kept doing what he's been doing all year,” A-C head coach Scott Shyda said. “He's been efficient, even when he gets behind in the count. He's throwing strikes.”
Deitrich allowed four of the five A-C runs, with six hits, four strikeouts and two walks in four innings pitched.
The only time Long was in real trouble was in the top of the third. Already up 1-0 courtesy of a Cole Waldhausen sacrifice fly in the second, Long walked two of three batters to start the frame. Dylan Lower bunted, and Long fielded the ball on the first base side of the mound, pivoted, and got the second out of the inning at third base on a close play.
“He plays aggressively,” Shyda said. “I think because of how quickly the ball got to him, he assumed he could get him.”
A groundout ended the inning, and after A-C scored three runs in the bottom of the third, the game was never in serious doubt again.
Long was in the middle of that rally as well. He tripled to right to score Eli Setlock for a 2-0 lead, then scored when a pickoff at first went awry. Later, Ben Rita hit in Ben Miller with a single to left for a 4-0 advantage.
Rita was also a contributor to Long's pitching performance from his catcher position.
“He does a good job handling Mitch,” Shyda said. “Always moving around and changing locations.”
The Dutchmen tacked on a run in the sixth when Cameron Hoch doubled in Waldhausen. The game could have been more lopsided, but A-C stranded four runners in the last two innings.
Middle infielders Waldhausen and Setlock ended the game with a perfectly executed double play.
Upper Dauphin reliever Lower allowed two hits and two walks while striking out one in two innings of work.
During the regular season, A-C played Lancaster Catholic twice, winning once 2-1 and losing once 12-2. Shyda said that Sal Biondollo would probably pitch for the Dutchmen. The winner of Thursday's game will advance to the district finals and the state tournament, and the loser will be eliminated.