BASEBALL: Annville-Cleona edged in first round of districts at Upper Dauphin
ELIZABETHVILLE >> Thirteen Annville-Cleona runners had already been left stranded, standing helpless after a third out had been recorded Monday. But it was the last Little Dutchman, set off in a full sprint from first to second base, that brought an end to the team's season.
No. 9 Annville-Cleona dropped a 4-3 first-round decision at No. 8 Upper Dauphin in the District Three Class AA baseball tournament and concluded its season with a record of 10-12.
After driving in a run to cut his team's deficit to one, Little Dutchmen Noah Connor was gunned out at second base for the day's final out following a pitch that got away from the catcher. Colton Long took the loss on the hill, having surrendered three earned runs in the first inning and an unearned one in the sixth.
Annville-Cleona left the bases loaded in each of the first three frames, capping a frustrating six-game end of its season that yielded a total of a dozen runs scored.
"I thought we had a chance to make some noise in the district playoffs here, and it just didn't happen for us," Little Dutchmen coach Scott Shyda said. "We were a couple key hits short of winning this game, and credit to their pitchers. They got out of those jams."
Working 3 2/3 innings of relief, Trojans hurler Drake Lenker picked up the win, one year after Annville-Cleona had beaten his club in district play, 7-2. But on this afternoon, Lenker, as well as Upper Dauphin starter Aaron Cleveland, was aided by 10 hits at the plate and a handful of stellar plays in the field. The combination of the two had been missing most of the year for the Trojans, according to skipper Ryan Lentz, whose club committed 43 errors in 20 games.
"We made the plays that needed to be made," Lentz said. "(Long) was working guys away and they just did a good job staying closed and being patient and driving the ball the other way."
Down 3-0 in the third, Little Dutchmen senior Isaac Woelfling got his team on the board via an RBI single to right, but then came three consecutive strikeouts to end the inning. Woelfling finished 3-for-4 and came around to score Annville-Cleona's final run thanks to Connor's hit, that came with one strike left in his team's season. Mitch Long accounted for the Little Dutchmen's second run in the top of the sixth, a score quickly answered in the home half when Upper Dauphin's Kyle Glounder came around on an error by the shortstop.
The play was the only blemish for Colton Long and his defense after the first inning, from which point the senior right-hander retired nine straight and struck out six.
"He was not at his peak today, but he's as good a competitor as we have," Shyda said. "And we certainly need that in games like this. We didn't think twice about who we were starting today. It was Colton all the way."
Long, who often served as a battery mate of his junior brother, Hunter, during the season, is now finished with his high school career. But he was adamant that district playoff appearances are far from over for the Little Dutchmen.
"It's a great future ahead. We have a lot of young guys that stepped up towards the end of the year here," Long said. "They're going to be good. They're going to be really good."
Annville-Cleona001001 1 —361Upper Dauphin300001 X —4 100
W — Drake Lenker; L — Colton Long.
SO-BB — AC: Long (7 K, 3 BB). UD: Aaron Cleveland (7 K, 3 BB), Lenker (4 K, 0 BB).