Baseball team overcomes disastrous fifth inning with redeeming sixth to beat Barons 7-4

In the bottom of the fifth of a 4-3 game Manheim Central led, Connor Brown fought off an 0-2 pitch for an opposite field single and Caleb Danehower perfectly executed a bunt and took advantage of an overthrow to move runners to second and third with no outs, which should have been great news for L-S. Then the wheels came off with two egregious baserunning errors that kept the Pioneers from tying the game or taking the lead, a rare lapse in fundamentals for an historically disciplined program.
It was opening day for the Pioneers' baseball team

Faced with an identical situation in the bottom of the sixth, the Pioneers were not about to make the same mistake twice. After a pop-out catalyzed a fleeting feeling of "here we go again", senior Andrew Hay came to the plate. He got the sign for a safety squeeze, meaning he was supposed to bunt any pitch in the strike zone, at which point Dan Eshleman -- who was standing on third base -- would come home. The first pitch of the at-bat was not in the strike zone.

"I was only supposed to bunt strikes. I shouldn't have bunted it, it was out of the strike zone, but I decided to trust my ability and bunt it anyway," says Hay, adding, "Thankfully it worked out in our favor."

Hay's bunt drove in the first of the Pioneers' four runs in the bottom of the sixth, an inning in which they batted around and took a 7-4 lead.
Andrew Hay's most valuable contribution with a bat came
when he laid down a bunt in the sixth inning to drive in a run

After the failure in the fifth inning, "you'd better believe there was extra motivation" to score in the sixth, which the team did fourfold.

Thereafter, sophomore Kris Pirozzi took the hill for his fourth inning in relief of starter Colin Eckman, and battled through some tough at-bats to retire the Barons in their final opportunity; the game ended on a tailing flyball to left-centerfield on which Connor Brown made a diving catch. 

It was Pirozzi's first winning decision at the varsity level; he allowed three hits and one earned run while recording five strikeouts. He settled the game down after a tough outing for Colin Eckman, who started the game and struggled to find the strike zone, walking six hitters over the first three innings.

Pirozzi's outing certainly showed promise for the future; only a sophomore, he was a consistent presence on the mound.
Colin Eckman was the team's
opening day starter

At the plate, Devon Weiant had a strong day for the Pioneers, going three for three with three runs scored. Eckman was two for three with a run batted in as well.

The first game of the season is always the first real test for a team. With equivocation, Hay thinks this team passed.

"We rallied back after being down and came together for a great team win," he says. "We're gonna make some improvements, enjoy our Easter break, and then we got Catholic on Monday."

View hitting box score (note: not arranged in batting order)
View game play-by-play

View Google Photos gallery from Lauren Mast's collection

--Benjamin Pontz, Editor-In-Chief; Photos by Lauren Mast, Director of Sports Photography

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