Baseball team drops the ball with three errors against Ephrata in 9-6 loss

Baseball is a game of intricacies, and today at Pioneer field, it was the visiting Mountaineers from Ephrata who capitalized upon that in their 9-6 victory over the home team.
Dan Eshleman got a shot on the mound too in the Pioneers'
loss at the hands of Ephrata

Kris Pirozzi made his first varsity start for the Pioneers and was aided by some solid defense in the early innings including two slick double plays (around the horn 5-4-3 in the first inning and then 4-6-3 in the second inning) that helped him work out of potential jams and give up just one run through the opening frames.

In the top of the third, doing the little things right began to pay dividends for Ephrata. After a bunt single and subsequent fielder's choice, top-of-the-order catalyst Nate Fassnacht laced one to right-center that bounced off the top of Ben Rhoades' glove and all the way to the wall allowing a run to score. Thereafter, Fassnacht stole third and took home as Devon Weiant's throw skipped into left field. Ephrata led 3-0.

The Pioneers battled back in their half of the inning, taking advantage of a leadoff hit batsman (something that happened six times on the windy afternoon) and a bloop double to put runners on second and third with no outs. Dan Eshleman knocked a single to center that scored Rhoades, but was subsequently caught trying to steal second in a bit of a strange sequence. Ultimately, Weiant doubled to bring home Shank and scored when Andrew Hay reached on an error at the end of the inning, which tied the score at three after three.

Ephrata struck right back. Pirozzi retired the first two hitters with little sweat, but allowed a double to Adam Schwartz and hit the subsequent batter. A routine groundball to short should have ended the inning, but Bear Shank bobbled the ball and a run scored as the runner was safe at first. Fassnacht then came to the plate and walloped a ball to centerfield that went over the fence for a three-run homer that gave the Mounts a four-run lead.

L-S got their bats to work, promptly loading the bases which prompted Ephrata to bring in a new pitcher (Schwartz), who could not strand any of the inherited runners, but prevented any new ones from reaching base as the Pioneers left the bases loaded and thus trailed by a run going into the fifth.

Mistakes continued to hamper L-S.

Justin Carvell led off for Ephrata with a shot to the right-centerfield gap that went over the head of the diving Rhoades and rolled to the wall where there was no one to back up, allowing Carvell, the catcher, to leg out a triple, much to the chagrin of L-S coach Keith Martin, who audibly yelled, "Figure it out!" to his outfielders before making a pitching change.

Dan Eshleman entered his first game as a pitcher in two years (he sat out his junior season), and showed some signs of rust as he walked the first hitter he faced and went to a three-ball count with three other batters during the outing. Ultimately, he allowed just one run (as well as allowing the inherited runner to score), and showed signs of grit including a sweet pickoff move that nailed the leaning Fassnacht to end the sixth inning.

Unfortunately for the Pioneers, that grit did not manifest itself at the plate as Ephrata retired nine of the Pioneers' final ten batters to clinch the victory.

Pirozzi, who now owns a 4.38 ERA on the season in two total appearances, struck out two and walked one in four innings of work while Eshleman walked two and did not record any strikeouts in his first appearance of the year.

The team, now 3-2 on the season, will host local rival Conestoga Valley on Friday.

View a full gallery of pictures via Google Photos

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

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