Cory Stively rebounded from a rare poor outing as the Solanco baseball team posted its second straight key league win by upending Elizabethtown 5-2 Wednesday, April 24.
Stively, who two days earlier was pulled in the second inning after allowing six runs at Hempfield, hurled a complete game against the visiting Bears. The senior lefty recorded nine strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
"Cory bounced back," Solanco coach Tom Fish said. "He struggled against Hempfield. We got him out of there early so we could have him [against Elizabethtown], because it was a big game for us in the section. His control's been so solid this year. Fastball is live. He's so relaxed. He doesn't let anything bother him. We had a mistake in the field which led to their first run and he just beared down and got us out of the inning. He's good for big games and we hope to have a few coming up."
Solanco snapped a 2-2 tie with three runs in the home half of the fifth. Sam Buckwalter got things started by ripping a single to center. He advanced to second on Grady Unger's sacrifice bunt. Dawson Kreider singled sharply to left and Buckwalter had to hold at third. Kreider then stole second.
Seth Harnish hit the ball hard, but right back at the pitcher, who knocked it down, looked Buckwalter back to third, and fired to first for the second out of the inning. Tim Fetterman hit a grounder to third. The third baseman's throw was low and skipped over the glove of the first baseman allowing both baserunners to score and Fetterman to go to third. Fetterman scored when Mike May drilled an RBI single to the left of the Bears' sprawling third baseman.
"I thought the key to this game was Sam leading off the inning with that base hit," said Fish. "Not only that, he had a great trip around the bases. He and Tim Fetterman really ran the bases good for us."
Stively retired Elizabethtown in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to seal the deal. "The second and third time through the lineup I get to know what the hitters' strengths and weaknesses are and I try to attack the weaknesses the best I can," Stively said. "
Coming off a dramatic victory over Manheim Township the previous day, Solanco started sluggishly against Elizabethtown. "We had a big win [the day before] against Manheim Township," Fish said. "It's so hard. We handled Elizabethtown the first time pretty easy. It's hard getting up for every game. Three games in a row. Huge win [Tuesday]. I was a little concerned and tried to keep the team on their toes. At the end of the day, we had enough good contact to make things happen."
The Bears went up 1-0 in the top of the second, but the Mules countered quickly. Joel McGuire drew a walk to start of the bottom half of the tinning, stole second, and scored on a John Murray single.
After Solanco ran into two outs on the bases in the third, Elizabethtown took a 2-1 edge in the fourth. Fetterman reached on a bloop single to right, then stole second and raced to third when the throw went into center field. After a strikeout, Fetterman scored on McGuire's infield hit on a dribbler between the mound and third base line.
Fish admires his team's steely demeanor, but was pleased to see the Mules be more vocal. "They come to the field the same way every day," said Fish. "Every game, they're exactly the same. I wasn't sure if it was extreme focus or what it was, but they're quiet usually. [Against Elizabethtown] we were a little louder. Truth be told, I wanted these guys to get a little confident and a little cocky and a little loud. Sometimes it makes us play better and wakes us up."
The Mules nipped visiting Manheim Township 4-3 Tuesday, April 23.
Solanco starter Haydn Fox tossed 6 2/3 innings before reaching his pitch count limit. He yielded one hit and three walks while fanning three and giving up two unearned runs.
"Haydn was just awesome going up against a really good team," Fish said.
Kreider came on in relief with two outs in the top of the seventh and Solanco leading 4-1. After an error, walk, and single, Township trailed 4-3 and had runners on second and third. Kreider closed out the game by retiring Township's number three hitter on a comebacker.
The Mules took a 2-0 lead in the first. Kreider walked, Seth Harnish singled, and Fetterman delivered a two-run single. In the second, Kreider singled to score Hunter Shaw.
Solanco made it 4-1 with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Fox came through with a clutch two-out RBI double to plate Shaw.
On Monday, April 22, host Hempfield handed the Mules an 11-1 loss in six innings.
Solanco scored its only run in the top of the first when Fetterman singled to knock in Kreider.
Nate Butler was a bright spot for the Mules. Making his first appearance on the mound this season, Butler allowed just one run over the final three innings.
"The best decision we made was to get Cory out of the game early so he could do what he did [against Elizabethtown]," Fish said.