The State College baseball team didn’t make adjustments at the plate and turned in another lackluster performance.
At the start of the game, Little Lions coach Troy Allen instructed his team to lay off Central Dauphin starting pitcher Garrett Foster’s curveball and look for the fastball. But throughout the game, Allen watched as his players attacked curveballs and the season-long offensive struggle continued.
The Little Lions managed just two hits in a 3-2 loss to the Rams on Friday.
“We’re just not playing smart baseball, and until that happens, we’re going to keep losing games,” Allen said.
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State College failed to record a hit in the final six innings as Foster threw a complete game to earn the win.
Little Lions starting pitcher Bailey Ishler went 5 1/3 innings and left the game with the lead, limiting Central Dauphin to one run and four hits. David Shoemaker allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings to take the loss.
State College went into the final inning with the lead despite the lack of offensive production.
Ishler overcame command issues to work out of jams and keep the Little Lions in the game.
The right-hander allowed the Rams to score in a 36-pitch first inning which included three walks. After retiring the first two hitters with eight pitches, Ishler gave up a single to Troy Schreffler and back-to-back walks to load the bases. Schreffler then scored on a passed ball to give the Rams a 1-0 lead.
Another walk reloaded the bases, but Ishler struck out Ben Snyder to end the inning.
Ishler, who struck out five and walked eight, escaped another bases-loaded jam in the fifth.
“He’s got a ton of heart,” Allen said. “He’s always out there competing. It’s a tough day to pitch. It’s cold, it’s wet. These are typically days pitchers don’t have their best stuff and when you don’t have your best stuff, you got to battle and he did that.”
When Allen pulled Ishler after his eighth walk in the sixth inning, the Little Lions led 2-1.
State College tied the game in the bottom of the first, thanks to their only two hits. Brandon Raquet led off with a single to left field and later scored on a two-out single to center field by catcher Zach Ripka.
The Little Lions took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a walk and a pair of errors.
Ripka reached base with one out on a throwing error by shortstop JJ Thrush. Josh Gardner entered as a courtesy runner, advanced to second on a wild pitch and went to third after a balk by Foster. Mason Mellott drew a walk to set up a first-and-third situation with one out.
Mellott got in a rundown between first and second after a pickoff throw by Foster, Gardner took off from third and Rams first baseman Derek Danko gunned him down.
Meanwhile, Mellott rounded second base, leading to an errant throw by Central Dauphin catcher Tito Figueroa that rolled into the outfield.
Mellott came around to score to give his team a 2-1 lead.
“That was like a roller coaster,” Central Dauphin coach Brian Zellers said.
The Rams threatened in the top of the sixth, putting runners on first and third with two outs.
But again, they came up empty.
“It’s typical baseball, typical high school baseball,” Zellers said. “Sometimes you don’t get the key hits you need.”
In the top of the seventh, Central Dauphin finally broke through. Nate Horst doubled to right field to start the inning against Shoemaker. Christian Fox-Klein followed with a single that got by State College right fielder Greg Copenhaver to allow Horst to score.
Fox-Klein moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored what proved to be the game-winning run on Mario Cattabiani’s single up the middle.
The loss turned Allen’s focus to the team’s offensive approach once again.
“I don’t think it’s anything skill-related,” Allen said. “I think our approach at the plate has been terrible.”