L-L BASEBALL: Another sunny day for Pioneers - LancasterOnline: Sports

L-L BASEBALL: Another sunny day for Pioneers

Six-run first inning sets tone for 8-5 win over Donegal

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Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 9:39 pm | Updated: 11:35 am, Mon Jan 20, 2014.

Scudding, steel-gray clouds.

Cold, scattered rain.

Whipping winds that swirled dirt storms and dropped game-time temperatures into the high 30s.

Wednesday's weather wasn't conducive to the Summer Game, but as far as Lampeter-Strasburg's baseball team was concerned, dealing with the elements at Donegal was simply a case of mind over matter.

The Pioneers didn't mind, so it didn't matter.

"We play every game like it's 85 (degrees) and sunny," winning pitcher Ray Lopez said following an 8-5 L-L Section Three win. "We don't let things we can't control affect our game."

The Pioneers (4-1 L-L, 7-1 overall) took their cue from their workhorse right-hander. Taking advantage of two Indian errors and a pair of wild pitches, L-S knocked starter Adam Frey (2-2) from the box with a six-run first inning.

"That was a pretty tough first inning," Tribe boss Chris Miller said. "We didn't make a few plays, and we had to battle the elements.

"L-S is a very good team. You can't give them extra opportunities and that's what we did."

Nate Shank's run-scoring triple, Andrew Wright's fielder's choice RBI and Dan Neff's two-run single highlighted the early outburst, which saw the Pioneers send 11 men to the plate in their first at-bat.

"We were aggressive early, we put the ball in play," L-S coach Todd Garber said. "One of our goals is to win the first inning. We took advantage of opportunities."

Lopez (2-0) took it from there. Mixing a fastball and changeup, the sturdy senior held the Indians - who entered the game boasting a .369 team batting average - hitless heading into the fourth.

"He did a good job of keeping the ball around the plate," said Miller.

Lopez called L-S's early lead "awesome."

"We could just go out and play," he added. "Everything was flowing."

After relieving Frey in the first inning, Dylan Houseal held the reigning section champs to just two hits over the following five frames.

"He's a workhorse," Miller said of Houseal, who threw 112 pitches in relief. "He came in and did a great job of holding the line."

Donegal (2-3, 5-4) scratched out a run in the fourth on Ed Lazowski's RBI flyout. The Indians nearly added another run, but second baseman John Jabour's throw to catcher Matt McCrudden cut down a potential run at the plate.

After throwing nearly two-thirds of his pitches (37 of 61) for strikes through the first five innings, Lopez struggled in the sixth. Of his 31 pitches in the inning, only 14 were strikes.

Walks to Michael Houseal and Lazowski followed Dalton Garrett's deflected, two-out single. Michael Robinson roped a two-run single and Ben Shenandoah smacked a two-run double to make it 6-5.

The Tribe had the tying run on third, but Garber didn't waver in his commitment to Lopez.

"We have a lot of confidence in Ray," he said. "He loves to compete. He wants the ball when the game is on the line."

Lopez stranded the tying run on third, and after L-S scored a pair of insurance runs in the seventh, he struck out the side on 13 pitches to seal the deal.

The defeat was the third in four games for Donegal, which started the season 4-1.

"We're in a little bit of a lull," Miller said. "But I'd rather have it at this time of the year than later."

L-S, meanwhile, rebounded from a difficult loss, a 10-8 decision to Manheim Central on Monday.

"We don't talk a lot about the opponent or our record," Garber said. "We take it one game at a time. If we win, we'll be there at the end."

egruver@lnpnews.com

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