Barons blank Eagles behind Rohrer

By on May 10, 2017
Cocalico pitcher Tyler Stricker works in the first inning against Manheim Central on Monday, May 8 in Denver.

Cocalico pitcher Tyler Stricker works in the first inning against Manheim Central on Monday, May 8 in Denver.

The stakes were pretty high on Monday.

With first-place Manheim Central knocking on the door of back-to-back Section Three titles, and holding a slim one-game lead over Garden Spot, they couldn’t afford any letup.

Enter Baron junior ace lefty Taylor Rohrer.

All he did against Section Three rival Cocalico was establish a new career-high in strikeouts with 13, while tossing a six-hit masterpiece, as the Barons shut out the Eagles 3-0 in Denver.

Cocalico, which closed out Section Three play at 9-7, will miss the post-season. The Eagles (11-8) overall heading into Tuesday’s regular season non-league finale at home vs. Muhlenberg, finished fourth in league play and were ranked 21st in District Class 5A heading into Tuesday. Only the top 14 move on to District play.

“(Taylor) loves pitching in big games,” Manheim Central coach Matt Huber said. “A couple of outings we didn’t give him enough run support, but today we got him three runs and thankfully he was pitching awesome because that’s all we needed.”

“I love (big games),” said Rohrer, a George Washington University recruit. “It makes you feel like you’re in control of the game and it’s up to you.”

Central reached Cocalico senior right-hander Tyler Stricker for nine hits and scored all three of their runs with two outs. Baron senior catcher Tyler Lutz was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI’s to lead the way.

The Barons weren’t denied in the top of the first inning, as Tyler Simon was hit by a pitch with one out, stole second and scored on Lutz’s RBI double to right-center field.

But thanks to back-to-back-to-back one-out infield hits by Drew Sawyer, Nick Lucky (3-for-3), and Austin Harven, Cocalico was in business in the bottom of that inning.

“It seemed like everything was going their way,” Rohrer recalled. “I was hoping that would soon change and it did.”

Indeed. Rohrer struck out DH Tyler Keppley, then got an inning-ending fielder’s choice grounder by Brandon Eberly to pitch out of trouble.

“The way (Taylor) rebounded from the first inning (was most impressive),” Huber said. “We talk about things that are outside of your control and he gave up three cheap infield hits, and with one out, he was able to battle back, get out of it, not feel sorry for himself and I think that strength and confidence carried on the rest of the game.”

Keeping the Eagles off-balance with a nasty curve while also locating his fastball, Rohrer limited Cocalico to just three hits the rest of the way and struck out the side in the second, fourth, and seventh innings. While firing exactly 100 pitches he threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 27 batters he faced.

Combined with his one-hit shutout in a 7-0 win against Cocalico in Manheim on April 12, Rohrer is 2-0, 0.00 ERA with 23 K’s in 14 innings against the Eagles this spring.

“I just seem to have a lot of success with them,” said Rohrer, whose previous career high in strikeouts was 11 against Northern Lebanon earlier this season. “Coach says they don’t like lefties, so that might be a big part of it.”

Cocalico coach Mike Bertolino said his players needed to have a better approach against Rohrer.

“I think that (approach) contributes to some of those negative counts that we’re in and things like that and then it’s just a matter of execution,” Bertolino said. “I’ll give Taylor a ton of credit. He executed, no doubt about that. He’s a good pitcher. I’ll go a step further. I think he’s a great pitcher. And against those guys, you can’t give them that many opportunities and we did, and you see what happens. But that’s all approach.”

Rohrer’s counterpart Stricker, who finished with seven K’s and one walk, whiffed the first two batters he faced in the third, but then Lutz doubled to left-center and scored on Bryce Eberly’s single just inside the third base bag to make it 2-0.

“Tyler pitched great,” Bertolino said. “And we knew that runs were going to be at a premium today and these are the games where you love to run, you love to bunt, and you do those things. But if you don’t have any base runners, I don’t know how you do those things. We can’t call ghost runners, not in this league. So it’s frustrating. I’m not going to lie to you or sugarcoat it. It’s frustrating.”

Central tacked on a big run in the top of the seventh as Simon (1-for-2, 2 HBP) singled to right, chasing Stricker with 101 pitches, and then Nate Loser greeted reliever Nathaniel Martin with an infield single and Lutz singled to left, extending the Barons’ advantage to 3-0.

That was plenty for Rohrer, who yielded a leadoff single to Cocalico’s Brandon Eberly in the bottom of the seventh inning. But the Barons’ lefty proceeded to strike out Brady Sawyer, Drew Myers and Stricker to end it.

The Eagles came into Monday’s match-up fresh off a pair of solid victories late last week.

Last Wednesday at Northern Lebanon, the Eagles rallied for six runs in the top of the seventh to overcome a 4-1 deficit and clinch a big 7-4 victory over the Vikings.

Keppley, who pitched one inning to earn the victory, knocked in two Cocalico runs with a big hit while Brady Sawyer scored a pair of runs and had two steals in the victory.

Cocalico followed up that effort with perhaps its biggest win of the season Thursday in a 12-4 victory on the road at second place Garden Spot.

The Eagles scored five runs in the top of the first and added six more runs in the third to open up a bit 11-0 lead before cruising the rest of the way.

Offensively, Cocalico pounded out 15 hits on the day, including home runs by Lucky, Justin Burd and Keppley. Drew Sawyer, Lucky, Eberly, Stricker and Burd all had two hits to pace the winners.

On the hill, Harven went four-plus innings in relief of starter Drew Myers to pick up the win.

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