The 3-6 record for the Biglerville American Legion baseball team would indicate otherwise, but manager Gary Bretzman truly believes that Post 262 can make some noise in the playoffs, if only it can get the opportunity.
His boys dropped another decision that makes his case in a 3-1 loss to McConnellsburg at Oakside Community Park on Tuesday.
A two-run second fueled by three errors was all that separated the pair of teams on opposite sides of the standings. Colten Devilbiss and Logan Brewer allowed four hits and six walks combined while pinning down the second-best team in the Franklin County league. Devilbiss also knocked home a run on a double.
“They had four hits, we had four hits,” Bretzman said. “We made four errors and that was the difference, plain and simple. That makes it hard to win a baseball game. You’re not going to beat a good team like that.”
In nearly every outing between these two teams over the last three seasons, the game had to be resumed at a later date due to weather conditions, Bretzman said. On Tuesday, storm clouds surrounded a field frequently invaded by strong gusts of winds and smatterings of rain drops. From the first pitch, the threat of postponement seemed all but a certainty, yet it never came.
The first inning went off without a hitch. After Devilbiss walked the leadoff man, a zippy grounder found the glove of the shortstop, Brewer, who flipped it quickly to second baseman Cameron Hartzel, who then fired to first for a double play to escape the inning.
A scoreless bottom brought McConnellsburg back to the plate. Pockets of clouds distributed rain at odd frequencies as they took their cuts.
Colton Souders led off with a low-lining single to right and stole second. Lucas McClain pushed another grounder back up the middle and an error in center allowed one run to score without challenge.
Devilbiss came back to strike out the side, but not before errors at short and third allowed McClain to come around as well.
“They’re a strong offensive team and have a lot of college guys playing for them,” Devilbiss said. “We played well, it was just a couple of plays that kept us out of it. I don’t know that I could have thrown much better.”
McConnellsburg’s only earned run came in the third, when McClain walked and Brycen Hohman slashed an RBI triple to the right-center gap.
McConnellsburg starter Walker Funk walked a pair with two outs in the bottom of the frame and Devilbiss lofted a double into no-man’s land down the right field line to score Tyler Weikert for his team’s only run.
“I was just trying to hit the ball the opposite way,” Devilbiss said. “They were staying away from me the whole game. I didn’t hit it solid, but it was deep enough to get me to second base.”
The two-out rally was the only one of the four of its kind that Biglerville capitalized on. Bretzman said the strike zone felt inconsistent on the low end.
Devilbiss recovered after the fourth, finishing 4.2 innings while allowing three hits and five walks. Brewer walked one, but did not allow a hit until the second to last batter he faced. Hohman poked a single through the left side before a groundout ended McConnellsburg’s offensive chances.
Funk allowed only one hit after the fourth, a two-out single to left by Weikert in the fifth. Kyle Gillingham came to the plate next. On an 0-2 pitch, he got just a little too far under a shot to left that forced Logan Deshong to crash into the fence just after catching the ball for the final out of the inning.
Devilbiss appeared to look for a launch-angle shot to start the sixth. With two away and a man on first in the bottom of the seventh, Brewer did the same, only to pop out in foul territory beside first base.
Bretzman felt the team felt confident after popping four homers in a 7-6 victory over Shippensburg on Monday, but said there was more strategy in the longball swings than brash attitudes.
“Once you get to five innings, we really needed a lead,” he said. “It could rain any minute at that point. We might have gotten a little greedy, but it was fun to watch (Monday) night. They hit some balls hard.”
Biglerville stuck with first-place Waynesboro in an eight-inning contest to start the season. Post 262 also lost 4-2 to Chambersburg after giving up a pair in the seventh.
With a full group all back from vacation, Bretzman hopes his team can defend last year’s Division 2 regional tournament title. This year’s tournament, with a bracket comprised of teams from small school districts, begins the third week in July, Bretzman said.
Biglerville should like its chances with a pair of devastating hurlers. Ben Bretzman is a Pennsylvania School of Technology commit, playing Division 3, and Devilbiss is headed to Davis & Elkins to play Division 2 baseball.
“I’m looking forward to seeing big arms all the time,” Devilbiss said of his commitment. “That’s the best part of playing summer ball, all the kids that can throw the ball well get together.”
Of course, Biglerville will have to get through McConnellsburg, or whoever defeats their Franklin County rival in the small division tournament.
“We’re better than our record,” Bretzman said. “We are 3-6, but we could just as easily be 6-3.”
McConnellsburg 021 000 0 — 3 4 1
Biglerville 001 000 0 — 1 4 4
Colton Devilbiss, Logan Brewer (5) and Kyle Gillingham. Funk and Souders. WP: Funk. LP: Devilbiss. K-BB: Devilbiss 6-5, Brewer 1-1, Funk 7-1. 2B: B- Devilbiss 3B: M- Hohman.