New Oxford head coach Scott Anderson wasn’t exactly sure what he had in Jesse Bitzer when the Colonials began their high school season in late March.
Bitzer emerged as the team’s ace during the spring and carried that success over to his first start in York Adams American Legion baseball action as he led his team to an 11-1 victory over visiting Spring Grove at New Oxford on Friday evening.
“Jesse was a JV pitcher for us when he was a sophomore two years ago,” Anderson said. “We weren’t sure what he’d be for the varsity, but we felt he could help us to win games after we saw him in our scrimmages. He’s been better than that. He gives us a chance to win every time he pitches.”
Anderson continued, “That’s the performance that we’ve come to expect from Jesse. He’s such a hard worker and it’s gratifying to see him have the success that he’s having.”
Bitzer worked all six innings and allowed one run on three hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He pounded the zone with 47 strikes out of his 64 pitches.
“My defense really backs me up well,” the Bucks County Community College recruit said. “I’m not gonna blow the ball past hitters, so I try to jam them and get them roll over and hit it on the ground,”
Bitzer got around a two-out single by Brock Allison in the top of the first and then the Ox offense went to work.
New Oxford (3-1) put a three-spot on the board in the bottom of the first with Josh Bethas lacing a double to the gap in left-center to plate Mason Weaver. Then Charles Clark hit a ball that Allison couldn’t handle at second and that miscue allowed Coy Baker and Bethas to come around to score.
Spring Grove stirred up some trouble in the second when Nizey Mummert singled to begin the frame, but Bitzer induced a ground ball twin killing. Then a single by Luke Bailey and an error that allowed Drew Miller to reach gave the visitors runners on first and second,.
Bitzer fanned the next batter to end the threat.
The hosts held a 4-0 advantage in the fourth when Clark reached on a fielder’s choice to score Jacob Little, then a single by Kolton Haifley plated Weaver.
A sac fly by Eli Tome scored Trent Leggett for Spring Grove’s only tally of the contest in the fifth.
A pair of free passes and a Spring Grove error helped the hosts to hang three runs on the board in the fifth.
“Our guys had some quality at bats to draw walks tonight,” Anderson said. “They got behind in the count 0-2 a couple times and still got on base.”
Weaver enacted the mercy rule when he singled home Haifley and Jason Stewart in the bottom of the sixth.
“It really helps me to relax on the mound when I know that we have an offense that can score runs,” Bitzer said. “I don’t put pressure on myself to be perfect, because I know if I give up a few runs that our offense can get them back.”
Bethas spearheaded the Ox’s seven-hit offense with a trio of knocks, while Weaver and Clark each drove in two runs. Little scored three times and Weaver touched the dish twice,.
New Oxford returns to action on Tuesday when it welcomes Hanover.
Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas
Spring Grove 000 010 X — 1 3 5
New Oxford 310 232 X — 11 7 2
Owen Sporer, Nizey Mummert (3), Nick Vitale (5), Matt Luta (6) and Trent Leggett; Jesse Bitzer and Grant Jacoby. WP: Bitzer. LP: Sporer. SO-BB: SG-Sporer 0-1, Mummert 1-3, Vitale 2-2, Luta 1-3; NO-Bitzer 4-2. 2B: SG-Leggett; NO-Josh Bethas.