Plodding along with a 4-0 lead the Mules appeared to be assured a Section II opening day win. They learned that plodding is not enough. Some times it pays to gallop, particularly if a hungry bear is in pursuit. That became evident on Monday, April 3, when the Elizabethtown Bears overcame a four run deficit to defeat the Golden Mules by a 7-4 score, ending Solanco's consecutive win streak at three.
Solanco scored in the bottom of the first when Nic Lewis worked Bobby Kozma for a leadoff free pass, stole second and scored on a Ben Miller RBI double. They added three more runs in the bottom of the second on a Andrew Schomp leadoff walk, a Tim Megonigal triple, a hit batsman, stolen base and a Miller sacrifice fly.
E-town answered the challenge when they touched Solanco starter Josh Hershberger for three runs in the top of the third. Hershberger escaped damage in the first when E-town struck for two consecutive singles to place runners at the corners. The junior right-hander collected himself by getting Nate Martin, the number three hitter, to ground into a 4-6-3 double play and a harmless fly ball to center ended the inning.
Hershberger retired the side in order in the top of the second, but the third proved costly. A single, sacrifice bunt, walk and single brought the E-town number three hitter to the plate. This time Martin lofted one deep to center for a three-run double.
After retiring the Mules in order in the bottom of the third, the Bears tied it up in the top of the fourth. An error and walk forced Coach Dave Wimer to bring in junior right hander Mitch Nesbitt in relief of Hershberger. Nesbitt surrendered a single to load the bases, but got the next two Bears on strikeouts. A single to left scored one run, but Lewis, the leftfielder threw to Miller, the cutoff man, who turned and fired a strike to Schomp, the catcher, nailing the runner at the plate to end the threat.
Again Solanco threatened when Miller led off the inning with a single but was erased on a Jordan McMillion fielder's choice. McMillion moved to third on a Josh Foley two-out single, but was left stranded when T. J. Wolle popped up to second.
The game winner occurred in the sixth when Justin Umberger took a Nesbitt pitch deep to left for a leadoff home run. E-town added two more in the inning on a walk, one-out single, error and a single that drove in two.
Solanco threatened in both the sixth and seventh inning, but the final chapter was closed when Erick Baker struck out two Mules after issuing two one-out walks.
Solanco hosts Conestoga Valley, a 10-1 winner over Garden Spot, on Friday, April 7, before traveling to Ephrata, who lost an 8-6 thriller to Manheim Central, on Monday, April 10. Wednesday afternoon the Mules head to New Holland to battle the Spartans.