Spring, Blue Devil baseball, arrive for new season, field

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
G-A’s Danny Stepler was able to cruise in for a stolen base against Shippensburg.

Spring means it’s time for baseball and while Blue Devils took a hard-luck loss on its new home field to start the season, the road was kind. G-A’s varsity team collected wins over Littlestown (13-3) and Gettysburg (12-4) and at home fell short, 7-5, to Shippensburg in eight innings.

G-A turned in its opening-game victory by the 10-run rule. Justin Hovey handled all seven innings for the Blue Devils, tossing a four-hitter with nine strikeouts. Just one of the three runs were earned and he issued just one free pass.

The Devils took a 3-0 lead over the first three frames before the Thunderbolts tied it in the next two innings. G-A rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth to regain the advantage and exploded for seven in the top of the seventh for lots of insurance and left it to Hovey to close the door in the bottom.

The three-run sixth was highlighted by a solo homer from Ashtin Byers and in the seventh Jake Crist delivered a three-RBI double. Denver Cordell and Holden Baker each collected three hits and Byers a pair. Baker drove in five runs with his effort.

The game was a quick warmup before the Mid-Penn Conference Colonial Division schedule started with Shippensburg coming to town Thursday. Instead of taking the field at its 30-plus year home at Charles “Whitey” Barkdoll Field on the Jerome R. King Playground, the Devils played this one on the newly remodeled baseball field at the school complex with most of the amenities still unfinished. And the game was a bit topsy-turvy with six ties or lead changes.

Danny Stepler and Holden Baker teamed up for several early runs for the Devils as Stepler set the table with hits and stealing bases before Baker drove him home. Ashtin Byers also knocked in a run in the early going. The definitive tying run for the Devils came in the bottom of the sixth as Adam Moore scored on Baker’s fielder’s choice. G-A had winning the game in its sights in the last of the seventh when Denver Cordell singled and stole second, but Byers’ deep fly ball was gloved by the Greyhounds.

After Ship took the lead in the top of the eighth inning with a walk, single, double steal and a two-RBI double, G-A looked like another comeback was approaching. The Devils got two base runners, but both were stranded as a groundout accounted for the last out. Denver Cordell and Stepler each had two hits and Baker accumulated the three RBIs.

The Blue Devils took the loss out on Gettysburg with an 18-hit offensive outburst en route to the eight-run victory to go to 2-1 and 1-1 in the division. The bottom of the order came through strongly with a 9-for-12 effort, as three hits each came from Hovey, Baker and Corey Meyers. Crist also rounded up a trio of basehits. In fact, all nine hitters for the Blue Devils had at least one basehit. Hovey and Moore each had two RBIs. Jesse Beeler went five and two-thirds for the win.

Junior varsity

The junior varsity baseball team has been busy in the early-season, going 3-1 as follows:

March 23 — G-A 10, Mercersburg  Academy 5: Thomas Bowers, Kristian Sheeley, Kurt Hansen and Eugene Byers had two hits each with Bowers and Byers hitting doubles and Sheeley adding a double and triple.  Bowers and Sheeley drove in two runs each and Shank and Byers knocked in single runs. Eli Englehart and Conner Shank (double) added run-scoring hits.  Jesse Beeler went four innings, striking out three to pick up the win. Shank threw two innings, striking out three and Josh Ehko threw a scoreless seventh.

March 26 — G-A 12, Littlestown 2: Despite only connecting for four hits, the Blue Devils took advantage of a generous Littlestown squad en route to a five-inning win. Littlestown was in a giving mood. Thunderbolt pitchers walked two and hit four batters and their defense committed five errors to seal their fate. Wayne Kline had two hits and four RBIs for the Devils. Englehart and Elijah Webster added singles for G-A with Webster driving in two and Englehart one. Kurt Hansen went all five innings, fanning five to pick up the win.

March 28 — Shippensburg 3, G-A 2: Shippensburg scored two in the second and one in the third and held on for the victory. G-A managed just four hits with three of those coming in the two-run fifth. Kline, Bowers, Sheeley and Englehart had the Devil hits with Kline and Bowers picking up the RBIs. Bowers was the tough-luck loser, going five innings while striking out four. Dom Guess threw two scoreless innings of relief, striking out one to keep the Devils within striking distance.

March 30 — G-A 8, Gettysburg 6: Dalton Webster and Bowers led the way at the plate and the Devils hung on to turn back the Warriors 8-6. Webster collected a double amongst his three hits while driving in four and Bowers added two hits and two RBIs. Englehart, Sheeley and Guess added hits for the Devils. Eugene Byers picked up the win, going four innings while striking out six. Ehko pitched two scoreless innings while striking out one and Conner Shank, after getting into some trouble, managed to escape a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to close out the victory.