SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — It had been 10 years since the Carlisle baseball team had seen action in the District 3 playoffs.
Former Mid-Penn Commonwealth foe Cumberland Valley made sure the Thundering Herd’s appearance this year lasted only one game and still left them looking for their first postseason victory since 1984.
The No. 5 Eagles scored five runs in the first two innings and held on for the 5-0 victory over No. 12 Carlisle in the District 3 Class 6A first round Tuesday afternoon.
Things began promisingly for Carlisle as leadoff hitter Austin Orris stroked a first-pitch, eye-high fastball into the gap for a single. Henry Smith laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Orris into scoring position for the heart of the batting order. But Cumberland Valley starter Jason Madrak struck out the dangerous Jace Fetterman and induced Jonas Fowler to ground out, ending the threat.
“We had our chances in the first couple of innings,” Carlisle head coach Chris Barnett said. “Against a caliber team like that with one out and a guy in scoring position, you’ve got to get him in. You’re not going to get many of those opportunities, so when you do, you need to capitalize.”
Cumberland Valley (16-5) wasted little time in the bottom half of the inning, jumping out to a lead as left fielder Jackson Boone delivered a bases-loaded infield single to draw first blood. Designated hitter Ryan Rubin followed with a grounder that ate up third baseman Colin Lloyd, scoring another.
The Eagles kept their bats going in the next frame against Herd starter Fowler. Back-to-back singles from Padraig Hernjak and Logan Sauve, followed by a Joshua Minnich triple and single from Madrak, plated three to give Cumberland Valley the 5-0 advantage.
Nethaneail Miller worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning to secure the victory for the Eagles.
“I got emotional because this is my last season,” Barnett said. “I think this game was a microcosm of the season. We had our chances. Sometimes we didn’t take advantage of those chances, but in the end, we fought. That’s all I’ve ever asked of these guys.”
Madrak was brilliant on the bump for six innings before he reached his pitch count limits. The junior right-hander held a Carlisle team that averaged 7.4 runs per game while collectively batting .324 to only four hits over six shutout innings. Madrak struck out 10 while walking one batter.
“When he’s on he can overpower people, even top-of-the-lineup guys,” Cumberland Valley head coach Levi Mumma said. “[In the bullpen] I heard Logan catch one and say, ‘Oh, that’s nasty.’ I knew we’d have a pretty good day out of him. Logan is kind of hard to impress.”
Setting the table at the top of the order for the Eagles was Madrak’s battery mate Sauve. The West Virginia commit collected three hits and was a circus catch away from going 4-for-4 at the plate.
After Fowler exited the game for the Herd, Aaron Renninger relieved, holding the Eagles in check to give Carlisle (12-8) a fighting chance. The southpaw scattered one hit over the last 3.1 innings while striking out the side in the fourth inning.
Cumberland Valley advances to face No. 4 Warwick (14-5) in the quarterfinals Thursday afternoon in Lititz with the victory. The Top 3 teams from Class 6A qualify for the PIAA Championships.
The Eagles are seeking their fifth District 3 title, with the last one coming in 2018.
They said it
Mumma on the Herd: “We were rooting for Carlisle the whole season. That might sound crazy coming from the Valley, but we were rooting for those guys because they play the game the right way. We have a lot of respect for their coaching staff. I was anxious to play them.”
Barnett on the legacy of this team: “I think they’ve done so much for this program moving forward to show they can compete at this level. It takes a significant effort, and the young guys coming back see what it takes. We should expect this from our program for years to come.”
Email Jake Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520