By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
— MANDATA -- Mac Ney lost some playing time and more than a little sleep to a late-game strikeout in Monday's nonleague loss to Susquenita.
The frustration of coming up empty with the bases loaded haunted the Upper Dauphin junior from the batter's box to the mound, where he helped dig the Trojans' grave.
Tuesday was a new day with another game, and, well-rested or not, Ney was a different player.
He had three hits, drove in two runs and scored twice in the first five innings as Upper Dauphin forged a five-run lead at Line Mountain.
"I've always loved to play the game and like to succeed in it, and (Monday) when it didn't go right for me it got a little under my skin," said Ney. "I was pretty angry at myself, and I definitely lost a little bit of sleep. I thought about it all day in school, what I can do to correct it, and came out here and did it."
The Trojans got three solid innings of relief from both Jordan Hubler and Kyle Glouner, and pushed the Eagles from a crowded tier of one-loss teams in the Tri-Valley League with an 11-8 win.
Upper Dauphin (5-3) is tied atop the TVL standings at 5-1 with East Juniata, which beat the Trojans in the season opener. Halifax and Newport are close behind at 4-1 in the league.
Line Mountain, playing without slugging outfielder Erik Smeltz (injured shoulder), dropped to 3-2 overall and TVL.
"We had instances when we could have folded and we didn't. We kept battling and I was happy with the way we battled back," said Eagles coach Jon Raker. "You get down five runs to one of the best teams in the league and you battled back and give yourself an opportunity in the last inning with the tying run at the plate and the top of the order coming up. You can't ask for more than a chance at the end of the game."
Ney had run-scoring hits in each of his first two at-bats, helping to spark a pair of three-run innings. He doubled in Ian Buffington in the second and scored on a Tanner Miller single. He then drove in Payton Kennerly (2-for-4) with an infield single in the third.
"I was just comfortable when I got here, and I knew if I just focused on the ball I could hit it all around," said Ney. "Before the game, Coach (Ryan Lentz) said he was moving me down to the nine spot to see more fastballs, and I used that to my advantage and sat (on the) fastball and hit that."
"I talked to him before the game -- him and Ian (Buffington) -- and said, 'Look, I'm not punishing you guys by putting you in the eight- and nine-holes.' I thought, maybe, they were putting too much pressure on themselves," said Lentz. "By sliding (Ney) down, he seemed to produce a little better in the nine-hole."
Ney led off the fifth with a hit and scored on Glouner's two-run single. Glouner, a freshman, promoted from junior varsity last week, is 7-for-11 on the varsity level.
"He puts the bat on the ball and makes plays," said Lentz. "There's not a whole lot more I can ask of anybody -- in any grade."
Line Mountain committed an error in each of the first three innings. The first two plated Trojans' runs, while the latter two eventually came around to score. Only one of Upper Dauphin's seven early runs was earned.
"Sometimes you make an error and it doesn't cost you. Other times, it seems, every time you make an error they score runs off the errors," said Raker. "We had opportunities to make plays and limit them. That's also high school baseball: You put the ball in play and make the defense make the plays, and, if they don't, sometimes you can get big innings."
Senior catcher Britton Heim was 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs for the Eagles. Austin Snyder added a pair of hits.