Keystone State Bombers cruise to 13U Spring Invitational title

By DN WRITING STAFF | March 18, 2024

By Rich Bevensee

Everything was lining up nicely for Lucas Eaby this winter. He joined the Keystone State Bombers baseball club full time, and he was anxious to show his teammates what kind of pitcher they were getting with the season opener less than two weeks away.

But while throwing at the team’s facility in Manheim, a Lancaster County borough in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania, he tweaked a muscle in his back. The resulting pain was severe enough for him to consider missing the season opening weekend at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

The Bombers discovered Eaby is a gamer in more ways than one. With his back still causing him discomfort this weekend, Eaby insisted he was ready to pitch in the championship game of the 13U Spring Invitational and presented his teammates with a gem.

The young right-hander scattered three hits over 3⅔ scoreless innings and boosted the Bombers to a 10-2 title-winning victory over the Chatham Cougars on Sunday afternoon. 

“I did something at practice — I threw one pitch and tweaked my back — so I’ve been working that out,” Eaby said. “Today I was in a little bit of pain. I didn’t think I was going to be able to pitch today, but I did because I felt better, and I pitched well.”

Eaby, named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for his bat and his arm, struck out three and stranded three runners in scoring position in the final with a steady stream of fastballs, sliders and changeups. 

In the bottom of the third inning the first two Chatham batters reached via a base hit and an error, but Eaby escaped damage by retiring the next three batters, two by strikeout. 

“He pounds the zone. That’s it,” Hess said. “He’s played with our team the last three years but now he’s full-time. And every time he pitched for us, he pounded the zone and did what we had to do to win. He’s a competitor.

“Lucas was something like 10-for-12 batting this weekend and he pitched a gem, so that seals the deal for us.”

The Bombers supported Eaby’s effort by consistently putting the ball in play and keeping the pressure on the Chatham defense.

Keystone scored five times in the top of the first thanks to RBI singles by Will Flurry and Paxton Groff, and some Chatham miscues.

MVP Lucas Eaby pitched 3.2 scoreless innings in the championship game for the Bombers.

The first of two big offensive blows for Keystone came from McCoy Nye, who blasted a drive to deep center field and scored standing up on an inside-the-park solo homer in the bottom of the third inning. 

Jacob Gonzalez contributed a two-run single in the fourth which gave the Bombers a 9-0 lead. 

Eaby said he wasn’t surprised his teammates looked as sharp as they did, considering it was the first weekend of live baseball and the expectation may have been some time was needed to shake off the rust. 

“I’m not surprised. Actually I think we could have played better,” Eaby said. “We made a few errors, had little baserunning mistakes and we still won. This is exciting but we can also learn from our mistakes.”

“Really, the expectation any time we come out is that we want to play good, solid baseball, compete at the best level we can and see where we end up,” Hess said. “Winning a tournament may be a little bit unexpected but this is a really good team and I’m not surprised they did.”

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