Only three games into the baseball season, Delone Catholic High freshman Cody Pieper is proving to be one gem of a player for Squire head coach Alan Felix.

Against Hanover on Monday in McSherrystown, Pieper provided the theatrics both at the plate and on the mound.

He pitched seven innings, struck out 12 batters and allowed one hit -- which came in the seventh and final inning.

But more importantly, Pieper's opposite-field single through the second baseline in the bottom of the sixth inning -- the Squires' only hit of the contest -- scored C.J. Hoddinott from second base, giving Delone a 1-0 win and in the series, which goes back to Hanover in 21 days.

"He had two curveballs on me right in the beginning, and then he threw a fastball," said Pieper about Hanover's hurler, Brandon Renoll.

Delone Catholic’s Josh Hippensteel tries to stop a ground ball during Monday’s game against Hanover at Delone Catholic High School.
Delone Catholic's Josh Hippensteel tries to stop a ground ball during Monday's game against Hanover at Delone Catholic High School. (Evening Sun Photo by Meghan Gauriloff)
"And I was late on it, but I hit it."

Now begins a gruesome stretch for the Squires. They have four games in four days starting Wednesday against Fairfield and ending on Saturday against perennial District 3 power Kutztown.

"We control our destiny," said Felix, whose team is off to a 3-0 start after it was 1-2 at this point last year. "(I told them), 'The only team that beats you is yourself. Play to your potential, and you can win the games you're supposed to win.' That's what it comes down to."

In every aspect, Monday's game was a pitchers' duel.

While Pieper was outstanding in only his second varsity outing, Renoll was arguably better against a Squire lineup that was solid from front to back.

The 6-foot-1 senior, who is fielding offers from NCAA Division II schools, went the entire seven innings for the Nighthawks while striking out 11 with only two walks.

The run that crossed the plate in the sixth was unearned since it was a product of an error at third base.

"We had a lot of young kids at the bottom of the lineup that got a lot of different experiences," said Renoll. "And I think they're going to grow off this. We're not satisfied about this. We're hungry.

Hanover’s Brandon Renoll throws a pitch during Monday’s game at Delone Catholic High School. The Squires won 1-0.
Hanover's Brandon Renoll throws a pitch during Monday's game at Delone Catholic High School. The Squires won 1-0. (Evening Sun Photo by Meghan Gauriloff)
"

Renoll began the sixth frame with consecutive strikeouts of Brett Smith and Kodi Reed, and the inning looked to be over after C.J. Hoddinott smacked a grounder to third base. However, Wes Reichart bobbled the grounder and forced a throw that was late.

"They made one more play than we did," said Matt Baker, whose team drops to 1-1 and will face York County Tech on Wednesday. "That's what it came down to. Both teams put themselves in a situation to score some runs, and we would have won if they had been able to execute and make it happen."

In Hanover's case, the Nighthawks botched a situational play in the fifth inning. After Jordan Smith had reached base on a walk -- and managed to extend a steal into a two-base grab that included a Delone error -- Brandon Etzler was signaled for a squeeze bunt.

Smith left the bag before the pitch was thrown, but Etzler failed to get his bat on the ball, and Matt Fuhrman scooped up a fumbled catch and tagged out Smith at home.

"We did everything right except getting the bat on the ball," Baker said. "We waited, squared. Runner didn't give it up. We executed everything except getting the bat on the ball. That's the risk you run when you do that."

Pieper then had to deal with a difficult seventh inning. He gave up his no-hitter to Smith to begin the frame before Justin Peterman reached base on an error to shortstop.

However, three consecutive strikeouts followed, promptly ending the game.

"When you look at our schedule, you kind of expected it (the tight games) early on with the pitchers we would be facing," Felix said. "We were going to be in some tight ballgames. I didn't envision Cody matching Renoll pitch for pitch, but Cody was -- not much -- but just a little bit better today, and that was the difference in the game."

cmull@eveningsun.com
  

DELONE CATHOLIC 1, HANOVER 0
Hanover  000 000 0 -- 0 1 2
Delone Catholic  000 001 x -- 1 1 2

   Brandon Renoll and Ethan Warren; Cody Pieper and Matt Fuhrman. SO-BB -- H, Renoll 11-2; DC, Pieper 12-5. W -- Pieper. L -- Renoll.