May 4—Gov. Mifflin baseball coach Chris Hole has used senior Aaron Renninger in multiple positions this season.
Renninger caught for a long while and began Monday's Berks League crossover game against Twin Valley at second base. When Matt Gehris reached the 100-pitch limit in the sixth inning, Hole called on Renninger to finish.
"Aaron has been the jack of all trades for us," Hole said. "He was outstanding today."
Renninger recorded the final five outs and went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs to lead the Mustangs past the Raiders 5-4 at Shillington.
With Sean Kennedy on third base after his RBI triple and one out in the sixth, Renninger threw out Kennedy at home on a squeeze bunt and retired the next batter. In the seventh, Twin Valley had two runners on before he struck out Aiden Jackson to end it.
"I was a bit nervous," Renninger said. "I just had to stay calm and do the job. That's it."
He also delivered at the plate, stroking a run-scoring double in the second and an RBI single in the fourth that broke a 3-3 tie.
"He started slowly and struggled early in the year," Hole said. "But man, oh, man, he's been turning it on in the last week. He's been producing for us. He's been coming up big."
The victory all but clinched a BCIAA playoff berth for Mifflin (7-2 Berks I, 12-5). The Mustangs, who are scheduled to play Reading High in a doubleheader Tuesday, need one more win or an Exeter loss.
They missed the playoffs in 2019 after 11 consecutive appearances and 15 in the previous 17 seasons. When preseason practice began, Hole said he wasn't sure whether they would be a playoff team this year.
"I thought we had a nice nucleus coming back," he said. "When you have 13 seniors, you have some kids who have experience and can play. Once the season began and (Connor) Maryniak and Gehris were holding teams to no runs or one run, I started to believe."
The Mustangs received another outstanding pitching performance from Gehris, a senior right-hander who struck out 14 and walked four in 5 1/3 innings. He struggled a bit in the third inning when he allowed two walks and an infield single before Danny Eden's three-run double.
He threw very effectively otherwise on a day when his curveball was not at its best.
"His fastball on the outside corner was working so well today," said catcher Kobe Cabret. "He's a very good pitcher and very consistent."
Twin Valley (3-5 Berks II, 8-7), on the other hand, has little margin for error in its remaining five games.
"We have to win every game to have a chance at counties or districts," coach John Summers said.
The Raiders hurt themselves by committing five errors and allowing four unearned runs. They've committed 17 errors in their last six games.
"Defense has been a thorn in our side," Summers said. "Hats off to Mifflin. They made us pay for all the mistakes."
The Mustangs also had some timely hits. Renninger's double and single and Mason Woolwine's RBI single in the fifth all came with two outs.
Defense was a huge factor, too. Cabaret threw out Matt Passerini at second base on an attempted steal after Renninger hit him with a pitch to lead off the seventh.
"We always preach pitching and defense," Hole said. "That's our bread and butter. When we play a clean game behind the pitchers that we have, most times we're going to be successful."