Eagles clinch series from Manheim
Cocalico snapped a 2-2 tie with the Manheim VFW on RBI’s by Jude Anthony and Colby Zimmerman in the bottom of the fifth inning, and then pitcher Austin Ruzika-Porter did the rest, earning a complete-game decision as the Eagles advanced in a best-of-three New Era Midget-Midget Tournament first-round series with a 4-3 win last Friday night.
Combined with its 7-3 victory at Manheim last Wednesday, June 25, Cocalico prevailed in the series two games to none. The New Era’s double-elimination final four gets underway next Monday, July 7 at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.
With Manheim looking to pull even in the series, the visitors got a solid start in that direction by taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first off of Ruzika-Porter. Cam Eberly walked leading off the game, stole second and went to third on Hunter Hess’ ground out. A Cocalico throwing error on Jake Harbach’s comebacker to the mound allowed Eberly to score the game’s first run. Later, Harbach attempted to double Manheim’s lead on a passed ball, but was tagged out by catcher Anthony to end the threat.
It didn’t take long for the Eagles to answer. With one out in the home half of the first, Anthony singled off of Manheim pitcher Hunter Hess and Ruzika-Porter was hit by a pitch.One out later, Colby Zimmerman’s RBI single drove in Anthony, while Ruzika-Porter crossed the plate with the go-ahead run on a throwing error by shortstop Eberly.
In the top of the second inning, Manheim’s No. 6 hitter Cole Lastinger came through with a game-tying RBI single, driving in Colby Wagner, who led off the inning with a walk, to tie the game at 2-all.
From there, Hess and Ruzika-Porter settled into a pitcher’s dual in the middle innings, each allowing just one base hit in the third and fourth frames.
With the game still tied 2-2 in the fifth, Manheim threatened with two outs to pull ahead. Riley McGallicher stroked a base hit to center and Eberly followed with a single of his own.
McGallicher looked to advance to third base on a passed ball, but third baseman Zimmerman put the tag on him after taking a strike from catcher Adam Rhoads.
Riding the momentum from that play, the Eagles capitalized on three singles, a hit batsman and a sacrifice bunt to go in front 4-2 in the bottom half.
Manheim, however, didn’t go quietly.
With just one more opportunity, the VFW rallied in the top of the sixth. Hess reached base on a fielding error by Eberly, Harbach blooped a single over the third baseman’s head and Colton Book’s infield single loaded the bases. Hess made it a one-run game, scoring on Colby Wagner’s fielder’s choice, leaving runners at the corners.
A passed ball allowed the potential go-ahead run, Wagner, to advance to second base, but Ruzika-Porter got the second out on a K and then put it in the books with a game-ending pop out back to the mound.