Ephrata eliminates Lititz from District 10 Tournament Manheim also fails to advance
By: TODD RUTH Record Staff email@example.com, Staff Writer
Sometimes through the course of a long baseball tournament, teams can simply tire from logging so many innings over such a short period of time.
When that happens, bats get slower, pitching gets thin and mistakes begin to happen. That appeared to be the case with the Lititz Post 56 legion team Monday night in the District 10 League Tournament at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field.
Down to the final three teams remaining in the tournament, Lititz needed a win against unbeaten Ephrata to keep its season alive. Unfortunately, the Post 56’ers simply ran out of gas.
Lititz collected just three hits offensively against Ephrata pitcher Scott Liebl. And defensively, the usually sound Lititz gloves committed six errors which led to six unearned runs.
In the end, Ephrata moved on to Tuesday’s championship opposite SWS with an 8-1 victory.
"We just didn’t hit," Lititz Coach Steve Chretien said. "Also, if we would have made the (defensive) plays it would have been a better game. Six errors…You simply can’t win games when that happens."
With the loss, Lititz closes out the season at 8-9.
"It was a pretty good year," Chretien said. "We battled. It was just the luck of the draw. The bottom line is we just didn’t hit. I think all the momentum we had last night (after knocking out New Holland, 13-11) kind of deflated us a little today."
Ephrata scored an unearned run in the bottom of the first after loading the bases with a pair of errors and a walk. Ryan Schwark then drew a bases-loaded walk from Lititz starter Ben Gingrich for the 1-0 lead.
Ephrata then broke it open over the next two innings, scoring three runs in each frame to go up 7-0. Ephrata was aided by a pair of errors in the second inning, leading to the three spot. Ephrata took advantage of another Lititz miscue in the third which led to two of the three runs in that inning as well.
Meanwhile, Lititz did have Liebl on the ropes in nearly every inning but the Ephrata pitcher was able to wriggle out of danger. Lititz scored its lone run of the game in the third after Justin Nolt was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Adam Marshall doubled to the right field fence before Brady Weiler followed with an RBI single to plate Nolt.
Nolt’s sixth inning single was the only other hit off Liebl, who was making his first legion start of the season for Ephrata. Liebl finished with three strikeouts and four walks en route to the victory.
Gingrich, one of three Lititz pitchers on the night, went two innings and took the loss.
Lititz advanced to Monday’s game after winning a thrilling 13-11 contest against Conestoga Valley Sunday afternoon in a loser’s bracket game.
It looked like this would be an easy day for Lititz after scoring seven runs in the top of the second. However, it was anything but easy after CV responded for four runs in the third and six more in the fourth to go up 10-7.
It stayed that way until the top of the sixth when Lititz rallied for a six-run burst to take the lead for good at 13-10.
Derrick Shields led off the sixth with a double to start off the rally. He quickly moved to third on a wild pitch before coming home on a sac fly by Andrew Geraghty to make it 10-8. Then, after plating an unearned run to cut the deficit to within one, another sac fly by Ben Keyster tied the game at 10-10. Ian Hart then delivered an RBI single before Louis Casanova knocked in the final two runs of the inning on an RBI triple .
"It’s huge win for us," Chretien said following the game. "To drop a seven spot on them in the second inning and you think that we might be running into a 10-run game… Then all of a sudden we are down 10-7… Wow…It’s a big win and it’s a credit to these guys for sticking with it. The guys got in deep counts (in the sixth) and came up with some huge two-strike hits. That’s key. That’s what you have to have to have a successful team."
Zach Hurst came on in relief in the bottom of the sixth and got out of a jam by rolling an inning ending doubleplay, although CV did score a run in the inning. Then in the seventh, Hurst set CV down one-two-three to cap a wild win.
In first-round action last Thursday, Marshall went 2-for-4 with two RBI’s to help support the pitching of Logan Kurtz, as Lititz defeated Manheim 8-2 at Lampeter-Strasburg High School.
After the third-seeded Post 56’ers took an early 3-0 lead in the second inning, 6th-seeded Manheim clawed back to 3-2. But Marshall ripped a solo blast to left field in the bottom of the fifth and then added an RBI double in the sixth, providing some key insurance. Brian Eshleman also added a key two-run double in the sixth inning.
Plus, Kurtz got a big hand from his defense, with outfielders Hurst and Caleb Metzler both making nice diving catches, and his infield turning a crucial double play with the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
"Defense wins games," Chretien said. "I’ve been saying it all year long. If you get good pitching and defense, we’ll scratch out a run here and there and that’s all you’ve got to do … Everyone contributed — it was a good win."
The victory halted a six-game regular-season ending skid by the Post 56’ers.
"I had a lot of concerns," Chretien said. "Normally, we don’t really practice much during the season because everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. But we had two practices between the last game and today, and obviously it helped."
Having a full lineup for the first time this season also helped, and RBI base hits by Hurst (2-for-4) and Shields (2-for-3) off of Manheim pitcher Ryan Wilson, along with an RBI ground out by Korey Johnson, put Lititz up 3-0 in the second.
Meanwhile, Kurtz retired the first nine batters he faced, but Manheim’s first two batters in the fourth — Travis Fisher and Josh Good — reached base on hits and Evan Moyer followed with an RBI double. Austin Winters then smashed a drive to right, but Metzler made a diving web gem to save a lot of trouble.
"Huge," Chretien said. "It saved two runs, for sure. That’s a big league play."
From there, Kurtz got out of the jam with a strikeout and a ground out.
"It seemed like we couldn’t hit tonight, for some reason," Manheim’s Wilson said. "Any other night, we’re hitting good solid line drives. It just seemed like we couldn’t get on a roll with our bats. That kinda killed us."
Another thing that killed Manheim was a Lititz double play after they loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. Wilson, who worked the first of two walks issued by Kurtz in the inning, scored on the play, making it 3-2, but that’s as close as Manheim would get.
"I’ll trade a double play any day for a run," Chretien said.
Wilson pitched well in 4 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking two while throwing 76 pitches. But Marshall’s home run and Hurst’s RBI single to left pushed Lititz’s lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
They added three more in the sixth off of reliever Derik Fahnestock on Marshall’s RBI double and Eshleman’s two-run double to center field.
That was enough for Kurtz, who struck out four and walked four over six innings for the win. He gave up two runs on five hits before handing the ball over to Chris Martin, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning to seal it.
Lititz was sent to the loser’s bracket of the tournament following a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Ephrata Saturday evening.
With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Ephrata’s Brandon Miller came all the way around from first base on a throwing error on Paul Larusso’s sacrifice bunt to give the host team a walk-off victory.
Weiler’s RBI single plated Shields as Lititz broke on top early with a run in the top of the first.
Ephrata’s Miller responded with a two-run single off Lititz starter Marshall in the second before both Marshall and Ephrata starter Evan Young settled in.
Marshall kept Ephrata off the board through six while Young didn’t allow another Lititz run until the top half of that inning.
Both Marshall and Weiler walked to open the inning. Then, after Young recorded a pair of pop ups, Metzler came through with a clutch two-out single to tie the game at 2-2.
That set the stage for the bottom of the seventh when Miller drew a walk to lead off the inning. Larusso followed with a bunt down the third-base line. Jon Beyer fielded the bunt but threw wildly down the first base line. Miller raced all the way around and did not stop until he scored the winning run.
Young went six strong innings, striking out five and walking three before Miller pitched the bottom of the seventh to secure the Ephrata win.
Marshall pitched well also for Lititz, striking out three and walking just one while scattering eight Ephrata hits.
Dusten Rutt and Branden Rutt each had two hits to pace the winners. Weiler had two of his team’s four hits in the loss.
After being forced to the loser’s bracket following it’s loss to Lititz, Manheim was eliminated from the double-elimination tourney Saturday in a 7-3 loss to Marietta at Ephrata.
After struggling at the plate the previous three games, Manheim started hitting again and finished the game with 11 hits. However, even with much improved hitting, Manheim could not put enough hits together to score until the sixth inning, when they produced their three runs.
Jon Karns led off the inning with a single, and advanced to second on a ground out at first by Trey Eberly. Phil Gerhart then drew a walk, and with runners on first and second, Troy Reiff hit a triple to right-center field scoring Karns and Gerhart.
In another excellent at bat, Brandon Guffey then reached first with a full-count walk. Fahnestock’s single then advanced Guffey to second. Now, with the bases loaded and one out, Josh Good hit a line drive to left field that was misplayed by the left fielder, scoring Troy Reiff from third.
The seventh inning saw two more Manheim batters reach base, but the inning ended when a long drive by Guffey to deep right-center fell just feet short of the fence and was caught by Marietta’s center fielder.
Marietta pitcher Mike Houseal went the distance for the win, striking out five and walking just two. Houseal also led his offense, knocking in four runs for the game.
Manheim’s Mitchell Burkholder took the loss, going four innings with two Ks and five walks.
Manheim ends the season at 7-8. More LEGION, page B3