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Griffith shuts down Warwick in Mounts’ win
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Ephrata right-hander Seth Griffith is someone you would describe as a pitcher who throws to contact.
Facing a Warwick team on Monday that was averaging 10 runs per game during a six-game winning streak, that could have been a cause for concern.
Particularly if the Mounts’ offense didn’t put up some runs.
But Ephrata’s game plan worked out for them. Paul Larusso, Matt Herbener and Bobby Nye had two hits apiece to lead an attack that took an 8-0 lead and Griffith tossed a complete-game gem, as the Mounts knocked off the Warriors 8-1 in a crossover game between Section leaders in Lititz.
With the victory, combined with Conestoga Valley’s 3-1 loss to McCaskey and Solanco’s 5-1 loss to Manheim Township, Ephrata (5-1 L-L, 8-1 overall) took sole possession of first place atop the Section Two standings.
Although the Warriors (5-1 L-L, 7-3 overall) saw their win streak snapped, they still hold a one-game lead over Hempfield (4-2 L-L) in the Section One race.
"The satisfaction of winning will be over in a very short amount of time," Ephrata skipper Adrian Shelley. "We can’t afford to talk about how confident we are beyond (the fact) we’re confident that we’re showing up tomorrow at home against Township."
Griffith showed up against Warwick on Monday, throwing just 78 pitches — with 56 strikes — while keeping the Warriors at bay. He struck out two while scattering seven hits, but the junior righty capitalized on his sinker ball to record 11 ground ball outs
"I knew they’re a good team," Griffith said of Warwick, "of course, being ahead in Section One. But (my plan was) just pound the zone and let the defense make the plays."
Junior Adam Rohrbach made his first start for Warwick and went three innings in place of Zach Hurst, who was scratched due to what Warriors’ coach Bob Locker described as a minor arm issue. He didn’t allow any hits in the first inning, but a leadoff walk to Larusso (2-for-3) ended up proving costly. He advanced on a wild pitch, moved to third on Herbener’s sac bunt, and scored on Josh Gehman’s fly out to left.
It was the first of four innings that Ephrata put its leadoff runner on base, and the Mounts scored in every one of those frames. For the game, they finished with nine hits.
"Ephrata did some things well and they made our kids play small-ball defense and we made a couple mistakes," Locker said. "One of the things that really hurt us today was we put too many free runners on base. When you play a team like Ephrata, you’re aware of the kind of ball they’re going to play. Four times we put the leadoff batter on? You can’t do that. Take nothing away from them. They’re a very good baseball team."
Meanwhile, Griffith retired the first seven batters he faced, and shortstop Larusso made a stellar play to end the second inning, ranging deep in the hole to rob Cody Kimmel of a hit.
"It’s great having (Larusso) back there," Griffith remarked. "I don’t know what we’d do without him."
It was still a one-run game going to the third, but Nye (2-for-4) led off with a double to left, was balked to third and scored on Andre Good’s sacrifice fly. Clean-up hitter Brandon Miller added a two-run double to left to drive in Herbener and Gehman, and then Colin Albright’s RBI double to right, just out of the diving reach of right fielder Robert Gerofsky, pushed the Mounts’ lead to 5-0.
"This group was an inexperienced group coming into the season," Shelley remarked, "and they kind of said, ‘Whatever you want to do with us, we just want to win.’ And they’ve hit. We hit the ball hard at times again today. So sometimes we don’t have to resort to it. But the offense is starting to come into its own. It has to when you’ve hit this portion of the season. You can’t afford to have too many games where the bats are dragging."
Warwick threatened in the bottom of the fourth when Tyler Morris (2-for-3) stroked a one-out double to left-center and again in the sixth, putting two runners on base for the first time as Ian Hart legged out an infield single up the middle and Morris laced a two-out hit. But both times, Griffith pitched out of trouble.
"The kids said they had a little bit of trouble with (Griffith’s sinker), it’s not something we see all that often," Locker said. "We’ve overcome some (deficits) and come back. We just seemed a little flat. The baseball season is a funny thing. You go through cycles where you hit, you don’t hit, you hit, you don’t hit. It’s only game 10. We’re halfway through the season. In the course of a baseball season, this stuff happens."
The Mounts continued to hit in the top of the fourth. Larusso’s run-scoring single to left and Gehman’s RBI ground out made it 7-0 off reliever Caleb Metzler, and then Herbener’s RBI single to deep short in the sixth plated the Mountaineers’ final run.
In their final at-bats, the Warriors put their first two batters on board with singles by Grant Zimmerman and Kimmel. Both runners advanced on Alec Rhoads’ ground out, following an eight-pitch at-bat, and Zimmerman scored on a balk.
But it wasn’t enough.
"It’s one game in a 20-game season," Locker said. "They played a good game, we played a bad game. I told my kids, ‘I really hope we see them again. That means we’re both in the playoffs at the end of the year, which would be a great thing for both of us.’ We’ve just got to come back from this. We’ve got to learn from it, we’ve got another game tomorrow and a game Wednesday, so it’s no time to sit and worry about it. We’ve got to fix the things that need fixed and move on."
Last Wednesday, April 10, Travis Reapsome struck out 10 and tossed a complete-game three-hitter, as the Warriors completed the first half of their Section One schedule with a 5-0 shutout of Hempfield in Landisville.
Tyler Morris, who is hitting .429 for the season, went 2-for-3 with a triple to lead the offensive attack. Kimmel, Seth Earle, Ben Keyser, Braidy Weiler and Robert Gerofsky all had RBI’s for the Warriors, who scored all they needed with a four-run fourth-inning rally off of Hempfield starter Chris Schroll. More WARRIORS, page B-8