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Kurtz pitches Lititz to 5-1 win over Manheim
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
At 18 years old, they aren’t exactly grizzled veterans.
Regardless, the foursome of Louis Casnova, Derrick Shields, Andrew Geraghty and Brian Eshleman are still veterans of the diamond.
And they give the Lititz Legion baseball team a strong presence at the top of the lineup.
That was certainly the case last Sunday against back-yard rival Manheim, as those four players combined to go 6-for-13 while scoring four runs to help lead the Post 56ers to a 5-1 victory in District 10 American Legion action in Lititz.
"They’re all guys who have been playing for me for two, three years, so it’s nice to have that veteran (presence)," Lititz Legion coach Steve Chretien said. "Some of the older guys up there have played before and they’re pretty good players and have the opportunity to play at the next level."
That was all the support pitcher Logan Kurtz needed. While throwing an economic number of pitches, the right-hander tossed a three-hit gem to keep Manheim at bay.
"That’s his second straight great (performance)," Chretien said. "He doesn’t really walk anybody. He’s been spotting his fastball pretty well, so that’s nice to have."
Manheim (4-4), meanwhile, didn’t have several of its regulars for Sunday’s game, and they didn’t help their cause by making three errors behind pitchers Derik Fahnestock and Brandon Guffey.
"Typically, we field a lot better than that, but some of the guys were playing different positions today than what they normally do," Manheim skipper Tim Wilson remarked. "The pitchers did alright though. I was pretty happy with them. We’re pretty consistent, but this was one of our lackluster games."
For Manheim, the sloppy play started in the bottom of the third inning with Lititz mounting a two-out rally. Shields (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) reached on a swinging bunt and went to second on an errant pickoff throw. Geraghty then hit an infield single to deep short, and Shields scored on an overthrow at first base. After Geraghty stole second base, Eshleman smashed an RBI single to center field to put the Post 56ers up 2-0.
Meanwhile, Kurtz allowed just two Manheim base runners through the first four innings — Jon Karns reached on an error in the second and Travis Fisher worked a two-out walk in the third inning. Although Manheim hit the ball hard to center field several times, Geraghty played strong defense while recording seven putouts in the game.
"(Andrew’s) got great speed, probably one of the faster guys on the team, so he can pretty much track everything down," Chretien remarked. "He’s got a real good arm and can track everything."
"We hit a lot of balls to center field, hard," Wilson said. "We started taking the first pitch strike because for the first three innings, (Kurtz) only had like 25, 30 pitches. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. He threw well. But I’d like to see them again."
Manheim finally got their first hit when Guffey led off in the top of the fifth inning with a single to right field, but he was stranded at third base following Trey Eberly’s sac bunt and Mitch Burkholder’s two-out base hit to left field.
In the sixth inning, though, Manheim loaded the bases on a leadoff walk by Jeremie Patrick, Karns’ one-out single to center and pinch-hitter Phil Gerhart’s free pass. Guffey delivered a sac fly to center and then Kurtz eventually got out of the inning with a one-run lead still intact.
At that point, Lititz might have been regretting some lost opportunities, having left nine runners on base through five frames. But then in the sixth, Korey Johnson smashed a leadoff triple to center on a ball misjudged by Patrick, Casnova walked and stole second and Shields and Geraghty followed with back-to-back RBI singles. Ben Keyser’s sac fly drove in Shields with the third run of the inning to give Lititz a comfortable 5-1 lead.
"I think it was getting back into the swing of things," Chretien said of the runners left on base, "because obviously we had been off for basically two weeks (due to senior week). Getting your timing back and seeing some live pitching is a little bit different than seeing batting practice. So I was pleased that we hit at the end and I think we’ll carry through for the rest of the season now."
In the seventh, Kurtz helped his own cause by starting a double play on a comebacker, and then he went on to seal his complete-game decision.
Manheim returned to action on Tuesday vs. Marietta, and they will go to Penn Manor on Thursday and host Quarryville in a twinbill this Sunday.
"We’ve been getting seven, eight, nine hits a game against some of the better teams," Wilson said. "We knocked off CV (4-0) the other night and we split with Ephrata and New Holland, so some of our tougher rival games are over with. I think the main thing is to get into the playoffs and then we’ll see … I think once we’re all here and all healthy, we’re a pretty good ball team. Pitching-wise, we’ve been pretty consistent."
Lititz has also been consistent pitching-wise, and they were again on Monday night as Ben Gingrich allowed just one run over six innings in the Post 56ers’ 2-1 win over host New Holland. Gingrich also helped his own cause with a pair of hits, and Casnova, Kurtz and Braidy Weiler chipped in two base knocks as well in Lititz’s 11-hit attack.
"He threw real well," Chretien said. "His curve ball was real nice and it was a good win." More LEGION, page B-10