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Lititz ousts Ephrata to advance to NET quarters
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Through their first 17 games this season, the Lititz Odd Fellows used just one player in the third spot of the batting order.
But on Monday night, with Keyser traveling and unavailable for the Lititz Odd Fellows’ playoff game against the Ephrata Bandits, Drew Keller stepped into the three hole.
It proved to be a seamless transition, as Keller went 3-for-4 with three doubles, and the Odd Fellows, who placed seventh in the School League standings, pounded a season-high 19 hits en route to defeating Community League champ Ephrata 13-4 in a New Era Midget Tournament play-in game at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field.
Cleanup hitter Robert Gerofsky added a 3-for-3 effort at the plate with four RBI’s and two runs scored to help lead the way in the middle of the order.
"Keyser was probably our biggest bat this season," Odd Fellows’ skipper Bill Weismandel said, "and (Keller) showed up and went 3-for-4 with three doubles and Bob’s been in the middle of the lineup all year driving in runs, so they definitely did their jobs."
Derek Acaley chipped in with two hits, while scoring two runs and driving in two, while Chase Martin finished 3-for-4 with an RBI, as the Odd Fellows built on the momentum from scoring 39 runs in their last five games.
"I think that propelled us into tonight," Weismandel said. "We finally got a little bit of confidence and that goes a long way."
While the Odd Fellows (11-6-1) punched their ticket to Friday’s NET quarterfinal game against the second-seeded Ephrata Pride at Clipper Magazine Stadium, the Bandits ended their season at 15-4.
"I was really proud of the guys," Ephrata skipper Phil Leid said. "We came out ready to go. I thought that if we played a clean game and played good sound Ephrata baseball, we had a chance. It’s not that we didn’t hang with them. We still hit the ball hard."
Ephrata battled back from an early 3-1 hole to tie the game 3-3 in the top of the third, but the Odd Fellows answered four in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good.
"They’re a good team," Leid said of Lititz. "I’ve seen them before. Up and down, they all hit the ball hard, which was huge for them."
The Bandits aren’t too shabby either and they took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Brandon Schwark’s sacrifice fly off of Lititz starting pitcher Cole Adams.
It didn’t take long for the Odd Fellows to respond, though, off of Ephrata’s Austin Lowrey. Seth Earle’s triple to right field got things started, as Lititz’s first four batters reached base. Garret High added an RBI single to left, and then after Keller doubled, Gerofsky laced an RBI single to left.
"We figured if we could come out and score some runs, especially early, that that would take some pressure off of us as well as maybe take the wind out of their sails a little bit," Weismandel said.
Martin’s RBI base hit in the second inning drove in Evan Havemann, who singled, to stretch Lititz’s lead to 3-1.
But Ephrata battled back and tied the score in the third after loading the bases with one out. Andre Good singled to right, Lowrie was hit by a pitch and Schwark walked. Adams got Adam Horst on an infield fly, but Brandon Redcay followed with a two-run single. Good was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Schwark was on base twice with a single and a walk to lead Ephrata’s offense.
"We didn’t take them lightly," Weismandel said, "and they are definitely a quality team. I wanted to keep (our guys) focused on what they had to do and figured that eventually throughout the game, we would score some runs and hopefully distance ourselves."
They did just that in the next two innings. Gerofsky stroked an RBI double, Acaley drove in a run with an infield hit to deep short, Michael Perezous added an RBI single and Havemann hit a sac fly to right to make it 7-3.
The Odd Fellows then broke it open with five more off of Ephrata reliever Bob Lowrie in the fourth. Martin dropped a perfect bunt single and scored on a wild pitch, Keller ripped an RBI double, Gerofsky delivered a two-run single and Acaley added an RBI double to left-center to push the lead to 12-4. For the game, Lititz had six extra-base hits.
"The first four innings, we scored runs every inning," Weismandel said, "so it allowed us to never really let them get momentum."
Kaplan, who allowed just one run in two innings of relief for Lititz, picked up the win. He struck out two and scattered three hits, including Good’s RBI single in the top of the fourth inning for the Bandits.
Lititz scored its final run in the bottom of the sixth on Luke Hackman’s sac fly and then Kaplan, Keller and Martin combined in relief to retire the final eight Ephrata batters in order to nail down the victory.
Asked if he wanted save some of those runs for Friday’s game, Weismandel said, "We can definitely use those and some of those hits. The next round is certainly going to be a little bit more challenging, but you’ve got to take care of business tonight and we were trying not to get ahead of ourselves."
Leid, meanwhile, was pleased with his team’s effort not only Monday night, but for the season as a whole.
"That’s what I’m really proud about the guys for — they didn’t hang their heads," Leid said. "We fought back and avoided the 10-run rule, which was huge in my opinion … They were a little inexperienced this year, but they came together as a team and they settled in. If you look at some of our scores, we were hitting the ball and we were playing good defense. Bob Lowrie threw a no-hitter this year at one point. So I’m ecstatic with their effort, I’m ecstatic with the whole season, I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. I look forward to watching them in the future to see what they do." More 0DD FELLOWS, page B-4